Home Comforts, Eco & Online: Food in 2021

As with most everything else, Covid will have a profound impact on the food sector in 2021. However, with the focus being on areas such as eco-friendly products, nutrition, online sales and convenience, the ‘profound’ part will be more about accelerating existing strategies rather than shaping new ideas. This article in food sector bible The Grocer explores the details behind the trends for 2021…

Stay Home, Stay Safe…

Online sales have obviously been trending upwards for a number of years now so on one hand it’s a case of ‘nothing to see here’ – though market share doubling in December 2020 to 12.5% of all grocery sales is significant and reflects a speeding up of the consumer behaviours already in place.

And, as always, as consumer behaviours shift, so to do the behaviours of retailers, so customer data management, forecasting techniques and digital marketing will all see huge investment.

Health & Safety…

Another acceleration will be the growing demands of an ever-more environmentally-aware customer base. More data around product origination, sustainability and packaging for example could be broken down in a similar way than we already see regarding nutritional information.

It’s a similar story for nutrition itself too; the role of food as it relates to mental health and physical well-being is as crucial now as it’s ever been. Again, with an already health-conscious public it’s a case of ‘doubling down’ rather than a brand new trend.

Safety in Numbers…

It’s not rocket-science to forecast a boom across the online grocery marketplace. Yes, Amazon are the giant in the room and will almost certainly attempt to acquire a major UK retailer – Morrisons or Tesco apparently – but the biggest impact may well be the sheer number of choices we, as consumers will have as things develop.  Not just the doorstep ‘cook at home’ options such as Hello Fresh and Gousto, but probably more in where we actually do our weekly food shop. More and more start-up and disruptive options outside the traditional big supermarkets are set to pop up.

It’s Not Safe to Travel…

And of course, we shouldn’t forget about Brexit. While the pandemic will impact food safety regarding imports, Brexit is already creating its own legacy around supply chains and pricing. British produce will not only be the growing ‘option of choice’ for British consumers but may also increasingly start becoming the only choice as tariffs and logistics start being bigger and bigger issues.

And…Our Daily Bread…

Perhaps the most interesting forecast is a massive resurgence in bread – particularly white loaves which apparently saw a double digit sales growth in 2020. As we seek comfort food in tough times, there are few foods like bread which can meet our needs so readily. In-store bakeries, artisan brands and new variances on the common loaf are set to grow.

The food and beverage market is of course no different to every other consumer-driven sector. As customer desires and motivations evolve, the market itself changes with it and, as a result, the focus of consultancies and recruiters shifts accordingly.  It’s not a particularly nuanced conclusion, but it’s probably the one that matters.

- Tariq Siraj

 


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