«This year we found ourselves crystallized in a permanent present. Coronavirus has removed certainties about the future in a few weeks. A difficult situation for everyone. For many, unfortunately, dramatic», notes Riccardo Felicetti, president of the Italian pasta makers (within the Unione Italiana Food). «Forced first to domestic isolation and a slow return to a “spaced” normality then, we learned a new way of life and new habits. We re-discovered our house as the nest of affections, tangible or in video call, the kitchen as the symbol of the reconquest of lost and suddenly found time».
E-commerce, sustainability and brand awareness will be more and more important for business
Probably we all agree to these words. And maybe this is the reason why the agricultural and food industry has suffered less than other sectors. But is the worst really behind us? According to the Fao in its June Food Outlook Report, there is still work to be done to prevent the health emergency turning into a food emergency. The role of international trade will be fundamental underlines the organisation. As of now, the Report predicts 2.2% growth between 2020 and 2021 for grains and moderate increases also for meat, fish and vegetable oils. Recently published Istat data regarding Italian exportation during the first half of the year appears to confirm the sector’s resilience. Italian pasta in particular, after a record 2.6 billion euros in exports in 2019, experienced another leap in terms of international sales in March, equating to 21% in volume, with the exportation of an additional 97,000 tons, 72,000 of which to EC markets. According to the Food Industry Monitor of the University of Gastronomic Sciences in Pollenzo, in collaboration with Ceresio Investors, growth in the food & beverage sector in 2020 will fall short by roughly 5%, not an encouraging figure but relatively positive if compared to the estimated drop in global GDP of -9.5%. 2021 will be a rebound year, with sector growth of 7.7%. The FIM also confirms that international trade will be the driving force, with exportation in the sector increasing by an average of 11% during the two-year period of 2020-2021. But to reach the goal, operators needs to be able to answer to the new market requests. Requests that are changing day by day towards five points. The global study entitled What matters to consumers when buying food? conducted by Dnv Gl – one of the most active certifying bodies in the sector – highlights how the coronavirus emergency has resulted in a focus on food safety, the main worry for 55% of people, along with health, for 53%. Environmental (38%) and social aspects (35%) are also important. In particular, consumers look out for a clear list of ingredients (65%) and the origin of the product and its ingredients (64%), but also for sustainable aspects such as compostable or recyclable packaging (68%), measures to reduce food waste (61%) and respect for the well-being of the animal (53%). TuttoFood insight adds to the data comparison a qualitative analysis based on interviews with buyers from some of the most important international large-scale retailers. Among other things, what emerges is that an acceleration towards e-commerce and home deliveries is driven by increasingly direct requests from the users themselves. On-line and off-line shopping trends do not always seem coherent though, and this poses new challenges for operators (TuttoFood – Fiera Milano, May 17-20, 2021). One of the main challenges that large-scale retailers face is to support consumers who are increasingly inclined to make informed choices, respect for the ingredients or nutritional values for example, but also in terms of product history and sustainability. An increasing number of retail chains are making this information transparent for consumers with sustainability “stickers” and points measuring a product’s environmental footprint. So which countries are the ones to keep an eye on in terms of Food & Beverage? Iri’s Consumer Spending Tracking analyses spending at large-scale retailers in eight key advanced markets (Italy, France, Germany, Spain, The Netherlands, the Uk, the Usa and New Zealand). The most recent report (May) shows the greatest food and beverage growth in New Zealand (21.2%) and the United States (20.3%) followed by the Netherlands (12.5%), Spain (12.2%) and the UK (10.4%). Less dynamic, but still on the up, are Germany (8.9%) and Italy (6.4%), while the worst performer is France (-0.7%). One of the most interesting trends is the continuing growth, albeit to a varying extent in different countries, of private labels, with the partial exception of the Uk and the Netherlands. White label products account for 33.9% of food in France (+1.7%), 30.9% in the Netherlands (+0%), 19.7% in Italy (+2%) and 18.7% in the Usa (+0.5). There is negative growth in the United Kingdom (-2.4%), but this is in relation to a penetration that already equates to more than half the total (53%), by far the highest among the analysed countries. So, according to TuttoFood insight, the five trends on which to bet are the on-line shopping, sustainability (necessity in order to continue to grow in the medium/long term); quality (for which consumers are willing to pay more); brand awareness (Research consumer trusts more in brands they know well. And White Label products can also be “brand name” if supported by the prestige of the chain); and International trade.