There was no shortage of surprises in the answers given to us by buyers from some of the most exciting businesses in all five continents. What’s “in fashion” is not always what customers are looking for.
Participation of international buyers from numerous different countries rather than just Italian buyers is, as is well known, one of TUTTOFOOD’s main strengths on the Italian agri-food fair scene. But what are foreign buyers who visit TUTTOFOOD really looking for? Are they just looking for Made in Italy products or do they also expect a foreign-on-foreign marketplace?
In continuous dialogue with its stakeholders, TUTTOFOOD tried asking them directly. And there was no shortage of surprises. Buyers for City Super, for example, one of Hong Kong's leading supermarket chains, are not particularly interested in healthy products as this segment is already well developed in their market. At TUTTOFOOD 2021, they say, they will mainly be looking for high-quality ready meals, a commodity that saw markedly increased interest in the Chinese enclave during the lockdowns.
From Asia to Europe. Markets change, responses change. For the team at Jumbo, a well-known supermarket chain in the Netherlands and Belgium, there is only one answer: innovation. The brand focuses on a strong in-store and online sales integration as well as an experiential approach that starts with “what do you want to eat?” rather than “what do you want to buy?”. That's why, at TUTTOFOOD, Jumbo's team are not looking for specific products, they are looking anything that might pique consumers’ curiosity, maybe even just from a web preview.
All of these brands are open to both Italian products and international ones. So in the midst of all this, what about Made in Italy? It remains central, naturally. Another Benelux example is from Dutch food broker Montana Foods. Like their Belgian counterparts, they had just one word for us, or rather, two: Italian products! Another aspect that holds interest for the Montana staff is its running alongside HostMilano: they aren't sure yet what they’ll find, but they’re expecting to discover interesting ideas.
A diverse range of answers, but with one common denominator: buyers’ choices are no longer framed so much around product categories, like beforehand, as much as by a product's lifestyle value. A paradigm shift that may open up new opportunities for many producers.