The director of Gdoweek and Markup, partner in the independent selection of candidates, explains how markets are changing and how sustainable innovation has now become a necessity.
It has now become clear to all consumers that, when it comes to food, health is more important than the wallet. Companies realised this and are concentrating their work on niches that are able to respond to this type of demand. An ability to evolve that is reflected in the increasingly innovative, qualitative and sustainable content of the products, services and projects nominated for the Better Future Award, the competition promoted by TUTTOFOOD to foster excellence in these sectors.
The strength of a brand lies in its values
This is the message that emerges from the exchange of ideas between TUTTOFOOD and Cristina Lazzati, Editor-in-Chief of Gdoweek and Mark Up, two reference publications in the sector and valuable partners in the independent selection of candidates for the award. “Another reason”, explains Lazzati, “is that, objectively, in large-scale distribution there is an increasing trend towards private labels. Therefore, in these segments, sustainable innovation has become not only desirable, but actually necessary. In addition to health, we also see a strong development of functional products associated with sports, especially aimed at younger targets. In particular, products with high protein content, which increasingly complement 'classic' proteins such as meat, eggs or cheese. The demand for alternative protein sources is also associated with the explosion in the demand for veg products.”
In this last segment the competition is very strong and, in recent times, it has been harshened by the rising costs of vegetable products. But this also affects other areas: “We are seeing double-digit growth in the discount format, on one hand because of the growing number of outlets throughout Italy, and on the other because retailers are redefining their offerings in an increasingly reasoned manner. By now, the consumer is accustomed to act within a multi-channel context, choosing the most convenient channel or format for the type of product that he or she is looking for. Therefore, while price is the factor, there has to be a renewed brand strength based on values. Companies are realising that creating quality products is no longer enough, because brands, whether they want it or not, are also social actors. That’s why for the Better Future Award we selected companies that put value and values into their products.”
Brands know-how and new professionalism
According to Cristina Lazzati, in order to really understand the future direction of the market, companies need to pay special attention to younger targets. “The other day I was giving a course at university” , she explains, “and I asked the students if they really take sustainability into account in their purchases. More than half of them answered yes, which is already a very high percentage and will certainly increase in the future. To meet this need, companies will have to add new expertise in the coming years. It is not just a matter of developing innovative products or new processes, but also of bringing new professionalism on board. This is a particularly important issue for SMEs, which, as we know, represent an important part of the Italian food supply chain.”
Lazzati concludes with a positive note for producers: “Green, bio, natural and sustainable products are becoming a sort of 'clearing house' that enables continued growth even when more traditional segments are less dynamic. Also in these cases, the expansion of white label products should not be seen as a threat, but as an opportunity: finding product lines on which to collaborate with brands, which in turn bring their know-how and have their finger on the pulse of real consumer demand, helps to actually create innovation and can generate positive spill-over effects throughout the company's production. After all, in recent years we witnessed to several cases of companies that worked mainly as private label suppliers and then established themselves with their own brand, thus capitalising on the experience acquired.”
Nominations for the Better Future Award 2023 can be submitted until 20 March by the companies registered at TUTTOFOOD. If you want to participate as a visitor, find out how to enter as a professional operator.