Product innovation, service content and attention to new consumer sensitivities, such as that towards sustainability, are the secret of a continuing boom.
The growth in food spending does not stop: according to the Ismea-Nielsen panel, the first half of this year recorded a 9.2% increase in value in food and drink purchases compared to 2019, the highest increase of the last 10 years.
A boom where Groceries take the lion's share, as confirmed by the data - in this case that of IRI - of large-scale retail trade between January and July of this year. Out of almost 30 billion euros of total expenditure for packaged food, the multiproduct has grabbed over 12 billion with an increase of 7%. In terms of growth, however, pasta with a good +10% did rather better, reaching a spend of 664 million euros.
Italian cuisine is back in vogue
Some of the reasons are highlighted by Giuseppe Di Martino, CEO of Pastificio Di Martino. “We noticed that the emergency has accelerated many trends that were hinted at before. For example, e-commerce was already a strong point before for us and today we are developing it even further, by focusing on both human and material resources. All the issues related to sustainability, traceability and, of course, safety are also growing. Fields in which we had already worked extensively, for example by innovating our packaging. In addition, the emergency made us feel that we need to put the person, the customer in the case of business, at the centre of our operation”.
And since there is no pasta without quality oil, we are witnessing a return to Made in Italy olive oil. A supply chain that counts over 400 thousand specialist farms, but also the largest number of extra virgin olive oils with denomination in Europe (43 DOP and 4 IGP), with a heritage of 250 million plants and 533 varieties of olives, the largest biodiversity treasure in the world.
“This year's campaign promises to be good from a qualitative point of view - explains Nicola Di Noia, General Manager of UNAPROL, the Italian olive consortium - even if from the quantitative point of view some areas of the South have suffered from a prolonged drought, with decreases of up to 20%. The lockdown confirmed that Italian products work when they are high end and aim for excellence. Lots of companies developed e-commerce and food delivery during the emergency, but education is now needed. For this reason, in collaboration with Coldiretti we have opened the EVOO School Italia, an academy where we provide training for operators, education for the consumer and even training for future oil “sommeliers”. Another interesting segment are table olives, which have great growth potential with high added value”.
Product innovation and segments in growth
The example of table olives illustrates the potential of product innovation, a much-explored area in the grocery sector. Comments Matteo Merlin, Pedon Marketing Director. “Since 2019 we have defined the way forward, interpreting our raw materials in products with a high service rate. This is how the latest highly innovative launches I Pronti and I Legumi Fatti A Snack were born, because they change the perception of legumes and define new ways of consuming them, opening up to a much wider and more varied audience. Sustainability is another strategic asset, which we formalised by defining precise guidelines in a three-year plan. Among these, the use of completely recyclable film by 2022 and the use of Carta Crush Fagiolo - derived from bean waste with a view to a circular economy - for products in cartons.”
In difficult times, you know, recreational foods are also good. And in fact, still from January to July according to IRI, dessert figures are positive: sweet spreads have grown in double figures - up by 13.7% - reaching half a billion in value (491 million euros) while sweet snacks, although slightly down, are still worth almost a billion (960 million). Even in this sector, however, the secret to growth is innovation and attention to new sensibilities.
“The market requires above all packaging sustainability, therefore new materials that also involve new suppliers - says Barbara Orofalo, Marketing & Sales Manager of Majani 1796 -. Consumer demands, more than the product, concern the service, which we are developing. To stay in the market you need to be original, quick and complete in your offer: our business is not only made up of points of sale, but also of individuals who have to find in us a partner able to live up to every expectation. At the moment the overseas market represents about 4% and, as in Italy, we have realised that business customers are increasingly organising themselves with e-commerce platforms”.
Strictly interconnected sectors that at TUTTOFOOD 2021 will be represented respectively by the areas TUTTOGROCERY, TUTTOPASTA, TUTTOOIL and TUTTOSWEET.