Customer focus not only on naturalness but also on the impact on the environment, less quantity and more variety, and the growth of new channels such as delivery are the challenges facing producers.
How does the relationship between producers and their customers change in different markets? Thanks to its international reach, TUTTOFOOD asked that question to multinational companies of different origins and active in different markets.
While it is true that the pandemic has highlighted and accelerated some trends that were already in progress, it has also made it more difficult to test innovative products in the field, as Matěj Král of Semix Pluso, a Czech producer of semi-finished products for the bakery industry, explains: "We usually test new products with focus groups of customers, but with the pandemic this is not possible. However, we have seen further growth in gluten-free, organic and short-label products. Vegan products also continue to show promise. But we hope to be able to get back to talking to the end customers in person soon".
Lockdowns have led many of us to experiment in the kitchen and it is not surprising that the world of seasoning and spices is also evolving. "Also in our sector consumers are more aware of and appreciate our organic products,” says Jannes Van Ballaer of Dutch Herbafrost. Customers want products that are not only more natural, but also more sustainable, so we are investing heavily in the sustainability of our production processes, for example with solar panels and rainwater harvesting.
In 2020, sustainability has become more central for Salomon FoodWorld, which offers a wide range of food service products from finger food to burgers. Barbara Principi, from the Italian office, says: "For example, the choice to be vegetarian or vegan is being made in an increasingly conscious way, with the environment in mind. We have launched the 'Green Heroes' products that use only grains from European producers and therefore have a lower environmental impact than imports from distant markets.
This has long been a focus of attention for the seafood sector, which is also experiencing changes in consumption habits. We receive more last-minute orders, for more commodities and fewer quantities per product on the same pallet," says Lub Van Den Berg, Southern Europe Sales Manager at Seafood Connection . “It is a challenging logistical change, which has spurred us on to become more efficient. As for consumption trends, they remain mostly oriented towards traditional products, such as fillets, prawns or octopus. However, we are seeing strong growth in products that lend themselves to delivery and take-away, such as sushi.”