Although the food & beverage sector was strongly challenged by the global coronavirus pandemic, we see countless examples of retailers and brands taking the lead in developing innovative solutions and services with the help of digital. Some of them strengthened their online presence, while others just seized the opportunity and got into the digital game.
We discussed these changes in our webinar together with Marine Favre, Head of Digital Siradis.ch, Siddi Mehta, Founder Rhythm108, and Arman Anatürk, CEO Foodhack and tried to uncover some future trends of the healthy food industry.
Who are our Food Industry Insiders?
Siddi Mehta is the Founder of Rhythm108, the brand that offers a range of wholesome and nutritious products including vegan-friendly and gluten-free snack bars, chocolate bars and tea biscuits. Handmade by trained patissiers without adding preservatives and artificial ingredients they took over Switzerland, are sold in the UK and keep expanding into other European countries.
Arman Anatürk is the CEO of Foodhack, Switzerland’s largest network of impact-driven food professionals and startups which aims to empower the next generation of food entrepreneurs to successfully launch and grow their business.
Foodhack does a weekly food & food tech newsletter, local meetups organised by ambassadors and recently launched the "Secret Sauce" podcast.
Marine Favre is the Head of Digital at Siradis.ch, a portfolio of 100 great-tasting products distributed through retail, in hotel minibars, through foodservice and take-aways.
With their hunter-gatherer approach, the food scout team found creators and founders of companies around Switzerland and beyond that offer alternative, innovative and 100% natural products.
What particularities exemplify the Swiss consumer?
With a high spending capacity, we Swiss still love to find deals and use coupons, while our preferences are directed towards Swiss brands or Swiss made products and organic options.
Switzerland, together with Denmark have the highest proportion of organic products marketed through supermarket chains, and the consumers from these countries are the ones who spend most on organic products when it comes to food.
We tend to be traditional, not always keen on trying a variety of brands, however our trademark precision is also one of the attributes that make Switzerland a special market.
We Swiss consumers also are more likely to question what our food contains, so marketing tricks cannot fool us easily and this is a positive trait for brands like Rhythm108, and those sold on Siradis which focus exactly on having only natural ingredients in their products.
The fact that 80% of the offering is dominated by Coop and Migros grocery shops, makes it more difficult for new brands to reach consumers.
How did the pandemics push the food industry online?
The small brands and those who were new on the market saw a bigger decline with cancellation of orders because they were considered non-essential.
But, some of them saw in this the opportunity for jumping on the online wave and built their own platforms and communication channels that will also translate into savings, when it comes to listing fees.
The pandemics gave rise to grocery platforms, the late adopters of e-shopping were forced but also more keen on adopting it because of the needs they couldn’t satisfy anymore.
Our panellists say that this will stick around for a variety of reasons, like safety, convenience, and the diversity of the products which won’t be available in the brick and mortar shops.
A lot of these platforms saw a 300-500% increase, with huge demand that made them expand a lot. Siradis grew its B2C customers by 800% and shifted very quickly to a 50 / 50 equilibrium, while pre-coronavirus the situation was 2% B2C and 98% B2B.
There is a lot of catching up in the area of food online shopping, so it is embraced with optimism and there is a big chance for finding the food discovered abroad soon to be available in Switzerland too.
The power of the community and use of microinfluencers
With not much entertainment available during the lockdown, food shopping became some sort of an entertainment. People had more curiosity to try new things and had also more attention to observe and analyse the offer of products.
Rhythm108 launched a new product and Siddhi agreed it was the best time to do it, because people were open and eager to discover new things.
The cost of facebook ads has gone down drastically in the past few months which made the switch from awareness to performance. Siradis saw how their ads converted directly into buying. Also microinfluencers were able to convert better by engaging more with their communities. It was a really good period to grow online communities, engage with them and discover more about their needs. Content also saw a big rise, with more opened newsletters and more time spent reading news.
Arman saw with Foodhack how the interest of people changed from being interested at the beginning of the lockdown in news and strories related to Coronavirus and how others were navigating it, to focusing then more on positive news and diversity, which help to go back to a new normal.
Millennials and Gen Z will keep sustainability high in their future priorities
“Sustainability is never going to be a secondary issue. The younger consumer is always looking for better alternatives, and Covid-19 increased the attention on what in the world needs to change for this not to happen again”, said Siddhi
Marine emphasized this and said that it’s a good sign that it’s not just coming from individuals, but also from bigger organizations that are able to ban and regulate packaging.
Both Rhythm108 and Siradis are trying to educate their customers around sustainability, by sharing with them solutions to make sustainable changes and products that are sustainable.
Arman underlines that there is a massive growth opportunity for sustainable packaging solutions, more companies are looking to hire start-ups that are able to develop new solutions and in the funding area there is special interest to invest in it.
Switzerland is indeed a particular market when it comes to food, thus innovation in our market might take a bit more time, but that makes it even more interesting to see how and when trends pick up. It took 10 years for kombucha to be chosen as a drink when going out, and other fermented and functional foods still try hard to get some attention.
There’s good news around immune boosting products which went up and products containing CBD might never be as widely adopted as in other countries.
Food delivery is on the rise and you can read more about it and watch the interview with Dominic Milloud, the CEO of eat.ch by clicking the button below.
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