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Shaking up the traditional agri-foods model

Watch out! Traditional food production sectors should keep an eye open if they wish to comply with new customer expectations.

Food and nutrition have become ultra-sensitive subjects, based on which many specific expectations have been formulated by consumers who no longer have much to do with the rural or food production world. Before, consumers had rather general demands in terms of health and enjoyment when it came to food. Sales promises that were more or less fulfilled combined with a standard marketing approach were more than sufficient. But not anymore. The good news is that this opens up new perspectives for the world of agri-foods...

Consumers want proof!

“Customer requests are now much more complex, go more in-depth and are more specific”, warns Brieg Olivier (Founder of Food Garden) - a transformation strategy consultant for agri-food companies, who worked in major groups (Danone, Innocent smoothie, Senoble) for 15 years. He noticed how demand has changed. When consumers ask for “healthy” food, they base their search on very specific criteria and want to identify where the information comes from - they want proof.

The trusting bond has been broken

The consumer’s trusting bond with agri-food companies has been broken: 74% of the French population look for nutrition information online, 80% fear the presence of residues in their food and 65% pay very close attention to food composition. “Even though food products have never been safer, the trusting bond has been broken: 79% of the French population consider that their food intake can have a negative effect on their health!” Did you know that #Food has become the third largest search occurrence on Google? This can be interpreted as worried consumers spending more and more time looking for information about what they are eating. Is that good or bad for the agri-food business? “We should see this as good news”, says Brieg Olivier reassuringly. Although consumers have become suspicious, it also means they are becoming more involved in what they eat - which opens up new sales perspectives for us. Studies are also encouraging: the budget allocated to food in average households is now picking up after many years of decline. Food habits are nonetheless drastically changing. French consumers buy less but of better quality. So, to capture some of the value they are prepared to spend, we must react now! Eating habits are changing. Organic food is taking the upper hand, no doubt. Disruptive models, such as “C’est qui le patron?” [“Who’s the boss?”], are currently being developed. City-based farms are being set up, and regional brands such as “Breizh Cola” are creating a seductive link to local produce. French consumers are generally reducing quantities - namely with regard to animal protein. In a nutshell, consumers are looking for healthy, local, tasty and high-traceability products. “It’s a major trend”, confirms the general manager of Food Garden before AppliFarm’s guests, and thus has a huge impact on agri-food companies. Watch out for the breach in trust, which could cause significant damage! Consumers only partially find what they are looking for nowadays. As a result, they reduce consumption, give up large brands and refocus consumption on new food offers (Deliveroo, Food Chéri, Uber Eats, etc.). The traditional model boasting national brands is now long gone. “We are moving towards numerous and much more diverse models”.

Overturning the market

We are currently witnessing a real market turnaround. Traditional sectors and supermarkets are under-performing...yet market opportunities still exist. They simply need to be creative and disruptive. These new solutions need to be tested quickly, and proof of our efforts must be shown. The AppliFarm start-up, who invited Brieg Olivier to its “blockchain and food traceability” workshop on November 15th, knows what it is talking about: traceability data monitoring has now become operational. Today, thanks to the blockchain and to digital specifications, we can regain consumer trust. The perspectives are truly there...all that is left to do is try!