They say when one door closes another opens. Granted, focusing on the door that is closing can be overwhelming, especially in a year like 2020, but like most stereotypes, it happens often enough to have the ring of truth about it.
By Catherine Sayer, CEO of Food South Australia.
Covid-19 slammed doors everywhere, but for several months there has been discussion about the possibilities that Covid-19 offers along with the challenges. So are new doors really opening?
It seems they are.
For example, consumer research from around the world shows that Covid-19 is in great demand for personalized products aimed at wellness, immune health and convenience. This is in line with the Australian Government, which recently released its Roadmap of Manufacturing Priorities for the Food and Beverage Sector, which recognizes the existing Australian manufacturing strengths in this category and is now providing support through the Modern Manufacturing Initiative Fund to make groceries – and to help beverage makers get the most out of the opportunity.
The search for plant-based alternatives went beyond replacing meat or dairy products, and created a desire for improved sources of protein as well as a greater consumer focus on the planet. Sustainability means more than it used to be – now it's about responsible and conscious corporate management and protecting the environment.
It's not enough to feel good, the business has to be good now – and prove it.
Then there is the world of e-commerce. Consumers went online in droves last year. Some are back in stores now, but nonetheless, the restrictions have accelerated online traffic and this has created a greater sense of confidence and convenience in online ordering among consumer segments who have previously adopted this technology more slowly.
We are all aware of the rapid turnaround in many food and beverage companies over the past year – but the question now is, which of these strategies will have sustained power given the "next normal" for food and beverage. This is the question we asked in our Covid-19 Response and Recovery Survey of South Australian Food and Beverage Manufacturers.
This survey follows our first impact assessments conducted in April and May 2020 and shows insights for both manufacturers and their customers.
While the survey is still open at the time of this writing, leading indicators are that a key strategy at least for South Australian food and beverage companies has been to build closer relationships with customers and look for ways to showcase products in a variety of forms Formats to offer customers and consumers more options and more flexibility.
About half of the companies that have responded to our survey so far said they had diversified their sales channels in response to the pandemic. Some of the most popular strategies include diversifying from food service to retail, as well as adding e-commerce facilities to serve consumers directly. or diversification from wholesale to retail.
So far, around 30% of respondents have indicated that they have also changed product sizes and packaging to meet the requirements for new sales channels. New product development also appears to have been a popular strategy, and diversification into new markets was also a common response.
Companies that are motivated to work more closely with customers and take advantage of these diversification opportunities are good for everyone along the value chain, and it is certainly a strategy that is likely to continue.
At this point, and perhaps not intuitively, our survey responses so far show that the overall impact of the pandemic on the South Australian food and beverage business has actually been somewhat positive. Now I'll be the first to say it's very early, but so we want to understand what happened and where these important opportunities are now.
More doors that are now opening to our sector and strategies with the potential to continue delivering in the new environment will also be the focus of the Food South Australia Summit 2021 on June 2nd when our program of global and national speakers their offerings provide insights into what this important “next normal” looks like on a global level, where the actionable insights are located and how to recognize the signals that are sending the emerging trends.
It is interesting to see that more than half of the respondents to our Covid-19 survey participated in our first online summit last year or accessed the sessions on our website to make the most of the insights and insights offered by experts . This year we're presenting the Summit as a hybrid event so you can attend in person or join us online if you can't make it to Adelaide. Registrations are now open here – I hope to see you there in person or online.
Please visit the Food South Australia Summit for more information.
About Catherine Sayer
Catherine has headed Food South Australia since its inception in 2010 and is passionate about leading the development of the industry's governing body with a focus on industry growth and advocacy. She is also a member of and directs a number of bodies.
About food South Australia
Food South Australia is the state's leading association for the food and beverage industry, dedicated to supporting and sustaining the industry in the state by helping companies of all sizes develop their markets, capabilities and industry connections. Food South Australia is independent, industry driven and membership focused.
More information is available at Foodsouthaustralia.com.au.