Packaged food volume growth in developed markets (where the majority of food sales are generated) is expected to remain static over the next five years. This is forcing strategy makers to look beyond traditional growth markets to stay relevant, and find new pockets of growth through value creation in a new technological era. This briefing looks at where digital frontiers can be found and assesses which technological innovations are out there, and which will lead the way in food.
With emerging markets no longer being the main drivers of growth, food players are turning to developed markets such as the US for sustained future growth. Per capita disposable incomes in developed markets are seven times higher than in emerging markets and product margins are also greater because of a sophisticated distribution network being in place. Yet prolonged deflationary pressures in core developed markets have been a concern for many packaged food players in 2016 which emphasises the need for value creation as future volume sales are expected to remain static.
New pockets of growth can be found in markets where digital commerce is strongly developed which can be measured in home, and mobile connectivity, market environment and commerce infrastructure. By leveraging over 2,500 data points Euromonitor has ranked 50 countries according to attractiveness for future deployment of digital initiatives. China, South Korea, the UK and the US score highest on the digital consumer index and are key markets to explore new food innovations that offer solutions in time management, food waste and experience.
Digital consumers are predominantly Millennials and Generation Z consumers who are pioneers in the digital environment. This can be through use of smart appliances, connected devices, purchases through mobile devices, and so on. It will be these consumer groups that food manufacturers should target next in developed markets.
Staple foods that are price inelastic, such as bread, rice, pasta and milk, traditionally have seen little innovation as consumers are more conservative in these categories and typically stick to their favourite brand. Technological innovation can bring back excitement to these categories and get consumers to try new things at higher price points and build an innovative brand image at the same time. With an already high penetration of these foods, even a small price increase can generate substantial new revenue, even in a deflationary environment.
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