These Are The Emerging Food And Beverage Industry Trends Post-Covid-19

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The entire Covid-19 pandemic crisis has been awash with crises in the food industry. First up, stockpiling left consumers without fresh vegetables (as well as toilet paper!) as grocery stores struggled to keep up with unprecedented and panicked consumer demand (This spelled good news for online grocers that were able to step up to the challenge). 
Second, the restaurant industry not-so-slowly came to its knees as city after city demanded a full lockdown (Whether this has been a positive for online restaurant delivery is still up for debate). 
Next, images of farmers, used to supplying the foodservice industry, plowing their crops into the field with no place for it to go, were devastatingly blasted across our screens; the same happened with milk dumping. 
Now, it’s all about the meat industry as Covid-19 outbreaks among workers are forcing the closure of some of the country’s biggest slaughterhouses, where tens of thousands of animals are processed daily. While the crisis has been a boon to direct-to-consumer meat producers, the industry at large is now warning consumers of a coming shortage in meat supply, while at the same time, livestock farmers are having to make tough decisions on what to do with their herds or flocks that have nowhere to be processed. 
As the Corona virus pandemic spreads across the globe, threatening lives as well as livelihoods, it has clarified the vital role that grocery retailers play in society. Consumers expect these businesses to keep them fed and healthy, and groceries remain essential retailers in an uncertain situation that continues to evolve day by day. The short- term priorities for food retailers are clear. They should safeguard the health of employees and customers, maintain business continuity, set up nerve centres to manage their organisations’ work on the Covid-19 crisis, and manage demand to align with supply-chain capacity. 
Countries are in different stages of the epidemic’s progression, and their governments have taken different actions to address it. Regardless, the surveys point to signs that some shifts in consumer behaviour are similar and could be lasting. These shifts require food retailers to act—and in some cases, accelerate the changes they have already made in response to the crisis. 
Reimagine safety, health, and the scope of supply chains. Reimagine how technology can enable delivery and the value chain. Reimagine loyalty. Reimagine the meaning of value for money.
Once food retailers have reimagined their businesses in these four ways, they will be better equipped to provide employment opportunities to people who are currently out of work, reshape their industry ecosystem, and work closely with business partners on how to operate in a new normal. Their mission is broader than meeting consumer demands—it involves supporting the well-being and livelihoods for millions of people. 
Transform your business model to ensure that it is tech enabled and future proof. 
The crisis has accelerated many societal trends that were already under way: remote working, online shopping, tech-enabled retail, and localised supply chains. Even as food retailers address today’s short-term challenges, they should take the time to rethink their business models to become more efficient—and, therefore, less exposed to shocks. 
Stores: Can you make your store model cashless or virtually cashless? Can you replace the cashier-based model with a seamless no-checkout model? Are you using data to measure on-shelf availability in real time? Are you automating replenishment? 
Supply chain: Are you embracing technology sufficiently in warehousing and transportation to reduce the burden on labour? Have you adopted machine learning in your forecasting so that you can spot abnormalities fast and adjust immediately? 
Merchandising: Are your merchants equipped with the technological tools to run their categories “customer back” and remotely? Have you diversified sourcing sufficiently to risk future shocks? Are there reasons for you to pursue more vertical integration or more strategic partnerships? In light of the latest consumer trends, are you striking the right balance between local and international partnerships? Should you expand your position in private labels in the face of potential GDP adversity and customers’ quest for value? Or, put another way, should you introduce more private labels with a diversified but primarily local supplier mix? 
E-commerce: Can you accelerate investments in a seamless online-to-offline experience and proactively shift spending to your online channel, in a model that serves the customer better and is sustainable over the long term? Do you have a scalable technological backbone and delivery network to flex up and down as needed? 
Head office: Can you transform your head office into a flexible, remote-working team supported by tech and data? Are your systems able to handle the increased load and cyber security issues that come with distributed remote work? 
We have full confidence in food retailers’ ability to handle this crisis. In every country, you—as leaders in the food industry—are crucial to the health and well-being of the population, both today and in the future. The actions we have outlined here can help you and the other leaders in your organisation navigate this current crisis, as well as build and strengthen your business for the longer term.
(The author is a chef at Health by Mondo. He can be contacted at healthbymondo@gmail.com)

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One thought on “These Are The Emerging Food And Beverage Industry Trends Post-Covid-19

  1. The restaurant industry is something that is going through brand turmoil due to the covid-19 crisis. People are forced to stay indoors and away from the crowd. In this scenario, instead of people coming towards food, restaurants going to them is the best way. Hyperlocals offering delivery services to customer homes is the perfect way to do that.

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