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The challenges of operating in India’s fledgling organised retail sector took centre stage at day two of the Food Forum India 2008 conference in Mumbai yesterday (7 May). Meeting ever-changing consumer demands, a nascent supply chain and a sustainable relationship between supplier and retailer were key points of discussion. Here are some of the top quotes from day two’s session.

“In my opinion, Indians are some of the smartest people in world, so whatever setbacks you are facing at this point in the retail industry are simply a learning curve” – Joseph Andraski, president & CEO Voluntary Interindustry Commerce Solutions

“To truly be a success in modern retailing, all team members need to understand the concept of consistent consumer satisfaction, and be able to maintain it; that starts with empathy and caring for people and the environment” – Gareth Ackerman, chairman, Pick ‘n Pay Holdings

“Flexibility and adoptability to suit the inconsistent Indian consumer is not an easy task. Modern retail formats are still going through a phase of trial and error in their minds” – Sadashiv Nayak, CEO, Food Bazaar

“Children are a major influence in determining the choice of the retail outlet to be visited, so we must learn to dance ceaselessly” – Avinash Joshi, chief, fruits and vegetables, Pantaloon Retail

“Regardless of what your goal is, you need the flexibility to experiment with ways to deliver a satisfying shopping experience” – Jayant Kochar, MD, Go Fish Retail Services

“The best bet for Indian retailers is to get their act together at home first. They must have plans to go global but right now their top priority is to maintain efficiency and consistency” – Andraski

“If you take care of the community around you, they will come and shop with you. Doing good is doing good business” – Ackerman

“Out-of-stock is not what we are here to sell. The relationship between suppliers and retailers must be strong enough to not let our consumers go hungry” – Roger Narula, CEO, Dish Hospitality

“Consumers buy food from places they are certain ensure good quality standards across the whole supply chain. Every link in this chain must be aware of meeting this expectation of the consumer” – Dr. Kristian Moeller, MD, GlobalGAP

“Indian consumers have waited long enough to experience global brands at home. Now that they can afford them, it is the right time to meet that demand” – Harshita Gandhi, Tree of Life

“With increased urbanization and rising disposable incomes, there has been a growing consciousness of health and wellness among Indian consumers. An increasing importance is being given to fitness and healthy lifestyle choices” – N. V. R. Murthy, general manager, Cadilla Healthcare

“It is basically buzz marketing that’s helping health foods and energy drinks to gain consumers outside the gyms” – Manish Joshi, product manager, Cadila Healthcare

“Rich people love lower prices; the poor need them” – Ackerman