Shifting attitudes to health, the environment and technology present the food industry with the greatest opportunity for growth witnessed for a generation, IGD chief executive Joanne Denner-Finch told listeners at the IGD Convention today (10 October).
In her keynote speech, Denney-Finch dismissed suggestions that the food industry was reaching economic maturity, instead predicting that the technological and service demands of the next generation of consumers will offer considerable potential for growth over the next 20 years.
Denney-Finch said that only 31% of tomorrow’s shoppers expect to buy all their groceries at supermarkets, according to Tomorrow’s Shopping World, IGD research sponsored by EDS. The research foresees a significant rise in grocery shopping online and a strong demand for specialist food retailers.
The industry, Denney-Finch continued, must gear up for increasing consumer scrutiny of the ethics of food production. IGD research into ethical consumerism found 52% of shoppers said their purchasing decisions were partly governed by ethical matters.
Denney-Finch said: “New technology, online shopping, ethical shoppers, environmental consciousness, healthy eating, premium retailers, market-focused stores and new attitudes from a new generation of shoppers are all combining to shake up the status quo, so we should stop claiming this is a mature industry.”
Addressing her audience of industry professionals, she added: “The business model of today won’t work tomorrow but the opportunities are there – the best opportunities for a generation. Are you going to take them?”
The future success of suppliers and retailers is likely to depend on their ability to meet consumer’s desire for instant gratification through technological innovation, the IGD boss observed.
“The way these changes are viewed will depend on where you sit in the market. For some they are a golden opportunity, for others a major threat. But for the food industry in total they channel competition away from just price. The more we do that, the more choice we can offer to consumers and the better our return will be,” Denney-Finch told her audience.