Author: Durk Bosma

Considerations for Post-Corona Innovations

FoodBytes!, part of Dutch bank Rabobank, has identified 6 growth platforms for innovations in a post-corona world. The researchers take into account the insecurities in the minds of the consumers as well as among investors and manufacturers.

The alternative routes according to FoodBytes! that lead to successful  innovation are:

  • Functional ingredients as consumers are looking for health benefits.
  • Order online and deliver to your home as consumers got used to new ways of buying their food.
  • Local consumption because consumers value a short and reliable food supply chain more than before.
  • Affordable packaging solutions because of the expected rise in the demand for products with a longer shelf life.
  • Increasing importance of food safety.
  • Efficiency through automation.

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Is the Corona Crisis the Window of Opportunity for a More Local Food System

Because of the current corona crisis local Dutch farm shops have record turnover. The role of local agriculture in our food system seems to be gaining importance. This is remarkable, because 80% of Dutch food comes from abroad.

All kinds of disturbances in the market force entrepreneurs to think of new ways to sell their products. Exporting became more difficult and some channels largely dried up, like the restaurants. And at the same time consumers’ appreciation for crucial professions like farmers increased immensely.

All these developments form a fertile soil for innovation and new more sustainable business models. The corona crisis is causing people to look for initiatives to support local entrepreneurs. They are now discovering that you can also get your food nearby. As a result, they may continue to do so in the future.

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Fundamental Changes in America’s Food System Are Needed

The corona virus crisis has exposed fundamental problems with how food is produced and distributed in the US, From paying workers a living wage to diversifying the supply chain. From a reliance on farm and restaurant workers who are underpaid and largely unprotected, to the fragility of a supply chain that is highly concentrated and centralized. The problems are obviously not limited to us. The solutions should be implemented world wide to really have impact.

Highly efficient, this system evolved to fulfill expectations of endless choice, immediate service, high yields and low prices – but it has come at a cost. Now, the country is experiencing food shortages, massive food waste, and rising hunger, while food processing plants have become hotspots of Covid-19.  The crisis also has elevated conversations about how to solve these systemic problems. Food &Environment Reporting Network (FERN) asked a number of experts who work within the system, or who study it, what needs to change.

Some of the changes they suggest:

  • open dialogue with communities and NGO’s
  • steady, reliable incomes for workers in the food chain
  • less reliance on large operators
  • focus on long term stability

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Corona Boosts Vegan, Healthy Food and Less Waste

More vegan
A study by Mintel of 2.000 UK consumers reveals that the pandemic and lockdown has had an effect on consumption pattern that might be lasting. More people are into vegan diets, particular younger Brits and Londoners. According to the researchers part of the driver behind this change is that people want the world to change for the better. A vegan diet is considered a way to contribute.

More healthy
But another, more important shift is a shift towards more healthy food.  Overall, almost two in five (37%) Brits say the COVID-19 outbreak has prompted them to add more nutrients that support the immune system to their diet. Almost a quarter of Brits say they are eating more fruit and vegetables since the start of the outbreak.

Less waste

Prompting a ‘waste not want not’ mentality, almost seven in ten (69%) Brits say the outbreak has encouraged them to waste less food at home.

Finally, the study reveals that the virus has sparked an interest in cooking and baking as more than half (55%) of the nation say they plan on cooking more from scratch post-pandemic than they did before.

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Lockdown Leads to a Healthier Diet

A study among 1.000 Dutch consumers Future of Food Institute conducted for Upfield (Flora Plant, Becel and Blue Band) reveals some positive effects of the lockdown on food consumption.

These are the main findings of the study:

  • 18% more often made recipes from scratch
  • 29% more often eats fruits and vegetables
  • 27% more often made healthier meals
  • 20% ate less microwave diners​

Driver for change is health related
The desire for a healthier diet is one of the positive effects of the lockdown. This can be seen as a response to an outside world that became more volatile and dangerous. Less opportunities to exercise is another reason for the desire to eat more healthy food.

More time and money available are catalysts for change
One of the things that made changes in diet possible, is having more time. There are less activities outside of the home and less time spend at work (or on the way to work). More time to cook (together), more time to try out new (plant-based) recipes and less TV diners. This gives an opportunity to rethink cooking behaviors and try out new things.

1 in 3 spent more money on food, because they wanted healthier, more luxurious or comfort food. For the households with higher incomes the budget for food increased because they spend less money out of home.

Lockdown brings families together
There is another positive effect. Having more free time and working from home, it’s easier to eat together. 1 in 3 households with kids now more often eat together. And most of them would miss having the opportunity to sit together for a meal.

Sustainability effects
One in 7 households took the opportunity to switch to a more sustainable diet (14%).
Some sustainable behaviors became more popular. 17% ate less meat and 21% more often ate locally produced food. 8% ate/drank plant-based dairy more often. Many of these are young adults . Their motivations: health (48%), sustainability(37%) or the desire to use less animal products (37%)

About Upfield
At Upfield, we make people healthier and happier with great tasting, plant-based nutrition products that are better for the planet. As a global plant-based company, Upfield is the #1 producer of plant-based spreads & cheeses with more than 100 iconic brands, including Becel, Proactiv, Blue Band and Flora Plant. With headquarters in Amsterdam, we sell our products in over 95 countries and have 17 manufacturing sites throughout the world. The company employs over 4100 Associates. Since 1871, we have been the authority in the spreads category which gives us unmatched experience, know-how and inspiration. We are focused on leading in this new era focused on delivering healthier products that are great tasting, have superior quality and help us deliver on our mission to create “A Better Plant-Based Future.” For more information, please visit our website at www.Upfield.com.

This is How Corona Leads to a More Resilient, Sustainable and Healthy Food System

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused a global health and economic crisis like never seen before.  S2G Ventures conducted an extensive research about the implications for our food system. Their report is now avaible (click ‘read more’ below to read the full article and download the report). ​

The  coronavirus is reshaping industries, catalyzing innovation and encouraging resilience in business planning. Although the lasting impact on many industries is unknown, we see exciting innovation accelerating across automation, telemedicine, virtual reality and transparency systems (i.e., blockchain or similar technologies).

In the grocery store, private label market-share gains are poised to accelerate, as consumers tighten spending and look for value-focused alternatives. However, they researchers expect consumers to prioritize a balance of value and better-for-you brands instead of a complete tradeoff to value, consistent with the consumer megatrend towards better-for-you products.

Taking a step back, and observing the broader food value chain, there are three primary delivery vulnerabilities in the food system:

1. Agricultural inputs to farms (e.g., seeds, animal feed, fertilizer, et al.)
2. Farm products to processors, packagers, spot markets and export markets
3. Food to retail distribution

This is important, because the global food system relies on a just-in-time economy, where inventory levels are intentionally kept low. Meaning, that regardless if there is enough supply in existence, it may not be able to reach its proper destination if the supply chain is disrupted.

Consumer purchasing behavior coupled with innovation may drive changes in market share and pressure existing players in the market. Although COVID-19 is not creating a new trend, there are several trends that were in motion pre-coronavirus further accelerated by the pandemic, including alternative protein, indoor agriculture, digitalization of agriculture and grocery and food as medicine.

Although animal agriculture remains a large and growing market, the pandemic has exposed challenges with the industries long production cycles, centralized production and limited processing facilities. It has allowed for faster consumer adoption of alternative proteins, including plant-based protein, fungi, algae and other biomass concepts including cellular meat. Notably, some of these technologies are further along than other, for example plant-based protein has been a trend for several years, while cellular meat remains in a research and development phase. Whatever the next generation of protein is, it will be driven by production speed, price and taste.

A second trend that is accelerating is food as an immunity. The convergence of food, science and technology may unlock this sector and usher in a new era in microbiome, functional ingredients, precision and personalized nutrition and medical foods. Prior to COVID-19, this was largely driven by nutrition-related disease, but the pandemic has exposed at-risk populations, with approximately 90 percent of hospitalized patients having one or more underlying condition, with the most common underlying condition being obesity.

Beyond specific trend acceleration, several themes emerge throughout this research that are believe to be catalyzed and emerge in a post-COVID-19 world. Digitalization will likely be driven by dis-intermediation to allow for new relationships with the consumer and to reduce risk throughout the supply chain. Decentralized food systems allow for the automation of local (alternative protein and produce) and the reshaping of complex perishable supply chains to reduce shrink and waste. They are also more omnichannel congruent as e-commerce, specifically online grocery, adoption accelerates. De-commoditization in the food supply chain, coupled with technologies that place deflationary pressure on the industry, may help catalyze breeding for attributes beyond yield (taste, protein content, et al), a return to polyculture farming and a shift from a strict focus on yield to profit per acre.

Lastly, food as an immunity has the potential to bridge healthcare and food production and consumption for treatment of specific nutrition-related chronic lifestyle diseases, as well as change the future of brands to focus on unique, functional ingredients.

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How the EU-Financed Pro-Meat Campaign is Backfiring

Let’s talk about pork. The European Union is investing millions more in the meat industry over the next three years. A particular campaign that has drawn attention of many is aiming at getting young people in Mediterranean countries into eating more pork.

Although pork is still the most consumed type of meat in Europe and the demand for it is increasing worldwide, it has a surprisingly bad image among young people. High time to improve this with a campaign specifically aimed at people up to the age of 35. The slogan? Let’s talk about pork. (This is not a joke, feel free to read it back on the site of the European Union, or visit the site www.letstalkabouteupork.com)

The applicants for the million-dollar subsidy – pork giants such as Interporc and Agrupalto – are under the assumption that a quasi-cool social media advertising campaign can convince today’s climate-aware children of everything.

The Dutch journalist Emy Koopman suggested to hijack their hashtag and use it to show how funny, lovable and smart pigs really are.  This idea was a.o.  picked up by Dutch website The Happy Activist and they decided to help and make it easy to share lovable pork-facts. They made funny images that visitors could share using #letstalkaboutpork.

The campaign has swung back like a boomerang. If you check the hashtag on popular social media, you will see nothing but lovely pictures of friendly pigs. A great example of the power of consumers.

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Or here

Uncertainty in Post-corona Will Lead to Less Sustainable Behavior

We’ve seen many examples of studies showing that post-corona consumption behavior will be (a little) more sustainable. Belgian-British neuromarketing agency Beyond Reason predicts the opposite. Their analysis of actual consumer behavior data shows that during the crisis, ecology and sustainability have clearly lost importance in terms of impact on brand preferences and purchasing decisions

A small group,less than 10% of the population, is motivated strongly enough by ecology to let their behavior be guided by it. The other + 90% will hardly or not at all change their behavior. This is the case for the categories of ‘usual suspects’ such as air travel, meat consumption and cars, but also for cosmetics, food, household products, smartphones, insurance, utilities, etc.

During corona  the ecological motivation within the group of 8% increases slightly, but this group does not increase in size. At the same time, ecological motivation for the other 90% decreases sharply (-20 to -30%). This means that the big majority today is even less motivated to change its consumption in favor of a greener world.

The masses are worried about their own future, health wise and financially. ​The stronger this awareness, the more people turn away from the perceived frivolity of an ecological lifestyle. This is very unfortunate, but also understandable. Put yourself in the shoes of a householder who is unsure whether next month’s rent can be paid – would you still be spending money on organic carrots?

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UPDATE
​Research by NPD Group shows that snack food consumption in the US has increased by 8%. 37% of consumers are stockpiling salty snacks and frozen sweets. And this stockpiling has led to an increase in between meal snacking occasions.

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City of Amsterdam Switches to Vegetarian

Events of the City of Amsterdam will become vegetarian from 2020 onwards. People who would like to eat meat or fish at receptions, drinks and meeting lunches of the municipality must indicate this in advance. The Amsterdam Party for the Animals took the initiative. “Research has shown that meat and dairy products have a greater impact on the environment. Health gains can also be achieved, for example a lower risk of cardiovascular disease”, writes the party. Amsterdam is the first municipality to decide to do so.

The Ministry of Education, Culture and Science was one of the first government institutions to decide to change the standard as early as November last year. From now on, meat eaters will have to give up their preference there as well.

What about support among civil servants? “Patronage”, “madness”, “let people choose”. These are a few of the reactions on social media to the proposal of the city of Amsterdam to make vegetarian food the norm at their own events.

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PLUS Supermarket Creates it’s Own Pork Chain With Farmer

PLUS has entered into a partnership with 14 pig farmers. The farmers will deliver their meat exclusively to PLUS. Customers are therefore assured of the origin of their meat and meat products. The aim is to achieve a good balance between the availability of meat and PLUS actions, recipes, etc. in order to minimize the number of pigs required to meet demand. PLUS is a reliable party for pig farmers that guarantees volume and sales. After the start-up phase, the chain will work on reducing the environmental impact of pork, improving animal welfare and the taste of the meat.​

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Our mission is to help accelerate the transition to a more sustainable food system, by including the consumer as equally relevant stakeholder.

We offer accessible and clear consumer insights that help all actors in the food chain to effectively support & seduce the consumer to make the sustainable food choice.

Laan van Meerdervoort 36 - 2517AL - Den Haag - The Netherlands - Info@futureoffood.institute