Tag Archives: Marks & Spencer

Global Groceries: News from the Front

6 Jun

On the Front Lines of Food Retail

I’ve spent the last few years as a kind of globe-trotting retail anthropologist innovating for top supermarkets and restaurants round the world. From vantage points in the US, UK, Canada and Australia, its clear the food industry is battling two fast-moving fronts: Digital and “Diabesity” (DD).  Digital technology, in the form of near 24/7 on-line shopping, meals delivery and personalized coupons, isn’t yet as bulging as waistlines, but it’s sweeping the aisles at pace. Diabesity, aka the packaged food diet, hasn’t met a stranger yet, and whilst its killing processed foodies, it’s also confounding center store merchants, beverage companies and mass manufacturers alike.

Healthy Retailing = Food + Sport

When I founded Food Sport in 2009, I set out to build a link between food retailing, restaurants and manufacturing, by addressing the emerging need to re-think business models alongside the growing imperatives in global diets and health.  I’ve learned a lot, scored successes and failed some too, but what’s become apparent to me, is that despite some cultural differences, for example the Aussies and Poms enjoy a bizarre, uni-directional trolley wheel,  the industry shares the same challenges, though the leaders are sprinting rather than power-pointing.

Responsibility to Lead

Food has the unique power to lift economies and transform health. I recently returned to Sydney from two weeks in the States discussing DD with leaders in Washington, DC, and then during panels at the Milken Global Conference in LA (#2014gc).  From coast to coast, from Whole Foods to Pepsi, Let’s Move! to G.E., CVS to George Washington University and more,  I can report that food policy is on both public and private menus, but it’ll take expertise and experience to catalyze change.

We can make the healthy choice the easy choice by designing smarter, smaller, more efficient stores and tailoring the range (Trader Joes, USA).  We can use only whole foods and native ingredients (Chef Kylie Kwong, AU). We can use web/mobile to shift the mix to higher grossing, healthy own brand (Zipongo, USA). We can make cigarettes -$2.5b harder to find (Troy Brennan/CVS, USA).  We can advocate customers, and their loyalty, by providing access to fresh food and education (Walter Robb/Whole Foods, USA/UK).  We can employ digital technology to blunt Amazon (Fresh Direct, NYC, Click & Collect, Tesco, UK, Woolworths, AU). We can pedal healthy vending machines and natural snacks (Fresh Vending, Bolthouse Farms, USA/ AU).  We can harness science and self-manufacturing for good (H-E-B Grocery, Mootopia Milk). We can combine fresh food with convenience in the city centre (Waitrose, Marks & Spencer, UK). We can champion family dinner with affordable, clean-label rotisserie chicken (Costco, Can). We can manufacture clean-label prepared foods (Bakkavor, UK).  We can grow kids who chef (Jamie Oliver, Woolworths Supermarkets, AU).

There are countless examples round the globe today that showcase the power and ingenuity of the food industry doing well, by doing good. To affect the scope and scale of reform needed to restore health in our communities and grow profits in our board rooms, learn from the best, adopt innovation, and decide to make it a race rather than a journey.

Share your ideas…and saddle up!

 

Suzy Monford is the President/Founder of Food Sport International. Some of the companies she’s worked with include: USA:H-E-Butt Grocery, H-E-B Central Market.  AU: Coles, Woolworths Supermarkets. UK: Morrisons. Canada: Loblaw Great Food. Contact her on linkedIn or suzy.monford@foodsportinternational.com.