The food and agricultural industries in the UK face an ever changing landscape. There are big challenges ahead that show no sign of abating, which made the latest meeting of the Chartered Institute of Marketing Food, Drink and Agricultural Group a lively event.
With an audience of around 70 CIM members and guests they benefitted from informed opinions and advice from industry experts across a range of fields. The discussion started with the controversial subject of GM food. There was general agreement that consumers were gradually beginning to come round to the idea. Andy Thompson, European Director of Genus plc pointed out that this may in some way be due to consumers now having a better understanding and realising that it could be the only viable way to tackle world hunger. Andy continued saying that the one guarantee is that whilst the West spends time debating the topic “China and Asia will snap it up” and go on to lead the way in this field.
Moving to a debate ‘provenance or price’ Clive Black, Senior Analyst at Shore Capital pointed out that despite the general assumption that price is winning the war, fuelled by the success of the discounters, the actual facts are that “92% of transactions don’t take place at Aldi and Lidl”. He went on to say that discounters are not a new phenomenon and that they too have provenance high on their agendas and that a key factor driving change in the retail sector was the complacency of the major supermarkets. Foodmanufacture.co.uk looks into this further in the following article http://www.foodmanufacture.co.uk/Business-News/Retail-turmoil-due-to-complacency-not-discounters.
One issue that could not be ignored was the on-going debate on sugar. The panel was asked about best practice when a company’s reputation is threatened; Keith Beech, crisis communications expert and a Director at Core Management advised that whilst crises were sometimes unpreventable being well prepared was the best form of defence. He commented that “planning, speed and honesty” were the holy grail in crisis situations. He thought that having a tried and tested strategy in place was integral to a company’s reputation surviving a crisis.
Despite challenges attendees agreed that 2014 is looking to be a good year for the sectors.