In the current framework, in the aftermath of the health crisis and rising global inflation, the distribution has been questioned by some, and even pointed out, but based on data, realities and reactions of a consumer. It is defended with what Pablo de la Rica describes as “complex, demanding and intelligent” throughout the interview. In the midst of this complexity, AECOC’s Retail Knowledge Manager describes in this interview a situation in which consumers have changed their habits out of obligation, but do not give up fresh produce because they are looking for something “healthy, sustainable, convenient and innovative”. Looking for Food ingredient. , The challenge for distribution is to continue to offer that at competitive prices.
Valencia Fruit. Health, stability, proximity… have these consumption trends continued or has inflation changed the equation?
Paul de la Rica It is clear that inflation is adapting to consumption habits. We have spent several months with price hikes due to increase in production cost and this affects the purchasing power of consumers.
“Today price is the main reason for buying, which favors the change of brands and brands in search of better prices or reduction of purchase volume”
The main result is that today price is the main reason for buying, which, among other issues, favors the change of brands and brands or the reduction of purchase quantities in search of better prices.
“The consumer wants products at the best value, but also healthy, sustainable, convenient and innovative”
However, we are facing a sophisticated consumer who looks beyond price. 66% of consumers confirm they do not want to give up eating a healthy diet, half consider the sustainability factor in their shopping and more than 40% have added new products to their final basket. The consumer wants products at the best value, but also healthy, sustainable, convenient and innovative.
VF. Does price influence consumer perception of the need to buy certain foods such as fruits and vegetables or sustain interest in healthy eating?
pr. As I said, even in the current context of inflation, most of the population aspires to have a healthy diet, in which produce is key.
If consumption of fresh produce has declined, especially in categories such as fish or meat, it is because consumers are more cautious in their purchases and seek savings, which may lead to buying and switching products and brands for cheaper alternatives. leads to a reduction in the amount of
This doesn’t mean that interest in the healthy factor is down or that the perception of fresh produce has changed.
VF. How can brands of vegetable products work to elevate the importance of healthy eating above PVP in the eyes of the consumer?
pr. Both manufacturers and distributors are refining their strategies to drive consumption of new products, placing value on features that remain a priority for consumers.
In the case of fruits and vegetables, we know that apart from the price, consumers also take very seriously the appearance, the fact that they are seasonal, local produce…
On the other hand, convenient formats that facilitate the consumption or preparation of fresh products are also increasingly present on the shelves.
Even in the current context, the key is for manufacturers and distributors to be able to add value to their offers so that the consumer feels that they are paying an adequate price.
“The consumer is wise and takes the initiative to limit their spending in the shopping cart”
VF. Consumers have to search and compare more than ever to buy what they need within their budget. What advice can be given to this consumer to make this search efficient?
pr. Consumers are wise and take the initiative to limit their spending in the shopping cart. The distribution sector in Spain is extremely competitive and offers consumers as many establishments and brands to choose from as they are doing.
“With a high commitment to operational excellence and consumers, DISTRIBUTION is responding to unforeseen circumstances by continuously improving its efficiency”
VF. How is Spanish distribution reacting to this situation with which three completely disruptive years have been added?
pr. With a high commitment to operational excellence and consumers, the distribution is responding to unforeseen circumstances by continuously improving its efficiency.
The data demonstrate this: even in the most critical moments of the pandemic, the level of product availability on supermarket shelves did not drop below 90% – the highest in Europe – and is already consolidated at around 95%. The health crisis would have been very different if it had been accompanied by a shortage of basic products.
“The entire agri-food value chain is adjusting its margins and improving its strategies to be more efficient and limit the impact of inflation on Spanish households”
With inflation, the entire agri-food value chain is adjusting its margins and improving its strategies to be more efficient and limit the impact of inflation on Spanish households. The best indication that this sector is becoming a dam to contain inflation is the fact that food production costs have increased by 45% since 2021 and on the other hand, the increase in the price of products remained less than half Is.
VF. What role does AECOC play within the sector and how can it act at a time in which it has experienced public accusation?
pr. Beyond public debates, AECOC, like the rest of trade associations and companies, maintains the objective of consolidating and creating a sector that is next to consumers and that is more efficient an engine of innovation and employment.
VF. Has this campaign affected the image of distribution in the society?
pr. This more than reflects that we are facing cost inflation, wherein the food sector has not only driven up margins but also restrained the growth in the shopping basket. Apart from public speeches, all institutions, including the government, which are analyzing the development of inflation, agree on this diagnosis. Consumers are sensible and know that distribution is not causing undue price rise.
VF. Is the future of distribution going to be affected by the current situation or is it a temporary situation?
pr. In the last three years, all companies have learned to live with uncertainty. This means that projects and long-term plans are made at most one year ahead with constant revisions.
Distribution has been shown to be flexible and adaptable to any situation, so we should hope that in the future it will know how to respond to new situations as they arise, as it has over the past three years.
VF. And in terms of consumption habits? Are we moving towards a new paradigm?
pr. The same happens with consumption habits. Since the pandemic, consumer behavior has been analyzed more frequently, as consumers respond to changes in less and less time. However, we also see that there are issues that continue to be buyers’ preferences, even as the landscape changes.
Today we see how the price factor determines many purchasing decisions, but at the same time, consumers continue to demand healthy, sustainable and innovative products from the sector.
We are facing a demanding consumer who wants the best value without sacrificing other features.