Keep up with trends, exporters urged

RMC2013 - Professor David Hughes. Photo B+LNZNew Zealand meat exporters will need to keep up with trends overseas to keep ahead of competitors. In his signature style, clad in a pink-striped shirt, Professor David Hughes, emeritus professor of food marketing from Imperial College, London, picked out the latest retail trends in another entertaining and thought-provoking presentation.

He talked of quality private ‘own’ labels which are “very, very strong” in recessionary times such as these, as consumers trade down, but still focus on quality essentials, said Hughes. He pointed to recent Australian figures showing Japanese families trading down from chilled grain-fed beef to grass-fed. The growth in 90 CL (chemical lean) ground beef in the US is down to consumers moving to “cheap and cheerful” burgers.

“As people get more budget-conscious they move to private labels, rather than brands,” he added.

He also noted the rise of the use of technology and the growth in comparative pricing in the UK, which is driving retail prices down in general.

Sainsbury's brand matchSainsbury’s now tell you “at the till” whether you could have bought cheaper at Asda and Tesco. If you could they refund the difference via a voucher for your next shop, and if not they tell you how much you have saved by shopping in their stores, he said. “Think of the technology involved!”

Smartphone technology enables retailers to deliver tailored promotions to customers as they walk around the store, while virtual shopping kiosks at railway stations and airports are enabling shoppers to select what they want, pay for it and have it delivered by the time they get home.

Other innovations include ‘Click and pick’ – buying online in the evening and going to a drive through store to pick it up in the morning. “There’s even an app to ‘save a supermarket trolley today’,” Hughes commented.

The nature of supplier relationships has been completely changed too by the ‘Horsegate’ affair, which resulted in Tescos apology for the horsemeat found in its supposedly ‘beef’ products.

“McDonalds have done well out of it, though. The media went to them first and found their products were lily-white and had no problem at all.”Red Meat Sector Conference 2013

It highlights supply chain integrity and also that values for shoppers are not only about price, said Hughes who expects DNA testing for meat will now be “a matter of course.”

As the US is starting to regulate and legislate to deal with its obesity problem, health is another issue that is top of mind for other retailers too. They are talking about delivering hints to customers to encourage healthier eating patterns.

According to Professor Hughes, “New Zealand has a brilliant story. Make more of it,” he urged.


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