Post COVID-19 supply trends and solutions
Jon Evans, Managing Director, at Muddy Boots discusses the key supply trends and solutions we can expect to see post COVID-19 in 2021.
For many people shopping during the pandemic, it was the first time they had experienced shortages on supermarket shelves. Everyday essential purchases such as toilet paper, flour and milk were nowhere to be seen across the globe. Understandably, these shortages caused panic buying from consumers, worried at the possibility of not being able to feed their families.
The short-term impact caused by consumer panic buying and stockpiling, has highlighted the frailties of the food world and its supply chain. It has also changed longer-term consumer behaviour as uncertainty is driving people to seek safety, trust and healthiness from the products they purchase.
Brand trust, now more than ever, is a key trend post COVID-19. Consumers are flocking to the brands they trust, and increasingly want more visibility and transparency of their supply chains to maintain that trust. However, it’s now not just the responsibility of brand holders or retailers, it relies on all members throughout the supply chain to take responsibility, collaborate, build confidence and earn trust with their customers.
Key ingredients that underpin brand trust
The shift to ‘shop local’ during the pandemic has accelerated: consumers want to know where their products are coming from. They want to trust that brand holders and retailers have that supply chain visibility, being transparent and honest about this is vital.
A large proportion of the food industry can only look one step back in the traceability process, the expectation now is that we must be able to go deeper into our supply chains, especially if we are to deliver confidence on the question of provenance.
Food safety remains the number one ingredient to keep top of mind for all in the food chain, especially in the wake of all too frequent food and allergen labelling scares. Despite stricter governmental safety requirements, more companies will have taken things into their own hands to prevent issues not only those under their direct control, but also those issues that occur upstream within their supply chain.
With COVID-19 mortality rates being associated with the perception of low immunity, we see consumers looking for ways to protect themselves and as a result have seen an adoption of functional foods, or products that are capable of boosting the immune system.
This has seen a rise in the consumption of traditional fresh foods, especially fruit and vegetables, which are often at the centre of food borne diseases. Increasing the spotlight on product quality, not only to ensure you are consistently meeting customer quality expectations on the shelf, but also understand the components that lead to waste in these perishable products.
The global volume of food wastage is estimated at 1.6 billion tonnes. This wastage represents not only a missed opportunity to improve food security and sustainability, but also to mitigate the environmental impact of our global supply chains.
Real time data information on product quality from further upstream, combined with logistical factors such as cold chain management and predictive analytics, will all contribute to improved supply chain performance. Significantly helping with the hot topic of waste reduction.
Whilst sustainability may have taken a bit of a back seat during the pandemic, we expect it to dramatically accelerate through consumer pressure and political ambitions. Consumers are not only interested in the provenance of products but also how it was produced, this puts focus on questions surrounding welfare, environment and carbon footprint that ultimately points to a products sustainability credentials.
How to navigate these trends
In order to start getting to grips with these trends, you will need an effective Supply Chain Management System, that can support the visual mapping of the supply chain and identify what is often a complex tiered network of inter-relationships to understand who exactly is in your chain and discover the origin/source of a product.
Those organisations that can demonstrate greater transparency and deliver better end-to-end visibility upstream towards suppliers, internally and downstream towards customers, whilst maintaining control of their own supply chain, ensuring it’s dependability will be the organisations that thrive in 2021 and beyond.