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How to anticipate this trend

British spend ten times more on convenience lettuce than Germans do

Ten times more money is spent on prepackaged salads in the UK than in Germany. Why is that the case, and what sort of opportunities does that present on the German and on the British markets? Koen Hazenwinkel of EFMI and Jan Doldersum of Rijk Zwaan spoke on this topic at the German Obst & Gemüse Kongress last Friday.

Please click here for the photo report of the Obst & Gemüse Kongress

Retail under pressure
“Let’s begin with some facts about retail,” Koen Hazenwinkel began. This sector is under quite a bit of pressure. Food is being wasted and consumption will decrease because of ageing, and that is not an ideal situation. Competition is also a factor, and from a direction you would not necessarily expect. Non-food discounters, such as Action, are a direct and formidable competitor in food retail, having sales of 24 per cent of the food segment. And retailers also feel online suppliers such as Amazon Fresh breathing down their necks. “It is still uncertain what that will look like. However, it is a given that you have to anticipate them.” All in all, this distressing situation results in stiff competition, causing increasing supermarket density and a decreasing sales per m2 retail space. The contours of the victors are now looming from the dust of the battlefield. Discounters score: good quality products for the lowest prices are doing fine. But price appears not to be the most important factor when it comes to products that have value added. The higher-end retailers are also doing well. It is just the middle field that is being left behind.
Question two, then: How to become part of that higher segment? Where can opportunities be found? Hazenwinkel names various trends to innovate: convenience, enjoyment, health and good behaviour.

Germany versus the UK
Jan Doldersum shows what these opportunities offer to suppliers. In terms of convenience, major differences exist between the state in which several European markets are located. By now, ten times as much money is being spent on convenience lettuce products in the UK compared to Germany. “But expenses for this are increasing sharply on the German market,” Doldersum says. The British market is much further along in its life cycle than the German market, which is still in its infancy. That offers opportunities to suppliers.

Convenience products are bought in a different manner, more spontaneously. Distinctions can also be drawn by focusing on packaging, price and freshness of the product. Flavour counts for something as well: red, bitter lettuce does not do well in a single pack, yet it does well when it is in a mixed pack. Small difference between Germany and other countries? In France and the UK more attention is given to best-before-dates, in Germany, especially the look and the fresh appearance is important. 

Two striking trends: back to basics with Fresh&Naked, or unwashed lettuce, and demand for whole lettuce leafs, for example of the smaller Romaine variety.
Salanova and KNOX
Doldersum knows these figures, because Rijk Zwaan also works with these aspects. For example, the company developed Salanova several years ago already, making fresh, living produce readily available for consumers. Furthermore, KNOX was launched this year: lettuce strains that colour red less easily and appear fresh for a longer period because of that. That either offers opportunities for retailers who wish to play around with supplies, or for retailers who wish to supply consumers with better quality. Doldersum also cooperated on improving the retail landscape of South African supermarket Woolworths using this approach — improvement throughout the chain. The entire fresh assortment is further developed with new products and packagings.

Please click here for the photo report of the Obst & Gemüse Kongress
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