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How food processors can connect to consumer values

3 min read

Canadians know what they want from their food. They read labels, watch prices and choose products that align with their values. They want more than a reasonable price; they want quality ingredients and a memorable taste experience.

It’s a market that requires agility and adaptation as food processors shift their offerings to respond to consumers’ needs.

Price driven

Rising prices continue to be a hot topic as Canadians respond to the effects of an escalating shopping bill. Today’s shoppers are highly adaptive, including changing their meal plans and shopping location based on the available promotions.

“This is a golden period for discounters right now because they can offer lower prices,” says Francis Parisien, senior vice-president of sales, SMB Canada, at NeilsonIQ.

Inflation is shifting how and where Canadians shop. They are changing their buying patterns, trading down in categories and looking for less expensive meals throughout the week.

Food processors must consider this new reality when developing and delivering their products. This includes working with retailers to collaborate on both pricing and promotions.

Food processors have adopted a strategy to minimize the impact of the price by decreasing the package size.

“As far as the inflation piece, smaller packages will happen to help reduce the sticker price shock,” says Peter Chapman, founder of SKU Foods. This strategy allows food processors to maintain the quality of the product by retaining the same ingredients.

However, price is only one factor driving demand. The younger demographics, specifically Millennials and Generation Z, want food products that meet their values.

Understand the Millennial mindset

Stating that you’re a local processor is no longer enough – consumers want to know what makes this product different.

The inflated cost of living is driving the Millennial consumer out of food service and back into the grocery store, specifically the discount locations. Although Millennials may be heading to discounters, they shop the aisles differently than their Boomer counterparts.

“Millennials are big shoppers of organics, plant-based and products with a strong sustainability story,” Parisien says. These consumers seek products from mid to small-scale processors who can respond to their wish list.

Stating that you’re a local processor is no longer enough – consumers want to know what makes this product different from the other products on the shelf.

“Food processors need to get past the fact that everybody will love their product; instead, they need to focus on who their people are and give them a reason to become a part of your community,” Chapman says.

It’s about providing constant value so consumers remain a part of that community, whether it’s providing them with information, recipes, or insights.

Potential in plant-based

One value that continues to resonate across all demographics is plant-based. However, food processors need to think beyond burgers and chicken nuggets to maintain relevancy in this saturated section.

”There needs to be more focus on quality plant proteins and less trying to replicate the animal protein,” Chapman says.

For food processors, this could mean tapping into different ethnicities and highlighting recipes that highlight plant-based protein in new ways. Chapman anticipates that the continued interest in this category will carve the space for products to go beyond the freezer section and into the fresh aisle.

This demand for value-laden products continues to make space for small emerging brands that can fulfill the specific needs of this market.

3 tips to strengthen consumer connections

  1. Know your customers. Invest the time in understanding your target audience, their wants, needs and challenges – then adapt your product to respond to them.

  2. Don’t compromise on quality. Consumers are more aware than ever, and food processors need to respond to that.

  3. Develop strong partnerships with your retailers. “Focus on what the retailer is looking for — sales growth, better margins, loyal customers — and respond to those needs,” Chapman says. Retailers are actively seeking reliable food processors that are strong partners, which includes aiding with product promotion and maintaining a high level of service.

Article by: Anne-Marie Hardie

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