HKScan’s business and operating environment are affected by global megatrends. Consumer trends and economic cycles have a direct and indirect impact both on our own business and that of our customers. To maintain our competitive edge, it is vitally important that we gain insight on the latest market trends to serve as a basis for our innovation and R&D work.
We listen to consumers and strive to gain forward-thinking market insights in order to understand today’s and tomorrow’s business environment. Through close cooperation with our customers, suppliers and other stakeholders, we strive to anticipate emerging trends in consumer behaviour, food retail, the food industry and food services in order to help us develop a commercially successful offering.
MEAT CONSUMPTION TRENDS
Meat consumption is showing no signs of decline on HKScan’s home markets. Meat is eaten by over 90 per cent of the population in our home markets. Meat consumption is continuing to rise globally, and this growth is expected to continue for at least another decade. In Europe, meat consumption is growing by a few per cent per year, owing mostly to growth in poultry consumption.
Food has become an increasingly important part of our daily lives and consumer identity. It is a widely discussed hot topic both in the media and social media. The links between good health and nutrition have been widely covered in the media recently. Consumers are also taking a growing interest in the environmental impacts of meat production. Read on for example of consumer trends that are directly impacting both HKScan and the entire food industry.
The changing concept of “mealtime” – snacking is on the rise
Many meals we enjoy these days – particularly on weekdays – are “mini-meals”, or basically snacks. This trend stems from our new urban lifestyle and the vast amount of time we spend commuting and enjoying leisure-time activities. The rise of snacking culture is also related to the fact that the average size of households is growing smaller. The percentage of one-person households is growing steadily in the Nordic countries. To a growing degree, consumers want a greater variety of alternatives, smaller packages, and high-quality products. Dining out is another trend that is clearly here to stay.
Food is part of our identity
Today’s consumers are hungry for new experiences. On the one hand, they want authentic, local products, and on the other hand, they are keen to try new, inspiring international flavours. Cooking and dining is becoming an increasingly communal experience. Whenever our busy schedules allow, we enjoy getting together with loved ones to enjoy a stress-free “slow dining” experience. More and more people are embracing food and cooking as a personal hobby, and social media is an inspiring platform for sharing new culinary ideas.
Many consumers who invest extra effort into their weekend meals want something different from their weekday cooking: ease and convenience – but without compromising on quality or responsibility.
We are seeing rapid proliferation of small, local producers and specialized niche suppliers, and their presence is expected to expand in the future.
The wellness tracking boom
Today’s consumers are interested in looking after their health and wellness. A growing number of them also keep tabs on their wellness with fitness trackers, sleep trackers and heart rate monitors. Health-conscious consumers want wholesome sources of protein, they are keen to reduce salt in their diet, and they favour clean label range products free of artificial additives. Many consumers wish to reduce their consumption of fats and sugars. Vegan and organic product ranges are also expanding rapidly.
Corporate responsibility is the new normal
Today’s consumers expect a solid commitment to corporate responsibility both in the products they consume as well as from the manufacturers. All links in the supply chain are expected to adhere to uniform principles of responsibility. Today, everyone from primary producers, industrial manufacturers and retailers to the HoReCa industry and public sector must be mindful of the environmental and climate impacts of their actions. Other priorities include social and economic responsibility as well as product traceability and animal welfare throughout the entire supply chain.
Packaging: protection, communication, sustainability
New-generation innovations such as smart and active packaging are making a breakthrough. New packaging materials and solutions can help to extend the shelf life of food products and also to reduce food waste. Consumers expect packaging to be as eco-efficient as possible. Optimized sizing and renewable raw materials are rising trends in packaging. Labelling is also gaining importance; consumes expect clear, explanatory labels that are fully transparent in their informative content. They also expect to be provided as much information as possible on the product’s life cycle. The number of single-person households is on the rise, which is pushing demand for optimized sizing of products and packaging.
The retail industry is in the midst of a major transition. The line between shops and restaurants is being blurred, which is altering patterns of consumer behaviour. Rapid urbanization is a positive indicator for traditional brick and mortar establishments, provided that they are able to offer services and offerings that are carefully tailored to the needs of specific customers.
International competition and digitalization are posing challenges for traditional, domestic retail chains. Price competition is growing fiercer. Private-label brands have seized a growing market share and strengthened their foothold also in the fresh meat segment.
While the proliferation of digital services is posing a threat to the future of traditional brick-and-mortar establishments, online platforms also present a number of exciting opportunities. Digital platforms offer retailers a new channel for reaching out, serving and interacting with consumers. They provide a real-time environment for faster, more open communication on topics such as food quality, health, origin and traceability and corporate responsibility.
For now, food industry e-commerce remains relatively small in scale on HKScan’s home markets. The food industry needs to find new ways of getting closer to its key customers, fostering innovation, increasing the visibility of its brands and promoting growth alongside private-label brands. One of the key assets offered by traditional retailers is the high quality and broad selection of fresh foods included in their offering.
Ready-to-heat meals are gaining popularity in the HoReCa segment. Sous vide and other slow-cooked products are also in high demand. Recent trends in the food services sector largely conform to those in the retail segment: on-the-go meals are on the rise and locally-grown meat that is traceable from farm to fork is likewise gaining popularity.