Olaf Hohmann, board member of the EHI Retail Institute, presented the results of an EHI study on gastronomy in retail at this year’s European Convenience Forum, which also examined companies from this sector. He showed, among other things, what trends and opportunities exist in the convenience sector for the out-of-home market. According to the preliminary results of the study, the share of convenience products in food production is 70.7 percent. 74 percent of respondents stated that they already have convenience items on the shelves.
The outdoor market fell by 30 percent
Expenditure in the out-of-home market increased by more than 22 billion euros in the period from 2009 to 2019. This can be explained, among other things, by the increase in the number of smaller households. In terms of mobility, there is also a greater trend towards on-the-go consumption. Strict meal structures, breakfast, lunch and dinner, disappeared more and more. During the pandemic 2020/2021, however, outdoor consumption has fallen by 30 percent.
By 2022, inflation, commodity and energy prices, labor shortages and the war in Ukraine have had a negative impact on consumption outside the home. This gap in revenue was closed by domestic consumption and thus sales in the retail trade: Net revenue here increased from 2019 to 2020 to almost 14 billion euros. “The winners in the sector in the period 2020/2021 were very clearly conventional supermarkets, ie stores with an area of 400 to 2,500 square meters. Discount stores, in turn, have suffered losses,” says Olaf. But in the summer months of 2021, when the pandemic was not too strong, there was a slight increase in revenue in the out-of-home market.
Pros and cons of convenience foods
The target markets for convenience products are primarily retail and gastronomy. High convenience is especially aimed at gastronomy. “These are products that are not manufactured mechanically or industrially, but which are processed, portioned and vacuumed by hand. These products can be processed by gastronomers in portions. They are of a very high quality, partly because no preservatives are used. In particular. Wholesalers like to focus on these products. “
The advantages of convenience products are that less work and preparation time is required and that it is cheaper to keep stock. Gastronomy also has the advantage that specialized staff is generally not required. At the same time, these products are also more expensive, and sometimes the use of preservatives, at least with standard convenience products, can not be completely omitted.
Trends and opportunities
“Vegetables, vegan and vegetarian are still very clear trends. In addition, more and more meat substitutes are appearing on supermarket shelves. Regionality and seasonality are also important for consumers, while fresh quality is also visually gaining more and more space in retail., Which means, that there will be more space for the fresh food department, “says Olaf.
There is also more emphasis on “really” healthy food, which means that juices, which contain a lot of vitamin C, but at the same time contain up to 60 grams of sugar per glass, are no longer as popular as before. be. “On the other hand, ‘comfort food’, such as a tasty waffle or currywurst with french fries and mayonnaise, is still one of the trends. Sustainability and animal welfare will be important themes in the future, especially in retail.”
“Morality dies on the shelf”
However, a grocery survey showed that while consumers are interested in these topics and express themselves positively about them, it is more out of social desirability and less of an inherent motivation: “Morality is dying on the shelf,” said one grocer. People often choose cheaper products. “The topic of minimum durability also still plays a big role, while Olaf emphasizes that the reaction rate of the trade is crucial. In addition, gastronomy is increasingly focusing on recycled packaging as an alternative to the disposable packaging that has usually been used until now. especially for take-away products.
Opportunities and opportunities
Freshness is more popular than ever before, and it requires matching space in supermarkets and especially on shelves, says Olaf, pointing out that similar concepts can already be seen at gas stations. The number of autonomous stores is also increasing, which could be interesting for the convenience sector in particular. According to Olaf, it is important to consciously strive for differentiating factors in order to be able to clearly distinguish oneself from others. “You do not have to be part of every trend. But the concept of ‘food for the soul’ is very important,” he says.
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