FOOD AND BEVERAGE RETAILERS MUST HAVE APPETITE FOR TECHNOLOGY TO REMAIN ON TOP, SAYS INDUSTRY EXPERT

Saturday 16 February 2019
Dubai - MENA Herald:

Supermarkets and hypermarkets must capitalise on technological developments and create the perfect mix of instore and online offerings to meet consumer demand if they are to remain the dominant force in a rapidly evolving food and beverage retail landscape.

That is the message from Ashraf Ali M.A, LuLu Group International Executive Director, who will address the first Gulfood Innovation Summit, a robust new conference series that will explore and examine the latest challenges and opportunities facing the industry, which runs alongside Gulfood 2019 – the world’s largest annual food and beverage trade industry forum – from, 18-20 February at Dubai World Trade Centre (DWTC).

Speaking ahead of his participation in a panel discussion ‘Revolutionising Retail for the Changing Consumer’, Ali believes retailers should prioritise the convenience of customers as they seek to service an estimated one million extra consumers by 2030, with world population figures on track to reach 8.5 billion.

“Consumers are becoming much more educated, knowledgeable and trendy,” said Ali. “There will come a day when the one-store format won’t fit all the lifestyle preferences of your customer base. Segmentation and customisation of offerings are required to ensure convenience to customers, whether it implemented through online shopping or the traditional brick-and-mortar store.”

“As retailers, it is vital to make each shopping experience memorable and convenient. Technologies should serve as an enhancement tool for introducing better shopping,” added Ali. “Innovative formats, such as self-service check-out counters, cashless & card payment options, smart trolleys, click and collect on, virtual marketing, and augmented reality, all must be embraced so consumers benefit from a world-class shopping experience at the most convenient format.”

Retailers must listen to customers and adapt quickly

Shifting consumer choices are driving retailers to think more about their offering, with the Gulfood Global Industry Outlook Report 2018 stating: “For middle to premium consumers, a shift to local and specialist stores is driving sales of premium, natural and organic foods, allowing traditional and independent grocers to maintain their market share at 26 per cent globally. All leading global retailers have also adopted omnichannel approaches to the market, with large investment establishing a strong presence in mobile retailing.”

Ali insists retailers must continue to listen to their customers. “People are becoming very health conscious nowadays, more aware of ecology, sustainability and the environment. These are the key elements that have been adding new dimensions to retail. We are continuously improving our supermarket offerings, which currently include specific categories and sections to highlight speciality products, such as natural, organic, free range, low-carb, and diet-oriented products,” added the food retail heavyweight.

The panel discussion ‘Revolutionising retail for the changing consumer’ is among an array of Summit sessions that will shed light on the future direction the food industry and reinforce how Gulfood 2019 is raising the food industry forum bar, say event organiser.

“The global food and beverage industry is changing at a rapid pace with technology and consumer preferences causing huge shifts in market dynamics. The Gulfood exhibition will shine a light on the latest innovative solutions for food producers and suppliers, while the Gulfood Innovation Summit will service industry professionals with knowledge to tackle the latest and future challenges and opportunities,” said Trixie LohMirmand, Vice President, Exhibitions and Event, DWTC.

“Together the exhibition and summit demonstrate why Gulfood continues to increase its worldwide appeal and is the place to be for all industry professionals.”

Summit heads Gulfood 2019 features

The Summit is one of eight new features integrated into Gulfood - the world’s largest annual food & beverage trade exhibition – which this year celebrates its 24th edition. Innovation is the byword of this year’s show, which will run at the DWTC from February 17-21 and take up more than 1,000,000 square feet with 5,000 exhibitors promoting a vast range of new products, concepts and technology.

With a packed exhibitor house and vibrant new features, DWTC is confident that February 2019 will see the show attract upwards of 98,000 attendees from 198 countries. Together with Gulfood’s well-established features of Halal World, for the global F&B halal market, Discover Zone, which highlights industry innovation and the CEZVE/IBRIK World Championship, DWTC has widened the show’s scope and capabilities as it heads towards its 2020 silver anniversary.

Gulfood Innovation Summit is free to attend for Gulfood badged visitors. Gulfood 2019 is a trade event open strictly to business and trade visitors. The show is open 11am-7pm from February 17 – 20 and 11am-5pm on February 21.

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