by   |    |  Estimated reading time: 3 minutes  |  in Process Manufacturing, Supply Chain   |  tagged , , ,

How the ‘evening economy’ is bringing about a significant change in the food and beverage supply chain and the products available.

Healthy and more adventurous eating are becoming the norm. More and more of us are now eating fresh products cooked with an ever-increasing range of fresh ingredients, herbs and spices. But with the working day extending, available time in the evening is bringing about a change in the way people buy and serve up their healthy meals. For process manufacturing businesses, this ‘evening economy’ is bringing about a significant change in the food and beverage supply chain and the products available.

The ‘delivered menu’

Recipe kits provided by the likes of Gousto and HelloFresh are an expanding market worth billions of dollars. This is a booming industry with existing companies demonstrating double digit growth and an ever-increasing number of new entrants.

The principle is simple: a menu of fresh ingredients is delivered to your door for you to cook. Users of the various sites select their meal plan for the week choosing from a limited menu, then have the selection of ingredients right down to the individual herbs and spices required delivered along with recipe instructions.

Are the retailers fighting back?

Challenging this onslaught, the retailers are fighting back with freshly prepared uncooked solutions, proteins stuffed and seasoned in every cooking style together with prepared pasta, vegetables and sauces to simply add. This model requires the user to be inventive with their combinations but ultimate flexibility. Retailers already provide a limited range of boxed meals in the UK and in the US the trend is the same. How long will it be before they provide ‘suggested’ meal combinations boxed and delivered by their already growing home delivery networks?

What this means to the food producers

It’s too early to know who will win or even if there is to be an outright winner, trading off the ease of home delivery for a limited menu against in-store, user defined daily choice and that thought of “I feel like having Italian tonight.” Whatever happens, the supply chain landscape is changing, with more complex products to deliver, ingredient suppliers delivering indirect and direct to different customer markets and an ever-growing number of outlets.

While the industry is still trying to get to terms with the dynamics of serving the ‘evening economy,’ some fundamental principles prevail. Food producers need to focus on their supply chain and production processes to accommodate behavioral trends and changing buying habits – be that volume and frequency of orders, increased product variation or delivering rapid new product innovation. Having the knowledge and understanding of your business and marrying that with insight in terms of industry expertise will enable forward thinking process manufacturers to capitalize on change.

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