The global pandemic has accelerated consumer expectations and demands in the food industry not only in relation to what is available and how quickly, but logistics also plays an ever increasingly important role as the focus of the consumer shifts to the overall customer experience that comes with a product or brand.
Sustainability and logistics is increasingly a prominent topic in all industries and with consumers becoming more conscious of emissions, it may not be long before pressure mounts to display a product’s sustainability as a food industry standard.
When looking at food product packaging you can expect to find all sorts of information relating to what it contains, where it comes from and whether or not it is fair trade. But one thing that you usually won’t find is the journey it took to arrive on your local supermarket or shop shelf. According to a recent report from the EIT Food Trust Tracker, consumers do not have enough information on the sustainability of food products and may be put off making a purchase when knowing that a brand could be leaving a large carbon footprint with their transportation of goods. Increasingly, consumers want information about the carbon footprint of a product which will inevitably increase the demand for the labelling of environmental sustainability of food on product packaging.
When you take into account the current most popular form of transport for goods and food products, it is easy to understand why pressure from consumers is beginning to build. Most goods and food products are transported via road but as consumer purchasing habits evolve with a focus on convenience, variety, experience, quality, source and health; these factors are impacting companies logistics networks in respect not only of distribution networks and methods but also other factors such as packaging; design and materials used and thus the overall “brand experience”. For example, new companies are coming to the fore for fast online food order with delivery by bike to service the supply chain and demand.
Rail freight could also help the food industry to reduce carbon emissions as 38% of the UK rail network is already electrified and plans to further expand this have recently just resumed. Some companies are already seeing the advantages that rail freight can bring, launching investment programmes to transition a large proportion of its distribution network away from the road and onto rails. Currently Tesco is on track to save more than 5,000 tonne of CO2 each year, demonstrating the huge potential and using this to act as a differentiator from its competitors.
Logistics is a key factor and part of the overall consumer experience which is becoming ever more prominent and a driving factor in the consumer’s choice of brand and product. Companies will need to continue to adapt; be flexible, imaginative and innovative to meet the ever challenging and changing consumer demand.