Tomra’s cutting-edge technology is preparing to respond to the future and changing needs of tomorrow’s supermarkets
Food companies have to change to remain competitive, both online and in their physical stores, and in their classification and processing plants. Bjorn Thumas, Food Sales Development Manager at TOMRA Food, analyses what could be expected in this area.
Over the next decade, an annual 13.5% growth in the global market of online food sales is predicted, going from today’s 43,000 million euros to 135,000 million in the year 2025. Business analysts indicate that, although electronic sales companies are making an effort to be present in the US and Europe, the saturation of the market with existing food products and the very small profit margins are hindering this. Therefore, they understand that Asia will be the continent that will accelerate the growth of the electronic sales market for food products due to the following factors: a greater number of consumers ready to purchase food products over the internet; its fast urban development; low labour costs and its retailer market, which is relatively undeveloped.
An example of growth potential is China, the most populated country in the world, where the proportion of electronic trade on the food products market is currently only 4.2% of the total. To put this into perspective, in its neighbour, Japan, this percentage reaches 7.2% and in South Korea it is already at 16.6%. This can be seen as a clear indicator that companies like the Chinese multinational Alibaba Group, owner of alibaba.com, will be at the forefront of the most important changes.
Increase in client expectations
Consumers will continue increasing their expectations and developing a more critical eye when buying fresh fruit or vegetables. More and more people want to know if the produce is really fresh and if it is ready for eating, or when it will be. In fact, the growing middle class is increasingly aware of food safety and demands more information, such as where the produce comes from and how the food that they are going to eat has been processed. This is the way in which a larger number of clients will be attracted and made loyal: by showing their importance and passing on the feeling that they are being treated as individuals.
The demand created by these online ‘stimuli’ will represent a serious challenge for the traditional supply chain of food products. To meet the demand, the processing lines will have to know in detail which products they are going to receive and the stocks they have. The quality and the food safety standards will, therefore, have to be higher than ever before.
Technology to boost quality and food safety
These opportunities and threats mean that machinery, such as the equipment produced by TOMRA, the leading supplier of optical classification and food peeling equipment, once again plays an increasingly important role when meeting client expectations and protecting the supplier’s prestige.
The calibrating and inspection equipment, placed at source – before shipping to the supermarket, or in the online warehouse, could ensure that the production meets with the desired size and ripeness requirements, without any bumps or mould. Additionally, the classification equipment at different phases of the supply chain will be able to provide other indicators regarding produce quality.