SIAL 2012, the global food marketplace as the organizers call it, took place between Oct 21st and Oct 25th in Paris and reunited over 150.000 professional visitors from the world food industry, becoming for a few days the focus point for trends and innovations in retail and foodservice.
SIAL 2012 once again confirmed its leader position this year, in the world of trade food fairs, succeeding in recording a 10 per cent rise in visitors, compared to 2010, despite the unfavorable economic context in Europe. Thus, according to the latest data presented by organizers, 150,192 professionals attended SIAL 2012, of which over 62 per cent foreign companies coming from 200 countries.
In a manner similar to previous editions, innovations were the main driver for the event and the organizers arranged a special area for innovative products, which in turn became once of the most effervescent meeting points for the food professionals who attended SIAL. Furthermore, the events organized during the five days at the Villepinte Exhibition Center, among which conferences, round tables, product presentations and food tastings underlined the recent food industry trends, changes in consumer behavior and motivating factors which determine consumers to purchase foodstuffs during their shopping trips.
Pleasure – the main driver for innovation
During the global food fair, market research companies XTC World Innovation and TNS Soffres presented some of the most important factors which lead to positive responses from consumers, during the purchasing act. Thus, five major directions were noticed, which correspond to the consumers’ general expectations, referring to foodstuffs.
Pleasure – the main component which creates a strong buying decision and which carries a deep emotional connection.
Health – products associated with beneficial effects for one’s health and which prevent various risks to one’s well being.
Physical – products which contribute to the physical appearance of consumers.
Comfort – useful foodstuffs, easily adapted to the modern lifestyle of today’s consumers.
Ethical – products which do not have a significant impact on the environment, which can demonstrate a track record of solidarity and care towards the surroundings.
According to the joint market study drafted by TNS and XTC on the most important world markets, 84% of consumers strongly trust foodstuffs they buy. However, there are significant differences from one country to the next: over 90 per cent of Spaniards, English and Americans state that they deeply trust their foodstuffs, compared to 85% of French and Germans, 80 per cent of Chinese and only 64 per cent of Russians. In fact, the study emphasizes that on the two latter markets was recorded the most significant decrease in consumer confidence, by 35 per cent in Russia and by 50 per cent in China.
The main consequence of such a decrease is reflected in the need of the consumer to find tangible proof in the characteristics of the food products they may want to purchase. As a consequence, product ingredients are paramount for 55 per cent of customers worldwide, followed by place of origin (50%) and information printed on labels (45%). However, consumers rely on established brands as a sign of trust in a particular product in only 36 per cent of cases. “We have been going through a process of change in terms of our inherent values over the last few years. We are sick of consumption – for the first time the consumer no longer wants to consume, an unprecedented demographical change as a result of the ageing of the population. As time accelerates in a world of immediacy, people prefer to enjoy the moment,” says Pascale Grelot-Girard, Director of the Consumer Department at TNS SOFRES. “Manufacturers of industrial products must find a way in which to promote the intrinsic qualities of the natural products or ingredients. This is a field which still presents a surprising source of opportunities for the future”, he added.
Cheap products remain on top
The TNS XTC study also identified the main 12 trends regarding worldwide consumer behavior, the first three of which are explained below.
Basic products, which are cheap but gratifying. “Budget” products, often obviously simple with very basic packaging, are less attractive. It is as if consumers were asking manufacturers and other distributors to flatter their talents as clever shoppers rather than emphasizing their “low budget” customer status. So these new low-cost products acquire other qualities (aesthetics, positioning, etc.) to empower the purchaser. At the same time, by playing on drivers other than low price (family packs, state-of-the-art design, suitability for daily consumption, for example), the new “cheap and smart” discounted products attract more wealthy customers who are also carefully watching their pennies.
Small daily luxuries
More attractive and personal products that provide services and benefits that justify their higher prices. The benefit-cost ratio prevails over the simple quality-price ratio that once fostered mid-range products, the creed of generic brands having long been “just as good but cheaper”. Today, the offer tends towards the extremes: at one end of the scale, discount pricing for basic products with no commitment from consumers and, at the other end, products whose expected benefits justify a relatively high price.
Yes I cook – I made it myself
Chefs are now a regular feature in the media landscape. But this phenomenon does not merely boil down to a celebrity culture. It drives a number of enthusiasts to cook with family and friends under the inspiration of these star chefs. Here, sharing is the order of the day so meals are prepared and tasted together. This strong tendency has several origins: boosting self-esteem through culinary creations, better nutritional control and cost efficiency with homemade products.
“Globalization has not had the effect on consumer products which many had expected, especially in terms of food. The Samsung Galaxy III and iPhone 4 are identical regardless of where in the world we buy them—same product, same packaging, same instructions, same marketing pitch. And the same goes for Toyota and Volkswagen, which sell just about the same cars to the Chinese as they do to the Finns. However, the same does not apply to food. In fact, when it comes to the things we eat and drink each day, the globalization phenomenon appears to have had quite the opposite effect. The more we exchange goods internationally, the more we travel, the more we come face-to-face with other cultures, the more new products we discover, the more we transform them and adapt them to our lifestyles, tastes and customs. Clearly, the world’s food is not about to become standardized, and as a consumer who is fascinated by innovation, I could not be happier. When it comes to foods that are identical whether we buy them in Tokyo, New York or Paris – think Coca-Cola, Big Mac’s and Mars bars – I am willing to wager that we’ll be able to keep counting them on one hand for some time to come. Nevertheless, they will continue to be the stuff of dreams for production managers worldwide…” said Xavier Terlet, president XTC World Innovation Europe..