What do you think will be the biggest emerging trends in wholesaling in 2022?

With the challenges the wholesale industry has faced over the last year, we expect to see some similar themes in wider wholesale trends emerging, not just for our business, but for the supply chain as a whole. The top four I would see as:

Employee engagement and development – are crucial for any wholesaler if they are to effectively recruit and retain the people who deliver service to customers

Technology, automation and innovation – we’ll see increased interest in solutions that enhance the customer experience, as well as operational planning and efficiency whether that’s routing, order to delivery processes or warehouse systems

ESG and sustainability – on the back of the COP26 conference in Glasgow businesses will be assessing their strategies as a whole and specifically, how they plan to deliver Net Zero, plastic and food waste targets. Menu agility- with supply tightening across the supply chain, HGV driver shortages, and increasing regulation and legislation to navigate, many wholesalers will be working closely with customers to help them manage the menus, costs, nutritionals and allergens.

Catherine Hinchcliff, Head of Corporate Marketing, Marketing & Insights at Bidfood.

Will wholesalers need to make better use of technology to survive?

Certainly, not only in driving operational efficiencies, enhancing customers’ digital journey, but also in keeping pace with changing fleet technology in order to make progress towards net zero.

Technology is also a crucial means of providing customers with access to vital nutritional, dietary and allergen data, enabling them to keep recipes up to date with ingredient replacement, and labelling generation that supports their compliance with Natasha’s Law. We have developed our own recipe and menu planning tool, MyRecipes, which is a new feature on our on-line shop, Bidfood Direct. Bidfood’s product information is live, and automatically updated which gives customers peace of mind that their recipes are up to date at all times.

Will consumers stay in more and will there consequently be more products aimed at in-home consumption?

We’re seeing continued buoyancy in the out of home sector, and there’s still evidence of that pent up demand fuelling consumer spending. We hope to see that continue to influence the market in 2022, although some of that will depend on what happens with VAT going forwards.

Of course we’ll see the sustained popularity of takeaway and delivery offers and formats, which have accelerated during the pandemic. Hospitality at home is certainly here to stay, total monthly delivery and takeaway sales has grown by 175.9% in August 2021, compared to August 2019*.

Our own research with CGA identified that 56% of consumers have ordered collection or delivery in the past 6 months, and 44% are ordering food for delivery more frequently. This is despite the resurgence in the eating out market, so the two can go hand in hand.

There is potential for further targeting of the in-home consumption market, and not all products work as well for home delivery, so I would expect that there is also opportunity for innovation too, particularly in areas like sustainable packaging.

*CGA and Slerp Hospitality at Home Tracker, August 2021.

Will healthy eating and wellness be even bigger trends in 2022?

Health and wellness has been an established trend for many years, but one that’s been growing in momentum, fuelled by the pandemic. It’s too prominent to ignore, and the key thing for operators is to understand the ways ‘healthy eating’ behaviours are manifesting in consumer choice out-of-home.

Our own research, run in conjunction with CGA, has flagged that 72% of consumers are proactively trying to lead a healthier lifestyle, and 24% would go elsewhere if there were no healthy options on a menu. We’ve identified three key sub-trends that are driving their choices right now, being Calorie Conscious, Drinking Healthily (meaning alcohol free and lower sugar or lower calorie choices) and Healthy Kicks (through products that offer added vitamins, mood or energy boosters).

 

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