Shifts in consumption patterns amid pandemic are “hard to ignore,” says Beneo
29 May 2020 --- Almost three quarters of consumers worldwide plan to eat and drink healthier as a result of the pandemic, according to Beneo. While taking into consideration the opportunity to tailor NPD amid shifting consumption patterns, the company is having to adapt various aspects of its business to a post-coronavirus reality. The ability to process new information arriving at short intervals and to derive concrete and targeted measures remains crucial throughout the pandemic, and after. FoodIngredientsFirst speaks to Andreas Herber, Executive Board Member at Beneo, on the company’s efforts during this testing time.
“[The shift in consumption patterns amid the pandemic] is a factor that will be hard to ignore when looking into new product development. However, this also means it’s not so much about new ideas – it’s about exploring ways to strengthen and improve existing solutions, such as natural and organic products, as well as those with functional or health benefits. Focusing NPD efforts on these qualities will help to enhance their appeal to a wider audience of consumers,” Herber details.
Beneo foculizes an increased consumer interest in topics such as immunity, staying fit, blood glucose control and sustained energy. “Alongside this, there is higher interest in science-based information, a trend which we believe is here to stay. As a science-driven provider of functional ingredients that promote health and well-being, the voices of scientists worldwide are being heard in the public arena, and this in the longer-term can only be of benefit to consumers and the food chain alike,” says Herber.
Adapting to COVID-19
Beneo employs an “open communication culture,” which enables quick exchanges about best practices across departmental boundaries and across different group companies. So far, Herber notes that the company has not seen any shortage affecting the procurement of raw materials. However, it has faced challenges around the planned maintenance and engineering works in some of its factories, he flags.
“Due to the fact that third party companies were not allowed on our premises at the beginning of the crisis, these planned works have understandably been delayed. However, following the authorities’ latest decisions to allow suppliers to the food chain to carry out necessary works, we have begun to catch up, although additional safety measures are still slowing this progress a little,” details Herber.
Chicory harvest in Chile
The harvesting of chicory roots in Chile is a significant element of Beneo's supply chain. The supplier’s harvest season began around the same time the country went into lockdown as a result of the pandemic. However, despite this challenge, Herber reports the company is in regular communication with its agronomy team in Chile to mitigate the impact of the pandemic.
“A particular challenge was to ensure social distance during the chicory harvest in Chile, not only on the field but also for workers commuting to and from work. This has meant a much higher number of vans and drivers needed and the harvesting times expanded to include early mornings and late nights,” explains Herber.
Herber notes that while a situation like the coronavirus pandemic is difficult to prepare for, having a standard contingency plan in place at each of Beneo’s production facilities has made it easier for the company to swiftly adapt to the crisis. “This ranged from stock and inventory management and how to keep the factory running with fewer people, to managing short falls in inbound and outbound logistics.”
Looking ahead, the pandemic will continue to spur on a rise in digital solutions, which Herber champions. “We are certain that the increase in virtual formats including live interactions for discussion forums, creation of videos or other ‘interactive journeys’ will lead to a lasting change in our working environment, even though personal contacts will continue to play an important role in the future. Haptic experiences like trying out product samples will remain an important factor of tradeshows in our industry,” he concludes.
By Benjamin Ferrer
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