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Food brand innovators pivot in the face of Covid

12 October 2020
Food brand innovators pivot in the face of Covid

How have food brands navigated the changes wrought by the Covid-19 pandemic? Dave Behringer, CEO of Pilot Lite USA, hosted a panel of food execs at the recent FutureFoodTech conference to talk about shifting priorities and strategies. 

Miriam Ueberall from Kraft Heinz and Nigyar Makhmudova of Danone both noted that the Covid pandemic has caused an acceleration of health food offerings and plant-based foods, as well as increased demand for transparency and a return to trusted brands. But e-commerce was the clear frontrunner as the most disruptive and promising strategy for corporates looking to innovate in a post-Covid world.

'Covid Taught Consumer to Buy Food Online'

Stephanie Naegeli of the SV Group said in order to pivot from restaurants to home delivery, the company had to adopt a lean startup mode, rapidly building and testing a prototype. The company continues to build on its new delivery concept developed as a result of pandemic-related lockdowns. Naegeli said Covid taught consumers to buy food online—and now that those boundaries have been broken, there’s no going back.

Digitization Wins for B2C, B2B

Philipp Stradtmann of Boesch Boden Spies agreed digitization is the biggest gamechanger in the food industry today, providing even B2B providers the opportunity for direct conversation with consumers. Within a month, he said Boesch Boden Spies would be creating its own online shop due to growing demand for online food shopping.

The panel reported that digitization is also enhancing B2B relationships: The SV Group is building new ERP systems to integrate with suppliers through API. To be able to integrate and order digitally from suppliers is a big deal according to Naegeli.

Thanks to panelists Miriam Ueberall, Health of R&D International, The KraftHeinz Company; Stephanie Naegeli, Chief Strategic Business Development Officer, SV Group; Philipp Stradtmann, General Manager, Boesch Boden Spies; and Nigyar Makhmudova, EVP Growth and Innovation, Danone.