Shifting consumer demand patterns, Brexit planning and availability of labour were likely to be among the food industry’s most significant challenges in the coming months, according to the latest insights from the group.
Seasonal peaks are fast approaching and uncertainty remains over what will happen once the transition period following Brexit ends at the end of this year. As a result, concerns were raised by members of the group about how these challenges could effectively managed, with capacity already stretched thin due to the coronavirus.
In response, retailers have requested that suppliers share more data in a bid to create more transparent supply chains, facilitating innovation and gaining a clearer picture of areas that may need improvement.
John Perry, managing director at Scala, said: “Suppliers should accept that the pre-COVID-19 world has gone forever and expectations will now be based around demand in the ‘new normal’.
“Looking specifically to the months ahead, a major question is how suppliers will effectively manage the seasonal challenges of summer, Halloween and Christmas given ongoing industry uncertainty. We must also consider the ever-looming spectre of Brexit – preparation for which was already virtually impossible – how will businesses be able to adequately prepare when capacity is already so stretched?”
Scala’s latest insight also highlighted a shift in customer patterns for home deliveries, with peak delivery days shifting from Wednesday–Friday to Monday–Wednesday.
Scala’s COVID-19 working group was formed at the end of March in a bid to strengthen manufacturers’ and suppliers’ links with retailers, foodservice and logistics companies. More than 30 companies have pledged their support, including members of the food and drink industry.
All members are invited to collaborate and membership is completely free to all organisations that wish to join.
Meanwhile, the coronavirus pandemic led take-home grocery sales to grow at their fastest rate since records began in 1994, with the Co-op leading the charge, according to figures from market analyst Kantar.