Uncertainties arising from globalisation, changing consumer behaviour and growing environmental and health concerns pose ongoing challenges for leaders in the food and drink sector.
Food and drink may be the largest manufacturing sector in the UK, but it operates in a continually shifting commercial landscape where cultural, social and demographic changes generate a wide variety of strategic leadership issues. However, from establishing sustainable growth and building consumer confidence to introducing new technology and tackling the obesity epidemic, every leadership challenge also presents a commercial opportunity.
The breaking down of trade barriers and the growth of emerging economies has given rise to an increase in potential customers, but it has also exposed once sheltered businesses to ruthless global competition.
Understanding these new markets is vital for success. For example, expanding into a globalised marketplace involves managing longer supply chains and the subsequent threats to food safety, ranging from inconsistent quality to bioterrorism. Small-time producers of specialist goods targeting a niche market, on the other hand, can benefit hugely from the economies of scale that are possible when manufacturing for a global market.
Successfully forecasting the changing tastes and activities of consumers has always been key to staying afloat in the food and drink industry. Our shopping habits, for example, have changed dramatically in the last few years. A decade ago, most people preferred to get their weekly shop from just one of the big supermarkets. Now, shrewd customers are visiting a number of different outlets in order to secure the right products at the best price.
People are still buying food and drink – they are just buying it in a different way than they did before. Most of the big retailers were slow to recognise this shift in behaviour and are now having to play catch up to stay in the game.
As well as shifting behaviour, leaders in the food and drink industry need to maintain an awareness of customers’ shifting priorities. Increasingly, it is not just price that is the decisive factor in a purchase, it is also the journey of the product to the shelf.
Biodiversity, the livelihood of the producer, energy efficiency, waste and water management are just some of the many aspects of sustainability that are playing an increasingly important role in the food sector. As well as taking steps to implement sustainability measures, industry leaders need to convey to customers how their products are part of a process that is addressing these serious issues.
Knowing how to tackle ongoing challenges such as these is something we at Parity Professionals excel at. We work with individuals, teams and organisations across the food and drink industry to boost personal and organisational performance. So call now to get a taste of Parity Professionals’ food and drink leadership programmes