Suppliers and food producers moved closer together

The end product and the consumer will be in the centre of all steps of modern food production. That was one of the conclusions when 160 attendances shared their knowledge in Middelfart. 

If you want to survive in the future of food production, you have to optimise on various parameters. This is also the case in the collaboration with suppliers of equipment, ingredients, and other services in the production, that compliment and harmonise with the strategy of the company. And if it is possible to share knowledge with related food industries, then you also often avoid reinventing the wheel.

This was the starting point for the conference Food Processing for the Future, which gathered 160 suppliers and food producers on 16 January at Hotel Milling in Middelfart.

After hearing a great part of the presentations of the day, it is my impression that all parts of the food chain increasingly think more about the costumer and the end product as a whole. There can be no weak links that does not live up to the consumers’ expectations on green, safe, and healthy foods. That is why the dialogue between suppliers and food producers is so important”, says Esben Laulund.

And there was plenty of time for dialogue and increased networks in the solid breaks at the conference in which it was also possible to experience the 33 stands with different companies.

Understanding the consumers’ values

In the end, all food production is about satisfied consumers. Therefore, it is crucial to know and understand the values and preferences of the consumers and ensure understandable communication.

That is how Klaus Grunert, professor and manager of the MAPP Centre at Aarhus University, summarised the first speech of the day. Here, he estimated the consumers’ expectations to the food industry together with how the industry may find new values.

When it comes to the consumers’ choice of food and the benefits that comes with them, Grunert operates with five categories: functional, hedonic (pleasure), aesthetic, emotional, and social benefits. These are connected in complex structures.

The consumers decide on their purchase of foods from a trade-off between these different benefits. Therefore, an insight in the consumers’ knowledge and values is crucial to food producers, in order for them to optimise the communication about their food products”, the professor explained. This highly involves the way that the product is produced.

New consumer values challenge the food producers

The trend amongst Western consumers does not point in a direction with more meat in the everyday life. Because of this, the meat manufacturers are one part of the food industry that follows the changes of the consumers’ values closely. That was what Lars Feldskou, Group CPO in Danish Crown, said on behave of the 6,830 cooperative shareholders in the meat company. He went through a lot of trends that both address the Danish home market and the large global market. Looking at Denmark, he presented four main trends: conscious/critical consumers, a wish for local production, convenience, and flexitarianism.

The critical consumer is highly occupied with sustainable conditions. 85 percent of consumers are for instance interested in decreasing food waste, and 74 percent are worried about the accumulation of plastic in nature. And when it comes to animal welfare, 40 percent says that it is important to them when they pick their pork”, Lars Feldshou said, who also pointed out that local production matches the best with the critical consumer’s values. When it comes to the wish of flexitarianism, which concerns more plant-based products, Danish Crown also tries to address these values both in terms of mixed products and pure plant-based minced meat substitution.

Fortunately, there are other markets that will continue to grow and are very happy about Danish pork”, said Lars Feldskou.

What did you think about the conference?

Pictures from the conference