Game Changers vs Game!

Game Changers vs Game!
Published: 9 January 2020

For anyone unaware of the James Cameron documentary ‘Game Changers’, the show explores the success of plant diet-based athletes, and the positive impacts for non-athletes. There is no getting away from it; Vegan is a dominant theme in the UK market. So much so, that a 5th of NPD is now coming from this sector. UK vegan launches have doubled during the past two years, rising from 9% of all NPD in April 2017, to 18% of all food launches in April 2019, according to new research by Mintel. Mike Thornhill, a Consultant in Berwick Partners’ Consumer team discusses the changes hitting the consumer market.

As a society we are much more focused on reducing our carbon foot print and becoming more sustainable. Our attitudes to food have changed. More and more people are becoming intrigued by the term ‘flexitarian’ and it is hard not to be tempted to try some of the SKUs on offer when they come to the market with good meat alternatives. Research released by AT Kearney, suggested just 40% of the meat sector would be made up of traditional meat products by 2040.

The Rise of ‘Game’

Considering the rise of vegan options, retailers and meat providers know they have to evolve. Some are complementing their meat range with meat free products, whilst others are gaining traction with Game meats. Waitrose sales have increased to 36% for pheasant, 43% for partridge and 12% for pigeon. Tesco and Morrisons are increasing their game meat availability by partnering with Highland Game. And why not? Game is a healthier and with appropriate stewardship is a more sustainable meat source. 

Regardless of the bias within ‘Games Changers’ in support of a ‘vegan-based’ diet, it positively encourages people to question their choices and, perhaps, think a little more ‘green’. Since watching the documentary, Greggs' Chief Executive, Roger Whiteside, switched to a vegan diet, with Greggs announcing they are seeking to add vegan alternatives to their range of products.

The Landscape

The consumer landscape is changing. Both meat or meat-free consumers are looking for healthier and more sustainable options. Traditional meat providers need take stock. There are many positives with consumers wanting new meats and new cuts and are willing to pay higher prices for better quality products.

For companies to drive this forward, there will be a greater emphasis on human capabilities in Procurement, Supply Chain, Insights and NPD & Marketing. The talent embedded within these organisations need to have adapted to the new conditions or if they haven’t then companies need to be identifying new talent from market leaders and disruptors. The market place is challenging,  customers have more power and more channels to buy from. If a company gets their listings, positioning or supply chain wrong it could have major impact to the business and possibly be delisted from a retailer.

So, what does this mean for ‘talent’? I believe we will see a stronger emphasis in attracting senior talent in Marketing (Cat Man, Branding & Innovation). Firms seeking previously ‘plug and play’ candidates from the traditional meat category will struggle to compete with the meat free alternatives for much longer. We will see a pull of candidates coming in from sports nutrition, baby food and health being areas of the FMCG sector.  Certainly, some of the best products and campaigns are coming from the Meat Free sector, it is crucial they standout, resonate with a consumer and products have compelling narratives. As they don’t have the marketing budgets of large FMCG firms, the campaign has to start and end on the food aisle. 

With any company aiming to maintain, grow or revive, appointing senior leadership is paramount to success. Maintaining growth requires strategic thinking and planning. At Berwick Partners, we specialise in assisting companies who need key senior leadership as they grow and transform. For more information on the evolution of leadership talent, please do get in touch with Mike Thornhill, Consultant in the Consumer Practice.

Sources (Grocer UK)

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