Time For Change In The UK Food Supply Chain? Consumer Trends 2021

The novel outbreak of coronavirus piqued interest in supply chain operations, particularly in the food supply chain. In the aftermath of COVID-19, lockdowns around the world have not only limited the movement of people, but also their access to conventional food sources. This has sparked the hunt for alternatives, especially in urban centers. Farm retailers who survived the negative consequences of the pandemic had to adapt to technological systems and practices that allowed continued business to be carried out quickly. By integrating technology, becoming more sustainable, and practicing policies that keep consumers healthy, supply chains are staying modern and efficient.

Is It Time For Change In The Food Supply Chain?

Change in the food supply chain is not just a possibility; it is an inevitability. The shift towards local markets has been gradual over the past several years, but with Brexit on the horizon, a major change is about to happen. And here’s why:

Simply put, the process of online retail is going to change drastically over the next year. And while the specifics are still vague, experts forecast a significant decline in delivery speed as sellers, shipping agencies, and government workers struggle to understand how the new system works. With an increase in tariffs, changes in clearance protocols, and additional customs checks, none of the old rules will apply.

3 New buying patterns for UK consumers

This massive change to the ecommerce world may serve as a catalyst. But, the truth is that changes in the food supply chain are necessary because consumers’ buying patterns have changed. Recent surveys show that 55 percent of UK consumers today would rather buy locally.

And their reasons fall under three main categories.

1.      Local brands offer higher quality products

Big companies generally resort to artificial and preservative additives to mass-produce and sell food items to a broad market. As such, local products, especially organic ones are popular with buyers who want to avoid these potentially harmful chemicals.

The consensus is that locally sourced food tastes better and is healthier, and these are both big motivators for consumers.

2.      Buying locally is better for the environment

In the past decade, the focus on environmental protection has grown exponentially, to the point where today, it is actively influencing consumer’s spending habits. Research shows that people are aware that buying locally helps support small businesses and results in lesser carbon emissions. So they factor this into their purchasing.

With an increasing focus on eating healthy, shifting to plastic-free living and vegan products, markets are already changing marketing strategies to appeal to consumer sentiment. This is only likely to increase in the future.

3.      Supporting local brands helps the economy

The final reason why many people prefer buying locally sourced food items is because they correctly assume that it supports the economy.

In the UK, 38 percent of food retail and wholesale workers receive less than the living wage. This makes them one of the poorest demographics. And the only way to change this is by supporting local brands. The desire to help small businesses is a big motivator for many shoppers.

Why people don’t shop locally

Contrarily, the biggest reason why shoppers stated an aversion to buying locally was the unavailability of products. It is harder to find locally sourced alternatives for products and customers have to go out of their way to find them.

Additionally, customers don’t trust many of the venues where local food items are sold. Overall, customers found farmers’ markets and natural food markets the most trustworthy and big-box retailers and online grocers the least trustworthy.

With shifts in the food supply chain, the biggest struggle sellers will face is addressing this lack of credibility and building consumer trust.

Changes in the food supply chain are likely to eliminate this concern as merchants focus on stocking local alternatives. So when the Brexit readjustments hit the ecommerce markets, and prices for imported products rise, chances are it will only speed this shift. And as with all things, the supply chains will change to correspond to consumer demands.