3 Things We’ve Learnt About Food Manufacturing | The Sterling Choice
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Three things we’ve learnt about the food manufacturing industry during COVID19

Well 2020 has proved to be quite the ….. – we will leave it up to you to finish that sentence, but the team here has a few choice words, you can get in contact to hear them if you so wish. 

The COVID19 pandemic has turned the food manufacturing industry on its head, with consumers stockpiling long-life products just like the doomsday preppers we all previously raised our eyebrows at. In all seriousness, the food manufacturing industry has thrown its weight behind the effort to keep the nations supermarkets stocked with the items required to get us through this epidemic safely, and we couldn’t be prouder of all those across the supply chain. 

We’ve pulled together some stand out points that have caught our attention so far. 

 

Consumer habits changed IMMEDIATELY  

Anyone else feel like they are eating their way through lockdown? We might be saving money by staying at home, but it seems that we are just re-routing the savings to the food shop.  

Almost instantly we saw the convenience sector stop selling. People are thinking further ahead, instead reaching for products with a long-shelf life.  

The changes in habits can be observed over several weeks, dating back to late February. In the week of 22nd February items such as fresh meat substitutes, ambient soup and baking sundries rose by 54%, 35% and 35% respectively. The second week of March saw a rise in medicine, bath and shower, long life milk, pasta and canned meat. 

And of course, this is when toilet roll gate began.  

Data from Nielsen shows that by the end of March sales of ambient foods had risen by around 22%, frozen food 13%, household and pet items 31%, impulse purchases 7% while total spending has increased by around 8%. 

This trend has continued across the world with firms such as Kraft Heinz, Mondelez and General Mills all reporting sales growth of 10-20% over the last 30 days for packaged foods and meat. Neilsen data has shown that in the US, in-demand products include comfort food like popcorn, crisps, alongside staple items potatoes and milk. 

 

We are drinking our way through lockdown 

If the absolute madness, and sometimes, sadness of this situation isn’t enough to have you reaching for a stiff drink, then home schooling will. 

And according to the data, it has. According to Alcohol Change, 21% of respondents admitted to drinking more frequently in lockdown, while 15% also admitted to drinking a higher alcoholic volume than they would usually consume.  

The growth in sales of alcohol in UK supermarkets were higher than sales of pasta or rice while online wine retailers Naked Wines announced that they had seen a surge in online orders, with 2020 sales expected to beat forecasts and exceed £200m. 

Over in the US, Nielsen data shows that alcohol sales increased by 55% year-on-year in the third week of March. The previous week saw a sales uplift of 28% compared to the previous year.  

Could this be a trend that continues throughout lockdown? 

In our experience – probably yes.  

 

Those migrant workers that ‘stole our jobs’ – stepped in to support UK farming industry 

Remember the cries of ‘British jobs for British workers’? Well the jobs are here!  

From picking and packing jobs to those within our supermarkets, there has been a huge uplift in the number of vacancies across the food manufacturing supply chain.  

The UK farming industry embarked on a campaign to recruit British workers (for British jobs) for picking fruit and vegetable to keep up with national demand, but it failed to attract the interest of those looking for work.  

It was reported that 35,000 responded to the advertisement of positions, around 50% of whom had lost their jobs due to the impact of the COVID19 pandemic, only 5,500 (16%) decided to go ahead with interviews for the vacancies – leaving the sector in crisis.  

Then entered the Romanians, flown in on specially chartered flights. The truth is that without these EU workers, British farms would be at risk of losing their summer crops because they would have the workforce to harvest it. With the help of the workers that have flown in, British farmers have a chance of saving their produce and meeting the demands of the nation when it comes to fresh fruit and vegetables.  

We will closely monitor how the industry and consumer habits continue to play out. In the meantime, we hope you all stay safe and if you are looking for a position in the food manufacturing or FMCG industry we are still recruiting for permanent, interim and contractor roles. You can speak to a member of the team here.  

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