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Gearing Up For The Post Covid-19 World

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As part of our new series, ‘Marketers Playbook for 2020 Post Covid-19′, Saumya Tyagi, Director Marketing – Tetra Pak South Asia highlights the role packaging will play in helping brands establish the right imagery, expressing the uniqueness of its contents and emphasizing the differentiators.

To say that we are living in unprecedented circumstances would be to belabor what has already been said enough. Unprecedented is the new normal. Social distancing is now a way of life and the after-effects of Covid-19 will transform the industry goes without saying. The food and beverage industry, equally impacted, is no exception and expects to be radically transformed by the pandemic going forward. Throughout the pandemic and into the lockdown, the F&B industry found itself on the front foot and at the front lines of a war, working extra hard to meet consumer demand amid a fragmented and disrupted supply-chain. It is no longer just about creating healthy eating and drinking options – it’s now also ensuring that the manufacturing, packaging and delivery process is also “healthy” and contamination-free, right till the point of consumption. In India, keeping the food supply chain stable and employees’ safe is going to be a major focus area going forward.

In the past few years, a massive technological transformation is quietly taking shape in the Food & Beverage industry and is likely to have lasting consequences for consumers and industry alike. Although the concept of Industry 4.0 and factory of the future is by no means a new one, it is time for the food and beverage industry to fully realize its benefits to adapt to the changed scenario. The underlying theme of this technological transformation will revolve around creating business models and supply chains that will survive in a ‘less-contact’ ecosystem. Factory automation is where this begins but, in a post Covid-19 world, that will simply not be enough.

Food & Beverage companies will have to explore technological advancements like automation, remote monitoring, use of robotics and QR code to enhance visibility and transparency into their supply chain. The industry is in a period where the market is changing at high speed. From automation to contactless sales, amidst the rising food safety concerns, to safe online purchasing and offline food delivery involving ‘zero-contact’, the F&B industry seems to be exploring various options.

Consumption patterns and buying behavior will also change, driven by major shifts in food safety standards & regulations and innovative technologies that will revolutionize the way food is manufactured and distributed. Consumer demands coupled with regulations around sanitation and safety will require new ways of manufacturing that is much more efficient, cost-effective and meet future (and more stringent) food-safety guidelines.

Products with both sustainability and health benefits will drive greater appeal as people move from careless to responsible consumption. Innovations are already started in this space with brands being totally transparent of the content, packaging and the way it is produced and shipped. E-grocery and home delivery options will gain relevance as consumers who never considered these solutions before, such as elderly, will try and adapt them for the first time.

Need for Authenticity, Individuality and Sustainability through tapping into local credentials and culture will increase. We already see brands leveraging flavors and categories that are intrinsic to our culture – sugarcane juice, chhaach, aam panna and more. At the same time they are experimenting with the concept of combining foreign ingredients with local – to see how willing consumers are to experiment when using new flavours with familiar ones. Packaging will have an important role to play in helping brands establish the right imagery, expressing the uniqueness of its contents, and that emphasizes the differentiators.

Packaging of foods and beverages will also need to change and adapt. How can food and drinks stay healthier and nutritious longer? Increased consciousness about climate impact will propel consumer towards packaging solutions that are more environmentally sound. Can new materials be incorporated that are not only environmentally sustainable but also less contamination prone? Questions such as these will command more space in the general discourse. Design sensibilities will evolve too. Consumers will need additional reassurance from their favorite brands and packaging is where this can reflect. Opportunities for smart packaging solutions built around Dynamic QR codes that allow each package to be tracked, monitored and interacted with throughout the supply chain, will create new opportunities for efficient stock management, distribution and automation can become mainstream.

Finally, storage and delivery options will need to be re-looked. Brands can no longer leave this to the retailers – they will need to have a say as well so that the product is delivered safely to the consumer – whether it’s picked from a shopping aisle or delivered to their doorsteps. And do this with minimum or limited human contact. Can all this be done? Absolutely. Businesses in the sector who understand and act on this new normal are the ones likely to grow and succeed.


About the author / 

Saumya Tyagi

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