Food and the Future, where will we buy and how?

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Food and the Future, where will we buy and how?

Everyone is wondering about the future of food, supermarkets and large food distributors. And still no one has a precise and convincing idea, will we ever have one?

I'll tell you mine.

Food will always be food, and we will always eat with cutlery or chopsticks or hands, depending on what continent you live on. In America, Africa and the Middle East they eat with their hands, in Asia with chopsticks and in Europe with cutlery. But where and how will we buy the food we eat? And above all, where will it be produced and how?

There are strong and interesting trends to analyze, at local, continental and global level, which can help us to draw a scenario, sum and evolution of several possible scenarios for the future. Technologies, regulations, social trends and cultural traditions. Mixing these different components well we can make hypotheses and start focusing on models and solutions that will become affordable and standard for the entire Food Grocery market but also Horeca.

Online shopping gallops, the recurring shopping list, heavy and packaged products is now an indispensable service in big cities. And now in Quarantine a favorite choice from the vast majority in the evening, the alternative are queues kilometers to supermarkets, or ready-made food deliveries.

Home deliveries are increasingly efficient and convenient, from large supermarkets to startups delivering from the farmer to the consumer, to ready-made meals in restaurants delivered by fleets of drivers. But they are still individual, and often replicated, solutions.

Storage warehouses and packaging technologies have increased the shelf life of products, thinking that the direction is more and more assortment on the shelves, but the shelves as we think them will disappear completely, it is a weak trend and still not well understood by the market and distribution, warehouses will be increasingly away from the consumer and the shelves instead more and more in their hands, in smartphones, at metro stops ... or wherever there is a screen. You can shop from anywhere and at any time.

But now let's face the crux of the matter ... the fresh, the bulk, the counter products, everything that is not packaged by the producer, but that is served at the counter Salumeria, Fish, Meat or in the section Fruit and Vegetables. What will happen to these departments? Where does the consumer's choice and willingness to choose between one piece and another affect their visit to the point of sale?

The best solution to date is Hybrid retail, between virtual and home delivery, and physical in-store, where you buy ready, fresh and impulse purchases, easily packed and delivered to your door when you prefer, or at your local hub point.

So if you read these trends well, they are all good news for the large-scale retail trade (ex. Amazon Vs Walmart), but also for the small retailers who disappeared in the last 20 years, where Supermarkets have swallowed up the market of delicatessens, butchers and grocery stores, for reasons of scale and large spaces. Today, fortunately, thanks to new technologies, useful to select new Manufacturers and new Products, manage inventory and logistics, and reach consumers and customers, and available at low cost, the project to reopen a local Taste Shop, is proving to be a successful trend especially in medium/large cities.

Hybrid retail in Food & Beverages will be increasingly evolving, formats and Shop models will be launched and proposed. "Stores where the experience will no longer be to wander through labyrinths covered with products already packaged, to fill cages with wheels and then repack everything in uncomfortable bags to find the least ridiculous way to get home loaded like mules". The Stores will be open, multi-activity and multi-experience places, spaces that will change use depending on the time of day and scheduled events. Yes, because they will be spaces of experience and events, as well as shopping and administration, good food links culture, art, wellness and man/nature.

Some Italian Tech Company to watch out:
- Trusty: blockchain for food traceability
- Fresco Frigo: new "delivery/pick-up" smart tech solution
- Fleep: the future of smart labels
- Elaisian: monitoring tech on field
- SoulK: high tech solution for high level Kitchens
- Vrainers: VR/AR and AI for customer care, e-learning and device interactions

We at WOOP have a clear format, ready to integrate the best technologies and the best sales and digitisation techniques to be able to open and launch the Bottega del Futuro, obviously Made in Italy (just to start with) in small spaces, with zero stock and high customisation, self checkout and online payments, like a diffused supermarket?

The magic words are "healthy, fresh and near me".


by Alessandro Corti
CEO - WOOP Lab   & Food All Lab Ltd

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