The economy, and other big food industry trends

1/31/2011

Three key trends will have a big impact on the food and grocery industries in Canada over the next few years, but shadowing all of them right is an economy stubbornly stuck in neutral.

That’s according to Sebastian Distefano, national industry leader of food, beverage and consumer products at KPMG, in an interview available as a podcast on CanadianGrocer.com

“The economic recovery is taking longer than expected. As the Canadian government focuses on fiscal consolidation this year, after a wave of stimulus spending and tax breaks implemented earlier in the recession, unemployment rates may rise and growth will be challenged,” he said in the interview.

Distefano also cited high consumer debt loads as another factor that could impede a recovery.

But Distefano sees several trends gaining strength, no matter which way the economy rolls. First is the popularity of healthier foods, largely driven by aging baby boomers.

Another is ethnic shoppers. More than 70% of Canada’s population growth now comes from immigration. “So food and beverage companies need to understand what these new Canadians want, and be innovative in their product offering to capture that market,” he says.

Sustainability is the third trend. Major food manufacturers and retailers are going green, Distefano says. But it’s also consumers forcing change by demanding more environmentally friendly packaging and socially conscious products.

Listen to the entire podcast here.

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