2020 lessons and what's next!
A key take-away for me this year is that flexibility and adaptability are essential for a business to overcome challenges of this scale.
Unismack's unique business setup meant this is of the utmost importance. Manufacturing in Greece, an international management team along with an international clientele and supply chain have meant that we needed to adapt both the way we work and the way we interact with all our suppliers and clients to make sure that we cater for any swings in demand, logistic interruptions and/or supplier issues, without risking our Just in Time production capability. Most importantly, the challenge of operational flexibility is only a second priority to our responsibility to the health and well-being of our people.
So what have we learned…??
This Pandemic has been instrumental in making people understand that where possible, working remotely does not mean being unproductive... sometimes the opposite in fact. Having said that, it has also clearly shown us the limits of remote work. How many hours can you really spend in front of a screen on another Zoom call..?
There is no reason to rush and declare the office and workplace dead. Instead for me this is a good opportunity to rethink the flexibility we allow our personnel and rethink our workplaces as a place of interaction, collaboration and creativity.
All those elements that I have sorely missed when I have to spend too much time with a screen in front of me.
Consumer Habits/Snack Market
I keep reading many of the big brands and manufacturers talking about an increase in their volumes during the pandemic and how consumers have shifted their habits to snack more and snack at home. What they don't seem to convey is the shift has been mostly to the negative. It has led people to experience more stress and snack more with unhealthy snacks full of sugar and/or trans fats.
A number of dynamics have led to this.
a. Less promotions and demos of new products, the life-blood of young challenger brands bringing innovation to the Retail space
b. No more trade shows for new brands to come together with buyers/retailers
c. Retailers have struggled to manage the pandemic supply chain challenges and as such have limited meetings for Range reviews
d. Smaller brands have many times failed to secure their supply chain to cope with demand shifts and have found themselves out of business
It was revealing to learn from a Snack Food Association ex-President (organisers of Fancy Food Show in the US) that a staggering 35-40% of small brands (below €3m) that were their members went bankrupt.
This situation is not necessarily great news for the consumer as it can lead to less innovation and ultimately less choice. Essentially helping the big brand names to dominate the retail shelf space - which is where consumers often return in difficult times.
The silver lining is that the main trend of healthier, 'better for you' eating remains strong - and is getting stronger. As we look to the future, my belief is that people will demand more healthier snacking options, they will be much more aware and want to understand if an option is actually healthier or just ‘pretends' to be so.