- The 2018 Speciality Market Report gives us taste of what's to come in 2019
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Compiling research results from 230 independent speciality food and drink businesses, the Speciality Market Report paints a picture of the speciality food scene. Such research can be invaluable for businesses looking to plan into the future, with findings about tendencies in the digital marketplace and the diversification of retailers.
Commissioned in early September at the Speciality & Fine Food Fair, one of the report’s primary findings indicates the budding growth of the UK online market. As always, Brexit plays into the shape of the industry, with fears of wholesale prices being driven up once the UK leaves the EU. 56% of independents think this will happen, which may end up driving up the prices of food and drink on the customer side of things. 32% of these businesses said they would pass the entire rise onto shoppers, and an additional 47% said they would pass at least a portion of it. Reactions to the impending exit vary, with 30% of respondents already seeking new UK sources of products while 50% said they had no immediate plans to change their business.
When it comes to changing and adapting business, the internet has proven successful. Online platforms have been shown to help sellers boost their profits, with 75% of respondents who took to e-commerce reporting higher volumes of sales and of new customer attraction. Over 50% of these reported sales rises of up to 9%, but the impact of online retail can be even greater. 15% indicated that sales had increased over 40% in the last year and a half since going online.
Positive figures notwithstanding, not all businesses have embraced the digital platform. 53% of independent retailers and caterers said they don’t sell online, with 35% of these stating they do not intend to make any move online. Whatever the reason for eschewing the virtual option, modern day shopping habits indicate that businesses that don’t follow the trend will miss out on a large customer pool. Going online is not, inherently, a rejection of the brick-and-mortar store. Here at Speciality Food, we’ve spoken to a few companies that provide for both online and offline platforms; they’ve said that, while the virtual option has bolstered sales, that is separate from their audience for brick-and-mortar stores and they cater to each accordingly.
There are other options for businesses to appeal to new customer groups than the internet. Diversification has proven a successful technique for modern businesses, with 68% of surveyed businesses saying they diversified with options such as opening an in-store café, offering free Wifi, and hosting tastings or talks by industry specialists. 36% of the diversified businesses have reported “significantly” increased sales.
Soraya Gadelrab, event director of Speciality & Fine Food Fair said, “While our research highlights areas where businesses could be capitalising more, it also paints a picture of how entrepreneurial our industry is. Owners are not content to sit back, but can see the enormous benefits of offering their customers experiences that are just not possible in a typical high-street retailer or coffee-shop. We believe the report offers revealing insights into the day-to-day workings of this multi-billion-pound market that we hope everyone will find useful to their own businesses, especially when it comes to planning for 2019 and beyond.”
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