Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Artisan food industry ignoring ecommerce at own peril, finds report

A new report into the UK’s artisan food and drink industry reveals valuable insights into the speciality sector to inform speciality food and drink outlets’ business plans for 2019.

One of the key highlights from the report – The 2018 Speciality Market Report – which was commissioned by and launched at Speciality & Fine Food Fair earlier this month, shows that operators could be missing out on double-digit sales growth from the burgeoning UK e-commerce market.

More than half (53%) of independent retailers and caterers don’t currently sell online, with 35% of those claiming they have no intention of making a shift to digital trade.

For some, this entrenched view could be a big mistake: 75% of those who have embraced an online platform say it has boosted sales and attracted new customers, with 15% of those claiming sales have increased by more than 40% in the past 18 months and more than half reporting sales rises of up to 9%.

The findings are part of wide-ranging research on UK speciality and artisan businesses that offers a snapshot of a thriving industry, what makes it tick, where the lion’s share of profits come from and how it is growing and diversifying. It also touches the pressure points such as sustainability and Brexit.

The report also takes a closer look at how businesses are diversifying to grow sales and customers. 68% of those surveyed have diversified, with 36% saying sales had increased “significantly”.

Typical examples of businesses expanding beyond their core were installation of free Wi-Fi, offering hot beverages or café facilities or regularly hosting events to name but a few.

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.”

When it comes to the thornier issue of Brexit the report found that 56% of independents believe exiting the EU will drive up wholesale prices and 47% are prepared to pass at least some of that rise on to their shoppers and 32% said they would pass the entire rise.

Despite what could be turbulent times ahead, 50% are making no immediate changes to their business and waiting to see how the UK’s planned departure from the EU pans out, while 30% are already sourcing more products from the UK.

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