A Special Visit from the Doctor – A focus on Asia for Australian Food Manufacturers

Last week Wiley had the pleasure of hosting Professor David Hughes (AKA Dr Food), an internationally acclaimed expert and speaker on global food industry developments. Professor Hughes spent the day with Wiley and few of our friends (including clients, project partners, suppliers and other food industry players).

Professor Hughes joined us for a special presentation over breakfast to share his insights about what the Australian Food industry could focus on to appeal to global markets, particularly Asia. This was followed by an exclusive lunch session where several food industry leaders had the opportunity to discuss thoughts and ideas specific to their business directly with ‘The Doctor’.

Wiley creates and host these events (and many like them) to discuss, debate and share insights from leaders in the food the industry. The objective is to review industry trends from multiple perspectives using real world examples and share knowledge for the benefit of the entire food industry.

As his website explains, Professor Hughes “travels the world, speaking to senior agribusiness and food industry managers about global food industry developments that are and will affect their businesses and industry”. Professor Hughes is energetic, engaging, humorous and most importantly insightful in his knowledge of global food industry trends and how those trends might impact the food industry.

With approximately forty food industry personnel in attendance at the breakfast seminar, Dr Food presented on Australian Food in Asian markets. This was followed by a series of questions and overwhelmingly positive feedback on ‘Dr Food’s’ presentation from the highly-engaged audience.

Dr Food was then the special guest at an exclusive lunch event hosted by Wiley for a round table discussion on the issues important to our local Food clients. Here’s a photo of that lunch event and we wish we could share more about this but we can’t!

John Hart, Dr Food, Tom Wiley, Richard Gorman, Brandon Miller and Brett Wiskar after the exclusive lunch in front of the visual facilitation that came from the round table discussion.


Grocery Retail Market Landscape

While the Australian grocery retail market is dominated by two major grocery retailers (representing approx. 75%), the Asian grocery retail markets are a stark contrast to the more fragmented retail sector. For example, the top ten grocery retailers in China, combined only account for 8% of the total market in that country.

E-commerce is big business in Asia and the grocery market is playing its part. E-commerce has taken traction in many markets globally with China taking the lead in online market share at 8.5% (% of all grocery sales, 2016). The UK and France come in next then Singapore and Japan are also in the top 10.

Online consumption of fresh produce is also on the rise in China. Fruit now accounts for 11% of online grocery spend, trailing dry goods by only 1%. Seafood, meat, poultry and dairy all have strong opportunities for online purchasing.

Dr Food illustrated that while there are many trends that sit across both Asian and Australian markets, there are many anomalies. In Asia, chicken on the bone is preferred to cuts such as chicken breast and this reflects in the price. In some markets chicken wings are considered the premium cut and are more expensive than breast meat. The demand for chicken breast meat is so low in some markets that it is exported to Europe and added to cat food products.

Another example of a contrasting trend is the huge interest in pastries and artisan breads in Asia. Where wheat consumption has declined in the U.K. by 10% in the last seven years it is the opposite in Asia. Ancient grains are on increase in Australia. But in Asia they’re eating more wheat creating a great opportunity for those in baking.

The scale and importance of some product lines in many Asian markets can provide even further contrast to what we might be accustomed to in western markets. For example, in Wumart Hangzhou, there are 32 linear meters of eggs across 4 shelves (128 meters in total) in a high-profile location. Consider how that might be different to your local grocery retailer.

Dr Food entertained the crowd with his explanation of the differences between how much protein is consumed in Australia compared to in Asia. “I don’t know how you all have the time to be here! We should all be gnawing on carcasses to get through our per capita consumption of meat!’

Dr Food also touched on what the future might hold in global retailing circles. He mentioned an article he has recently written about Amazon and what their next move like look like. For more on this, you can visit his website and read that article here: What if ……… Amazon Bought Sainsbury’s?!

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