E-commerce in the F&B industry is booming with recent research forecasting it to reach USD71.62 billion by 2028, registering a compound annual growth rate of 17.8 per cent. The steep upward trajectory is driven by several key factors, including sweeping consumer shifts towards online shopping for groceries, ready-to-eat food deliveries and healthy produce.
These trends have led to an urgent need for the industry to dig deeper into its e-commerce offerings to level up the ecosystem. Yet, while the segment provides a plethora of opportunities and huge business potential, there remains inevitable growing pains and more work needs to be done to ensure success for all links in the fast-moving digital chain – it is not simply a case of tying up with aggregators or launching a proprietary online delivery service.
Trends, trials, and solutions to truly unlock the e-commerce potential will be explored in great depth for the first time at Gulfood 2022, the 27th edition of world’s largest annual F&B sourcing event, which runs from 13 -17 February at Dubai World Trade Centre (DWTC).
Big brand leaders, food technologists, policymakers, industry heads and start-up pioneers will convene in Dubai to unpack the industry and set the future agenda, with the all new Gulfood Inspire conference featuring dedicated sessions on e-commerce led by some of the sector’s leading innovators, while a focused networking programme will ensure the F&B sector can realise its digital capability.
“E-commerce in F&B is experiencing a meteoric rise thanks to a number of key factors. In this region specifically, it is flourishing thanks to increased high-income potential, high internet penetration, developed logistics network, modern digital payment systems, a growing tech-savvy youth population, and strong government support. As the F&B industry’s undisputed transformative powerbroker, Gulfood will connect and create the future course of the digital marketplace, with crucial insights from producers and aggregators,” explained Trixie LohMirmand, Executive Vice President, Exhibitions & Events, DWTC.
“It will be a coming together of an industry in need of addressing ecosystem challenges and opportunities, which if surmounted can be a huge engine of growth and transformation. What consumers are looking for from the food and beverage industry is very different from just a few years ago, and these new expectations are here to stay beyond 2022,” explained LohMirmand. “Gulfood will focus industry-wide debate on the trends and new value-chain networks that will shape the future.”
A New Direction for Distributors
Consumers today are spoilt for choice online, with everything you could possibly want available somewhere for a competitive price, added to the ease of it being delivered to your door. The online marketplace is fast, convenient and without boundaries and it is changing how consumers shop for the foreseeable.
It is a fast pace that distributors have had to learn to adapt to, and keep up with, to remain ahead of the game.
Bhushant Gandhi, Department Head – FMCG, Truebell said: “At Truebell, our e-commerce journey started in 2017 and rapidly took shape in 2019, with the pandemic fast tracking all our business plans. E-commerce requires a different approach and thought process in comparison to tradition retail and foodservice. We feel we quickly adapted to this with specialized staff to manage this business.
“In 2019, we diversified our business with an overarching strategy for systematic distribution via all relevant E-Commerce channels, including online marketplaces, third party eRetailers and direct sales. Today, Truebell fulfilment centre provides over 8,000 SKUs in various categories across Food, Health, Home and Personal Care. And continues to expand.”
The rise of e-commerce in F&B is a win-win for all, according to homegrown regional online marketplace Noon, which will be among the of high-calibre industry pioneers providing invaluable insight across the five-day Gulfood.
“Noon Grocery is dedicated to assisting brands and local retailers in growing their businesses using our tools. With a large customer database, we can provide brands with prominent visibility in the digital space as well as quick fulfillment across the UAE and major cities in KSA and Egypt,” explained Yesu Yarlagadda, Noon’s Vice President – Grocery.
Yarlagadda will share Noon’s vision and future plans on the Gulfood Inspire stage in a session titled ‘Digital Differentiation – Building and Promoting your Digital Shelf-Space.’
More Room for Retailers
UAE-based supermarket chain Choithrams has been at the heart of the UAE’s rise in e-commerce with its digital platforms providing efficient service for consumers alongside its bricks and mortar offerings to meet demand.
“Online retailers will continue to grow its share over the years. Retailers are well placed to offer omni channel solutions to consumers to best adapt to their changing needs. Gulfood is a great opportunity to network with suppliers, manufacturers and retailers, and identify new retail and distribution opportunities understand opportunities for introducing new technology, new categories, and products into the UAE market,” said Rajiv Warrier, CEO – GCC, Choithrams.
E-Commerce in Focus
The dedicated e-commerce sessions at the Gulfood Inspire will be presented in collaboration with the Dubai Chamber of Commerce. Amongst the noteworthy speakers taking to the stage over the five days include: Wassim Makarem, VP of Q-Commerce, Talabat; Arun Kumar Krishnan, COO, Fresh to Home; Kirti Meghnani, Head-Procurement, Choithrams; Nikola Cabarkapa, VP of Brand Partnerships & MFC, InstaShop; Benjamin Mouflard, Co-Founder, ChatFood; and representatives from Dubai Restaurants Group, Locale, KRUSH Brands, Opaala, Timbl, Qlub, Eat App, Tradeling, Eighty6 , Liftoff UAE and Euromonitor.
Gulfood 2022 will be held under stringent safety and hygiene protocols. DWTC has proved its capability to curate the safest face-to-face business environment and deliver world-class events with the highest safety protocols.