A substantial number of leading speakers from the international agri-food sector attended the CLAL Dairy Forum 2018 and presented the multiple facets of the new consumer to over 200 dairy operators.
The topic “Know your future Customer” was addressed in three sessions:
- Cope with new lifestyles and respond to new needs
- Promote respect and acceptance of Sustainability
- Adjust your offer to new purchasing models
The videos of the presentations and of the final roundtable are now available together with this article.
CLAL took this opportunity, just over a month after the event, to verify what the participants have retained of the 20 presentations made during the Forum. A strategic sample was chosen for our survey: young milk producers.
“The meeting was a very positive experience, especially because as dairy farmers we usually dedicate most of our time to other things,” says Manuel Boschini; “such meetings allow us to understand where the market is going and how the consumers’ needs and buying habits are changing. It is indeed useless to produce products for which the consumer does not see any added value that can justify the price.”
“It was interesting,” continues Barbara Greggio, “to see how different companies, coming from different countries, try to meet the demands of different markets and to overcome the new challenge of sustainability, through: the valorization of their strengths (e.g., grazing cows); the continuous search for new products (for example yoghurt that does not need to be refrigerated); marketing.”
The presentations of the second session focused on economic and environmental sustainability; the consumer’s perception towards sustainability was a transversal theme throughout most of the contributions. A multifaceted topic, as Luca Perletti points out: “I realized that sustainability has an impact on many areas, some of which are not very clear to the final consumer and sometimes neither to the various protagonists of our sector. There is a lot of talk about sustainability but the concept is difficult to explain. However, one thing is clear, sustainability is the future! Consumers are asking for it, big dairy companies are asking for it but above all the world in which we live is asking for it.”
Alex Fiorini adds: “in view of an increasingly attentive and demanding consumer we have to make sure of being ever more transparent and to be seen as a guarantee both in terms of sustainability and animal welfare.”
“I personally believe that it would make more sense to reward the attention paid by farmers to animal welfare rather than the fact of just keeping animals on pasture,” ponders Manuel Boschini, who adds: “it is in the interest of farmers to focus on animal welfare as this translates into better production, lower costs and less work.”
The various presentations showed that the consumers surveyed were very much in favour of sustainable products, however all the speakers made a clear warning: when buying, most consumers are unwilling or unable to spend more for more sustainable products. Said differently: it will be very difficult to charge sustainability on the consumer’s bill.
“It is an added value that is difficult to price,” says Luca Perletti; “everyone wants a more sustainable world but only a few are willing to pay for it; in a way, this will not reward companies that work in this direction but it will indeed probably eliminate from the market those not willing do it.”
The topic that raised more interest in the audience was certainly e-commerce, especially the lectures made on behalf of the Chinese giants JD.com and Alibaba.
Here is Davide Lorenzi’s opinion: “the new online dairy purchasing platforms allow us to better understand the tastes and needs of our consumers; this for example enables us to create products that can last many days without the need for controlled temperatures, products that remain unaltered until their final consumption (the yoghurt that was presented in one of the lectures is a beautiful example of this). This gives us the opportunity to expand the boundaries of the dairy market.”
The final roundtable on new consumption modalities included representatives of e-commerce, large-scale distribution, discount stores and some Italian entrepreneurs of the dairy sector. Alex Fiorini followed the debate with interest: “I found the exchange of views between the representatives of large entrepreneurial groups extremely interesting; for us young farmers such experiences can be inspiring.”
These were some of the ideas brought home by the young entrepreneurs who attended the CLAL Dairy Forum 2018. Let us conclude with the words of Alfredo Lucchini: “the Forum was for me an injection of optimism; it opened my eyes and allowed me to see how markets that are sometimes very different from ours are in fact developing new products and are trying to innovate, while still maintaining milk producers at the heart of the production chain.”