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Digital technologies driving food industry growth

By Caroline Scott-Thomas , 22-Jun-2011

Digital technologies are creating major opportunities for the food industry, according to a new report from PricewaterhouseCooper (PwC) and the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA).

In their annual financial benchmarking report on the state of the consumer packaged goods (CPG) industry, “Thriving in a Connected World”, PwC and the GMA said that digital technologies were making international business more efficient and more effective by increasing mobility, giving employees instant access to information, and using digital devices to monitor global activity.

Compiling and analyzing data from 148 food, beverage and consumer products companies, the report also said that digital technologies have become a vital tool for the industry, as online shopping has become commonplace in the United States. A quarter of smartphone owners using them to shop during the 2010 holiday season – and consumers increasingly using social media to express their opinions of consumer products online.

 

GMA president and CEO Pamela Bailey said: “CPG companies of all sizes harnessed digital technologies in the past few years to become more productive and efficient. This study shows how food, beverage and consumer products manufacturers are leveraging innovation to optimize service to consumers and trading partners.”

 

Digitalizing emerging markets

 

The report added that there are particularly strong opportunities for food manufacturers to leverage digital technologies in emerging markets, in order to get a better idea of what consumers are looking for.

 

“Connecting with consumers on their own digital terms will allow companies to learn how these markets work,” the report said.

 

It gives the example of General Mills, which is developing its own voluntary database of households to interact with consumers in real time about their preferences. This will help both General Mills and retailers, the report said, as retailers can get a better idea of where their customers are coming from.

 

PwC’s North American advisory retail and consumer industry leader Lisa Feigen Dugal said that companies have made good progress in building their brands in emerging economies.

 

“CPG executives are guardedly optimistic, despite a fragile economy, high unemployment and volatile commodity prices,” she said. “Companies should aggressively take these risks into account in their planning processes to better position themselves to take advantage of growth prospects that await them at home and abroad.”

 

The full report is available to download here .

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