Can ‘grown in store’ inspire retailers to get their mojo back?

Laurence Cox
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Many retailers are facing disruption and in need of a shakeup. In the UK, footfall has been falling in recent years, each month of 2017 so far has had falls of up to 3% compared to 2016. In contrast, UK per capita e-commerce spending is the highest in the world, just behind the US and Germany. Retailers need new solutions to get their mojo back. Consumers need an engaging retail experience to get them back in greater numbers and away from the convenience of their screen.


Is there a shift away from food as a commodity to food as a service, with retailers as service providers?


The food sector has experienced the effects of consumer’s need desire for convenience. New service-orientated models from the likes of Hello Fresh are providing the meal ideas, recipes and ingredients. The enjoyment of cooking is the focus. In tandem, local food is becoming more popular as some farms forge direct links to consumers. Services such as Farmdrop are offering seasonal, local food to your doorstep. Local food is not always more sustainable, however, in many cases it is and retailers should take notice.


Are we at a point when consumers want to be re-connected with their food?


Bringing production closer to the consumer is being taken further with vertical farming. These methods, which are suited to urban environments where space is limited, grow food in stacked layers. By creating ideal conditions certain produce can be grown with vastly less water, space and much closer to consumers. Of course, this system works better for herbs than root vegetables but it’s an exciting step for the industry. These new growing structures, powered by LED lights are popping up in abandoned tube tunnels and old factories in cities across the globe.


Are retailers ready to change the shop-floor space and digitize their offer?


Placing in-store, on-demand food growing installations shakes up the retail space, brings the consumer face to face with their food as it grows, offers true transparency and is flexible to local demands. This is already happening. INFARM’s vertical micro-farms are in some German stores and they have teamed up with EDEKA, Germany’s largest supermarket. For those consumers with limited time and craving convenience, a food as service offer will be essential for retailers. Imagine retailers releasing a personalized app with a rotation of meals delivered weekly, advice from nutritionists, feedback on your preferences and family budget management.