Every country in the world we visit, “local” products catch both the eye and the purse of shoppers – in uncertain times, consumers feel comfortable with products thy have long known and trusted. Buying local supports the local economy, it’s perceived as being “greener”, fresher and we understand and value the story wrapped around provenance. Should the big global brands shudder? Well, no: the 22 $billion+ PepsiCo global snack and drink brands have double the profitability of lower volume brands; and the “Big Boys” still own and profit significantly from iconic national brands (e.g. Unilever with Colman’s mustard and Heinz with HP sauce in the UK). Consumers accept that some countries have a tradition and expertise in producing certain products – oranges from Spain and lamb from New Zealand in their season, and salmon from the Norwegian fjords. However, global suppliers run the risk of falling into the commodity trap where their products are seen as homogenous, undifferentiated and good for everyday eating but not for that special occasion. The “foodie” in us looks for great taste and great story when the meal is for fun and not just for fuel. We are wiling to pay more for more when the occasion is a little special!
Global suppliers can avoid the commodity trap by emphasising their world class production credentials, consistency of supply and quality, long history in export markets, and with their own unique food traditions and stories (e.g. Danish bacon in the UK). Carrefour in Belgium exhorts its customers to become “Belgetariens”. This might be good for Belgium apple growers, but, we bet Interbrew is pleased that Stella Artois is enjoyed in Belgium and in 80 other countries around the globe!