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Thursday 30 June 2022

AgriFood Week: Brands set for ‘front of the (smart) fridge’ battle

5th May 2021 By Bridget O'Connell | | @foodtickernz

Forget supermarket shelves, the front of the kitchen fridge is set to be the future battleground for food brands, according to futurist Melissa Clark-Reynolds.

Speaking by video link at the Beef + Lamb New Zealand annual conference in Palmerston North during AgriFood Week, Clark-Reynolds painted a picture of how digital transformation and integration would disrupt traditional sales channels.

She pointed to developments in the US where farming giant Land O’Lakes – the biggest butter company in the country – has teamed up with Amazon to short circuit the traditional route to the consumer.

Melissa Clark-Reynolds

Its integration into Amazon’s instant order capability for smart appliances means that when a fridge, for example, detects there is no butter left it automatically adds it to the shopping list – but it is brand specific, placing an order for Land O’Lakes butter.

“When asking about the future of the internet, I think the next bit of real estate that brands will all be chasing is right here on the front of the fridge,” she said.

Clark-Reynolds, who was the first independent director of Beef + Lamb NZ and is a director of lamb company Atkins Ranch, also forecast the evolution of a recent partnership between New Zealand dairy co-op Fonterra and Land O’Lakes.

“What we have seen is that Fonterra for a long time has been supplying butter into the US but the biggest selling and most important brand of butter in the US is Land O’Lakes.

“About six months ago Fonterra formed a partnership with Land O’Lakes, so what I would expect to see is that promo codes and promotions coming asking will you switch to a different brand, ‘will you try some Fonterra butter’.”

She said the opportunity was also important in terms of branded meat, and what effect it might have on brands trying to enter the market.

“The Amazon shopping cart just keeps buying the same brand – it doesn’t say ‘oh you’re out of lamb here is another lamb rack’, what it will do is go here is another Atkins Ranch lamb rack, ‘I’ll order you another’.

“We’ll end up with tighter brand integration into Amazon and what we will also see is that it will make it harder for people to break out and try new products.”

Clark-Reynolds said bundling was another trend to watch.

An example of this was her favourite butcher in the UK who also sold her the herbs to cook her meat with and the wine that she would drink while cooking – and then eating – her meal.

“This is what I mean by bundling – they are not thinking ‘we are in the meat industry’, they are thinking we are in the food industry, we are in the meal industry.”



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