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Coca-Cola Amatil boss’ top three consumer needs

Alison Watkins, Coca Cola Amatil“I want it fresher, I want it healthier and I want it now.”

This is the demand from consumers today, according to Coca-Cola Amatil boss, Alison Watkins.

The soft drinks leader was speaking at La Trobe University on Wednesday to celebrate the achievements of Sir Andrew Fairley and the Fairley Foundation in rural Australia.

Watkins spoke positively about rural Australia, and its “continued vibrancy and contribution to local and global markets.” She also offered some optimistic views on the nature of Australian consumers and how the food and beverage industry can best meet their needs.

She identified three main priorities for customers:

1. Fresh

“Our expectations of how we shop and what is available when we shop has changed. Increasingly the long weekly or fortnightly shop for most households has gone and has been replaced by the nightly, just-in-time purchase of that evenings ingredients for dinner. And what we expect to find there, night after night, is the same – high quality, fresh food.

Even with processed foods, consumers want a more ‘natural’ processed option such as fermented products, and cold brew tea and coffee,” Watkins said.

She referenced the Nielsen Global Health and Wellness Survey in 2015, in which 30,000 participants in 60 countries revealed that the most desirable modern food attributes were freshness, naturalness and minimal processing.

She said that while food safety remains an issue, it is not just associated with preserving and processing anymore, the public often associate processing with lower food safety compared with “fresh” alternatives.”

2. Healthy

Watkins explained that insights from market research show that good health is a consideration for 62 per cent of people when they are grocery shopping.

“As the population ages and grows in their health awareness, this demand for healthier options will increase. We have definitely heard the message from consumers on the need for a focus on sugar and wellbeing.”

She explained that the company often finds themselves “myth-busting” when the “good health” debate gets out of control.

“I’m reminded of a recent current affairs program which featured claims that sugar consumption was akin to smoking –part of a campaign in support of soft drink taxes as a “quick fix” to obesity. It made a catchy news piece, but it was wildly inaccurate. There is simply no comparison between sugar and tobacco. Tobacco in and of itself is harmful – in any quantity. Our beverages are not. They can be enjoyed as part of a balanced, active and healthy lifestyle which includes a sensible diet, proper hydration and some physical activity,” she said.

She added that the argument for a soft drinks tax is a little misleading as just two per cent of the average Australian’s kilojoule intake comes from soft drinks. This proportion is falling. In 2017, the Australian Bureau of Statistics found that consumption of added sugar has declined since 1995.

3. Now

Watkins acknowledged that the biggest sectors for on-demand include market places, transportation, food deliveries, home services and beauty with on-demand apps permeating more and more categories.

She referenced a survey by McKinsey which found that almost a quarter of consumers were willing to pay a premium for same-day delivery.

Since 2015 the sales of smaller packs sizes of beverages has grown by more than 100 per cent. She said that drink consumption has become about “immediate personal satisfaction”.

“Together the consumer demand for ‘I want it fresher, I want it healthier and I want it now'” has had and will continue to have a transformative impact on the operations of Australian manufacturing. The demand for innovation, the highest quality of product, different types of ingredients, improved methods of packaging and faster supply of the ideal product will continue. Australian manufacturers must to strive maintain this pace of change.”

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