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Food and Drink

Karen Green

Karen Green is a business mentor, speaker and author of the best-selling book “Recipe for Success – the Ingredients of a Profitable food business”. She has a wealth of commercial experience, having worked both as a buyer for UK grocery retailers and commercial director for various food manufacturing businesses from turkeys to sushi! In fact, when she spoke at our Food Business Breakfast back in 2015, she was in place at the UK's largest sushi manufacturer! She now runs Food Mentor, specialising in providing business mentoring, consultancy and training with food and beverage brands. She is a passionate foodie living in the south of France renowned for its fabulous food and wine!  

One business success

  • The biggest business highlight for Food Mentor business has been the move to delivering online courses – we launched Pitch Perfect – a 4-6 module sales course that was designed to help food start-ups learn how to sell to the retailers.  We sold out for both cohorts and also had a good take-up of our “Preparing to sell to Ocado course”

Two challenges for the sector

  • My business relies on revenue from both mentoring start-ups but also working with larger food businesses on a consultancy basis. Many companies are reducing their expenditure to essentials only and so will have less in their budget for important areas such as soft skills training and consultancy work even though both are very useful investments for growth
  • The second challenge is the same for all of us - knowing what the new food and drink retail space will look like once we begin to return to the new normal. Understanding where and how customers buy their food going forward will impact how to best advise my client's route to market strategies. I cannot rely on my vast experience in the food industry because shopping habits are likely to have changed irrevocably overlayered by the potential economic downturn.

Three forecasts for the sector

  • There will be a change in the way people work and many will not return to the drudgery of commuting so I predict the food to go category will struggle to bounce back.  Chains such as Pret a Mange, Starbucks and Costa are likely to be hard hit alongside supermarket food-to-go offers.  
  • Food service will be hard hit as people will be likely to have less discretionary income and possibly a reluctance initially to go to restaurants, travel and generally mix in large groups. High-end and mid-price restaurants are likely to be hardest hit.  People will be less likely to travel and have less cash to spend at airports so the travel outlets will really struggle initially
  • Direct-to-consumer will continue to grow for many categories as people have developed new habits and subscription services could be a real thing of the future.  Food delivery service is also likely to continue to thrive with Deliveroo, Just Eat and others continuing to flourish.

May 2020