Kerry c.e.o.: Embrace the shift in consumer trends

by Eric Schroeder
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Stan McCarthy, c.e.o. of Kerry Group P.L.C., said consumers are seeking value, freshness and experience, and they are looking for trusted ingredients on the label.

TRALEE, IRELAND — Food companies need to embrace the shift in consumer consumption and shopping trends, Stan McCarthy, chief executive officer of Kerry Group P.L.C., said during an Aug. 6 conference call to discuss first-half financial results. That means incorporating preferences from a demographic perspective, understanding the way pace of life affects food decision making and paying more attention to what’s actually in food, he said.

“In the past, the tradition was the weekly shopping — the once a week weekly shopping list, looking for the lowest price and looking for bulk items and multipacks if you will, and shopping for solutions,” Mr. McCarthy explained. “And we basically accepted brands from a traditional perspective whether we experienced them at a very early age, and accepted them for what they were. And we accepted the messaging that was on the brand or on the package for what it was.

“But that has changed. (Consumers are) shopping for immediate satisfaction — 25% of all meals consumed are purchased on the same day.”

He said consumers are seeking value, freshness and experience, and they are looking for trusted ingredients on the label.

“They’re no longer just looking at the front of the pack,” he said. “They’re looking at the back of the pack where the nutritional statement exits and ingredients statements exist.”

The mindset extends to food service, where Mr. McCarthy said consumers are paying even more attention to what they eat. He said people are looking for more fresh products and for customization.

“People want food prepared to their own preference, and restaurants have to be able to facilitate that,” he said.

Mr. McCarthy said Kerry is addressing these trends by being a leader in taste and technology. He said the company has a strong depth of nutrition capability and will look to expand on that.

“For Kerry, in terms of our taste and nutritional offering, it goes across all life stages depending on the need from infant and toddler, children and adolescents, early adulthood, healthy aging population, as well as seniors,” he explained. “And for us, it is to have those technical ingredients that we see inside in our functional ingredients category … to be able to take those and apply them into systems that go into beverages or foods depending on the age and the profile of the consumer or the market that we’re pursuing. We would see ourselves as being very strong and having great capability across all these markets.”

He said he believes the company has the capability to go across many spectrums, from low- or no-fat to gluten-free to reduced sugar or salt.

“Kerry Foods’ business is fortunate in that it is unique in terms of being attached to a company with a huge amount of technology, and that is something that we’re able to leverage more and more now into our branded offerings,” he said. “And we continue to emphasize our growing internal presence around kid snacking in particular, and that will continue to develop.

“So I believe that we’re focused and well positioned to the changing marketplace. I believe our business is very well aligned to the trends and to be able to remain on trend. Taste, nutrition and wellness platforms are serving us very, very well for retail and the food service dynamics that are taking place.”

Operating profit at Kerry Group in the first half of fiscal 2015 ended June 30 was €308.6 million ($336.7 million), up 19% from €260 million in the same period a year ago. Revenue increased 5% to €3,028.1 million ($3,303.9 million) from €2,893.5 million.  
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