Allegrini 2018

Homemade, digital, safe, sustainable; the “new” food of Italians. Which counts as much as home

Word of the Coop 2020 Report. Despite the recession, food has regained its central role. Pedroni: “we expect to close the year at +1% in turnover”
Italians and the relationship with food, before, during and after Covid

Home and food: these are the constants of the Italians also in the “postcovid”, which, as they still recognize in the home the comfort zone that reassures, where you feed (41% expect to reduce spending next year in restaurants) and have fun, food spending do not give up, even in the generalized contraction of purchases, with only 31% who say they want to buy consumer products packaged cheaper (compared to a European average of 37%, and 50% recorded in 2019), and even when the emergency is over (18%). It is certain that Covid has had the effect of a time machine on the lifestyles of the Italians, including renunciations for the GDP per capita returned to the levels of the mid-1990s, spending on travel dragged back to the seventies, consumption out of home back three decades, and, thanks to the lockdown, an escape from the stove that has stopped, with Italians who have put their hands back in the dough and with the cook@home that continues to explain the strong growth in sales of basic ingredients (+28.5% on an annual basis, but also +111% of food processors, and with young people who are the most enthusiastic also thanks to the advice of the web) against the contraction of ready meals (-2.2%). And 30% will spend even more time preparing food and 33% will experiment more. 1 out of 3 will do it to “eat healthy things”, but there is also a 16% that considers it a way to shelter from contagions, and, above all, a strategy to not give up quality and do family spending review, but with the “food” item that remains protected. Here is the picture of the Coop 2020 Report of the Ancc-Coop (National Association of Consumer Cooperatives) Studies Office, on consumption and lifestyles of Italians today and tomorrow, in time of Covid and in front of the biggest recession since the Second World War, in which, however, food has regained centrality.
Also thanks to smart working (+770% in a year) and to the impulse of digital services (with an estimated growth of this market segment of about 3 billion between 2020 and 2021), we do not move too far from home, and all travel becomes short-range, we go shopping less by preferring neighborhood stores (15 minutes is the calculated time of use of the city and then the stores) and we also shorten the food chain, because for 1 Italian out of 2 the Italianity and origin from its territory acquire even more importance. The e-grocery also continues to grow (+132%), but with +25% of the price of the online shopping cart compared to the physical one (March-June 2020) which is a deterrent. A shopping cart that remains sustainable, from an environmental but also social point of view (20% buy more from companies that operate in respect of workers) and green (+27% since before Covid), and, in the strange summer in large-scale distribution - in which the lack of foreign tourism was felt and much - with fewer drinks, ice cream, fruits and vegetables, for the less warm and less conviviality, and the revenge of the packaged food considered safer (+2.3%), with more quality that, not going out of the house, we treat ourselves at home, with the gourmet who regains strength (+16.9%), and that also means a good bottle of wine, bubbles on top, but always paying attention to those who offer the best offer.
“We certainly did not get richer, the sales figures for March (with peaks of +20%) were subsequently reduced, as is natural - explains Marco Pedroni, president of Coop Italia - in June and July then the performance of large retailers were negative, while in August there was a hold. For safety and support to families we have made additional investments of over 100 million in recent months. As Coop, we expect to close the year with a slight improvement in turnover estimated at +1% and therefore a value of over 13 billion euros in the retail part alone”.
Among the shock of the pandemic that has revolutionized our lives and waiting for the Recovery Fund to materialize from Europe (on the altar of Covid 12.500 billion dollars of world GDP have evaporated in a year, with a contraction of GDP per capita 2020 for Italy by -9.5%, according to the latest forecasts, and that only in 2023, for the most pessimistic in 2025, will return to pre-pandemic levels), although comforted by the social shock absorbers put in place by the Government, according to the Coop 2020 Report - carried out with the scientific collaboration of Nomisma, the analysis support of Nielsen and the original contributions of Gfk, Gs1-Osservatorio Immagino, Iri Information Resources, Mediobanca Ufficio Studi, Npd, Crif eTetra Pak Italia, and with two surveys called “Italia 2021 il Next Normal degli italiani” conducted in August on a sample of 2. 000 Italians over 18 and the community of opinion leaders and market makers of italiani.coop - Italians remain the most pessimistic in Europe, recording the largest deterioration of their living conditions in 2019. However, despite the latest forecasts confirm a recovery in 2021 of only half of the jobs that we will lose in 2020, “only” 5% of households so far belonging to the middle class expect to slide into the lower classes, compared to 12% of the 2008 crisis. On the other hand, 38% think they will have to face serious economic problems in 2021 and among these, 60% fear that they will have to cut their savings or be forced to ask for economic help from the government, friends/relatives and banks. The most fragile classes, young people and women, are the ones who will have to pay for it, while 17% of Italians expect their economic conditions to improve in 2021 (mainly upper class men). But in 2021 it could be possible to lose even 30,000 births and give up marriages, transfers, house purchases and the opening of new activities, and with the economic inequalities that increasingly travel hand in hand with mental and social discomfort. But the middle class of our country shows an extraordinary resilience and between savings, postponements and renunciations seems to equip itself to withstand the impact of the crisis.
The final result net of retrocessions and advances is the feeling of living suspended in a bubble. Forced into lockdown but still widespread today and even tomorrow. It is the digital bubble that creates closed and self-referential clusters, the bubble of emotional life that is self-delimiting (while generating satisfaction), the movements that become short-range and the comfort zone of the house that reassures. At home rather than elsewhere you feed (41% expect to reduce spending next year in restaurants), have fun (44% the share of those who in 2021 will reduce spending for various entertainment outside the home), meet friends and family (or at home or their home).
In the bubble the food supply chain is also shortened and for one Italian out of two, the Italianness and the origin from his territory acquire even more importance than they had in the precovid period where they already enjoyed wide popularity. And again for safety reasons, in the summer just passed, we have witnessed real revenge for packaged food that is growing at a rate more than double that of the entire food sector if compared to a year ago: +2.3% against +0.5% (June-mid August 2020). Protective and wrapping packaging seems in this case to make the difference in all sectors: fruit and vegetables and even cold cuts and dairy products. While looking at the trolleys always in the summer regains strength the gourmet (+16.9%), the ethnic (+15.4%) and vegan (+6.9%).
After the lockdown boom there is no sign of a decrease in the efood rush either. Alongside pure ecommerce, however, Italians seem to want to choose mixed solutions: the click&collect for example goes from 7.2% of online sales in 2019 to 15.6% in the phase following the pandemic. And there are also those who ( 42%) consider important the advice of the shopkeeper/counter attendant to prove that the key word seems to be more and more multi-channel. A deterrent is the high price of online: +25% compared to the physical shopping cart (March-June 2020). A price gap decreased compared to 2019 when it stood at +35%, but still such that digital spending is a widespread habit among families with high average incomes: the share of egrocery buyers goes from 39% of the popular classes to 53% of the upper class. And it will still be the latter to drive demand in the near future (43% declares it).
And among the constants that Covid has not swept away, the attention paid by Italians to sustainability issues strongly resurfaces. If it is true that for 35% of managers interviewed in the survey “Italy 2021, the Next Normal of Italians” the development of the green economy is one of the trends that will positively characterize the post-Covid, this sort of national green consciousness translates into related purchases. In the international comparison there is no race. The 27% of the inhabitants of Italy buy sustainable/ecofriendly products more than before the Covid (the French and Spanish follow spaced with 18% in percentage); 21%, in this case paired with the Spanish, has increased purchases in stores that promote sustainable products (against 17% of Americans and 15% of Germans) and 20% buy more from companies that operate in respect of workers. Worthy of consideration also that 1,700,000 Italians who will experience green purchasing for the first time when the emergency is over.
“There is no doubt that Covid has changed the behavior of Italians as the Report tells us - underlines Maura Latini, manager of Coop Italia - we are comforted to find in these changes the confirmations on trends already identified by Coop and on which we are positioning ourselves strongly, also distinguishing ourselves from our competitors. The green sensibility of Italians, first of all, on which we are investing a lot and that we have seen reconfirmed also during and after the lockdown in our internal data. Our organic brand Vivi Verde is the first organic brand sold in the large-scale retail trade in Italy with more than 150 million sales in 2019 and has not stopped growing during and after the lockdown with a value trend of +9%. I want to remember the commitment we made with our partners and consumers both by blocking the prices of our products until the end of September and by offering 10 of our products at the price of 10 euros (“Operation Force 10”). This operation was also very appreciated: the 10 references in 3 months recorded sales of 9.5 million euro, with double the quantity compared to last year, with peaks of growth of +300% or more. We will continue to work in these directions both on the offer and on strengthening the range with advanced and innovative Coop products in terms of quality and sustainability, affordable and accessible to the weaker sections of society. But we will also rethink our points of sale following the logic of the new needs shown by the Italians: here the challenge is not to offer an extra service and maintain the status quo of the traditional offer, on the contrary it is to get back into the game”.
“Coop is proudly part of that agri-food chain that has been able to react positively to the Covid crisis and thanks to the commitment of our colleagues in the point of sale has provided a basic service to the community - adds Pedroni - we are in a phase in which consumption is reduced due to the economic difficulties of many families, but also because of the concern about the future, so much so that we record strong growth in savings. Food is at the center of the attention of families, but also in our sector there is the propensity to have a lighter trolley. We are concerned about social polarization due to the injustice that is growing and its effects on consumption also highlighted in the Report. The risk that the pandemic will push for simplified and less sustainable solutions is real, even in the consumption of some families. We confirm our strategy that aims at good and sustainable products that are accessible to all, not only to those who are better off. In this phase, uncertainty about the future and new hopes are mixed; the recovery of domestic demand and consumption is fundamental, exports are not enough. We believe that the institutions and the Government, also driven by EU resources, should be the protagonists of an extraordinary recovery plan. A plan that favors private and public investments to modernize the country, that derates the work, that supports the “green” change. As far as we are concerned, we believe that taxation and support for green production and consumption would be important. Instead of plastic-tax which is a mistake, we zero VAT on those who use recycled plastic or those who adopt low emission solutions”.

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