13-17 FEBRUARY 2022


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Taming The Black Swan Webisode 2: Finding the Silver Lining

Taming The Black Swan Webisode 2: Finding the Silver Lining



Gulfood, the world’s largest annual food and beverage expo went live once again and broadcasted to the global F&B community its trailblazing web series on Wednesday, May 13th 2020.

The second webinar, Taming The Black Swan: Finding The Silver Lining, shed a beacon towards the future and took an in-depth look towards what the next normal will look like for consumers, manufacturers and retailers in the Food and Beverage industry.

The webinar welcomed two key players from the world of insights and foresights, Tony Hunter, Global Futurist, Speaker and Foresight Strategy Consultant, Future Cubed, Australia and Anoop Sardeshpande, Executive Director Consumer Insights, Nielsen, Arabian Peninsula & Pakistan. The discussion was focused on seeking answers to whether there is a silver lining to this cloud that has been hanging over our heads since COVID-19 was declared a global pandemic.

Moderated by the charismatic Dr. Kantha Shelke, global voice on food science and senior lecturer at Johns Hopkins University, USA, the future-forward session kicked off with a welcome message by Mr. Mark Napier, Group Portfolio Director, Exhibitions Department at Dubai World Trade Centre.



Anoop Sardeshpande
Executive Director Consumer Insights, Nielsen, Arabian Peninsula & Pakistan

A two-time recipient of Nielsen’s President Award for his work in the area of customer experience measurement & process improvement.


Tony Hunter

Tony Hunter
Global Futurist, Speaker and Foresight Strategy Consultant, FutureMind Foresight, Australia

Using a hybrid of his FutureCUBED™ methodology and current events in F&B and agri industries, Tony provides insight to the future of food security and how businesses can use foresight strategy to predict the long term Future of Food.



Kantha Shelke (USA)
Ph.D., CFS, Senior Lecturer, Johns Hopkins University and Principal, Corvus Blue LLC, USA

A senior lecturer in Food Safety Regulations at the Johns Hopkins University Master of Science Program in Food Safety Regulations, Kantha is an author, editor and assertive voice on food science. She also, runs the eminent Chicago-based science and research firm.

Key conclusions:

► Consumer behaviors have shifted as the pandemic progressed, following 6 key stages that corresponded with common COVID-19 event markers

► A distinctive impact on food category purchases was seen globally, and more significantly in UAE and KSA, where growth in FMCG purchases ranged from 13-14% respectively

► The end of the pandemic period in the world is perceived to be significantly longer than in GCC

► Consumer consumption changes in the future; Accelerated technology adoption will underpin the consumption dynamics

► Income compression will alter consumer spending, impelling consumers to alter household budgets and allocating more spend toward basic living

► Product needs alter consumers’ sensitivity to prices, requiring reassessment of pricing mechanisms

► Surge in preference for local products is expected post COVID-19, with impact of product origin on purchase decision among GCC consumers (Post COVID) expected to have a high impact among 56% of population

► Online shopping and anything to do with digital transformation will accelerate more post COVID-19 and businesses will need to put plans and strategies in place to digitally transform their organizations to keep up

► Hygiene and sanitation will weigh heavy on consumers’ minds and they would need to be assured that their food is produced under strict hygienic conditions

► Some segments in the food industry may never come back to how they were before the pandemic like restaurants. With issues such as social distancing and extra protection precaution, along with in-home cooking and dinning, we might no longer see packed restaurants anymore

► Food supply chains will need to adapt rapidly to the new normal that has come at a fast pace. The change has happened very rapidly in the start and in the end the change can happen again just as rapidly

► Flexibility and agility in food supply chains is essential. In the GCC, where food supply chains are fairly long, they would need to manage those very carefully and AI will be a big help in doing just that – enabling companies to react very rapidly to cope with the change

► Automation will be the way forward to reassure people that their food is handled with less human contamination and manufacturers won’t have to worry about employees being stuck by a virus

► The conventional animal agricultural industry has shown itself vey inflexible and labor intensive hence will need to change to continue to produce the amount of food we do at the moment

► This will not be the last pandemic and another one will come. Hence countries will need to improve their food security very dramatically over the next decade. This will come down to new technology like cultivated meat, aglio bioeconomies and all the technologies that are not subject to arable land and fresh water

For Consumers

Constrained choices irrespective of income, where consumers will need to prioritise what is most important to them. Finances and values will dictate consumer behaviour, for example survival vs. priorities. A new home haven normal will emerge and consumers are forecasted to reinvent things like family time; home cooking; personal interests/hobbies.

There will be implications on social mindedness as well. Since COVID-19, a sense of social cohesiveness and co-operation has been emphasised and created a community of “something bigger” which will lead to sentiments such as “for the good of the community.” This in turn has indications that there could be collaboration between governments and companies to tackle bigger issues (e.g. climate change, income inequality) moving forward – The silver lining of COVID.

For Manufacturers

This group will have a clearer understanding of what matters the most to consumers. Hence, issues like health and hygiene, portfolio price tiers, local origins and supply security will be monitored with a critical magnifying glass. This is why transparency will become a prominent factor in building trust with consumers. From supply chains to production and from communication to block chain, transparency across these facets will create a feeling of reassurance and trust with both consumers and employees alike.

Immersive experiences will be more important than ever before, technology adaptations such as augmented reality, virtual reality, live streaming, online platforms social media, cross industry tech collaborations showcase how to bring brands directly into consumers’ homes.

For Retailers

Retailers will take large leaps in rebuilding confidence in-stores in terms of hygiene, the fullness and variety of products on shelves with priority given to local brands. In addition to leveraging loyalty programs to maintain priority relationships with customers. As for online, retailors will need to secure trust with full ranges available on their websites and available delivery slots online.

This will lead retailers to rethink the entire retail experience and reconsider the role of store and retail footprint – move to showrooming (minimum stock) and direct delivery to home; pop up shops within to improve experience and create a home of innovation. In addition to re-imagining the online experience with augmented reality shopping trips and live customer service chat bots online.

Stay tuned for more information about our online events. We look forward to seeing you live, 3-5 November at our co-located shows - GulfHost, Gulfood Manufacturing, The Speciality Food Festival, yummex Middle East and Private Label Licensing Middle East.

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