Why innovation can address the cost-of-living crisis

Investing in innovation to feed our future

Dare I wheel out the line? Sorry, not sorry but there’s no other way to say it! We are genuinely in unprecedented times, the changes over the last 2 years have astonished me, Trump’s Presidency & less than graceful exit, Johnson for Prime Minister & his similarly less than edifying departure, global pandemics, Brexit, war in Europe, inflation, fuel crisis, food shortages, and according to the Bank of England the British economy is now in another recession, so you get the picture! A grim one I know!

So, is this the time to hunker down, retain the status quo? Not innovate?

I say a resounding & very loud “No!”

Today’s consumers more than ever have needs to be met, no more so than the immediate and fundamental one of feeding themselves cost effectively which is more important than it has been at any time since post war Britain

More people on the bread line, queues at the food banks, struggling to make ends meet. Food insecurity is now at its highest levels since the Food Foundation started recording this 10 years ago. The Food Foundation recorded a worrying 57% increase in people going hungry between January & April this year, with 7.3 million adults & 2.6 million children saying they had gone without food in April.  This saddens me beyond words.

Children will go ‘ill-clad and hungry’ this winter if the cost-of-living crisis not tackled, Gordon Brown has warned.

No wonder with annual energy bills for the average household hitting £2,500 from October which even at the newly capped amount is still double what the majority were paying this time last year.  In addition, UK inflation hit an eye watering 10.1% in August driven by spiralling food and fuel prices. This was only the fourth time in 70 years that inflation has gone North of 10%!

Spending power will be sucked out of the economy as millions of household’s struggle – and fail – to make ends meet. Asda’s Income Tracker reported a record 18% drop in average household disposable income of £175.80 a month, with a fifth of UK households now having an average shortfall of £60 a week between what they earn & what is required for essentials such as food, rent, the dreaded energy bills and transport. The courts will be clogged up with people prosecuted for falling behind with their payments as disposable income all but disappears for the majority.

According to the latest ONS report, which looks at a snapshot of public opinion between 6 and 17 July, a staggering 89% of UK adults have now reported a rise in their living costs. According to Citi financial services group it could get even worse with their prediction that the consumer prices index could breach 18% in the first quarter of 2023, while the retail prices index inflation rate would soar to 21%.

Jack Monroe, who welcomed Asda making good on its pledge to roll it’s Just Essentials range, added: “The onus on ensuring that people are able to feed themselves adequately and decently and nutritiously shouldn’t fall on the price point of pasta in a supermarket.

“It should be something that people don’t have to do – those macro calculations walking round the supermarket. It should be something that’s available to everyone regardless of their income

How can we innovate to help consumers in this time of crisis?

Consumers are already repeating behaviours of COVID lock down times. Increasing purchases of ige frozen, switching to private label, downsizing retailers, increasing in ambient purchasing.

How can we as an industry, do more to help?

Consumers need to see and believe you’re on their side. We need to be even more innovative to cut through these challenges.

The smart businesses will spend their energy (no pun intended) in this period better understanding their shoppers as humans with emotions. Meeting their needs at this of all toughest times. Helping them with their basic needs such as planning meals, reducing waste, scratch cooking, filling the oven. In addition, how to extend proteins, reducing takeaway purchases (A whopping 1/3 family food budgets go here), going meat free and cleverly utilising store cupboard ingredients.

We are duty bound in the food industry to help consumers; we offer the keys to the most precious commodity. Now is the time of all times to innovate for good.

If you want a hand in innovating for good, reach out to KICR

Don’t be shy