With FWD’s conference only a day away, some of the sector’s most-respected names discuss the industry trends you need to be aware of

Darryl Burgess, Head of Sales, Weetabix

“The way people are shopping is changing and we’ll see investment to meet shopper needs, for example catering for on-the-go occasions and tapping into consumer demands, such as protein. Consumers are increasingly looking for a healthy breakfast and this will continue in 2018, with more focus on the amount of sugar. Weetabix Original has always been a low-sugar cereal and we want to work even closer with wholesalers on a range that is available in the correct formats aligned to what customers want.”

Belle Nairac, Head of Sales, Bolt Learning

“In a fiercely competitive future, it will be the wholesalers with the best teams that win. An organisation’s ability to learn and translate that learning into action rapidly, has the ultimate advantage. To aid that, we’ve created a cutting-edge global platform that allows learning to take place in bite-sized portions on any platform or device at any time. Whether it’s compliance or skills development, we have the solution to develop your teams.”

Matt Goddard, Wholesale Trading Director, PepsiCo

“We’re increasingly seeing shoppers opt for better-for-you options or those with additional benefits. We anticipate this trend growing further and urge wholesalers to champion better-for-you options in depot and online. We’re also encouraging wholesalers to evaluate how they’re merchandising big brands, such as Walkers, as their retail customers will be looking to stock these household brands and locate them easily.”

Damian McLoughlin, Premier Foods

“The eating-out market has seen growth for almost a decade due to factors such as tourism, staycations and demand for more premium offerings. Within this market, current consumer trends, including healthier options, free-from alternatives, and vegan and vegetarian dishes, are on the rise. It’s important that suppliers invest in data, and analyse this insight to sure we’re aware of the micro and macro trends affecting the market.”

Matthew Gouldsmith, Channel Director, Wholesale RTM, Lucozade Ribena Suntory

“Consolidation will continue to impact the market and soft drinks within it. We expect growth will continue to come through low- and no-calorie offerings as consumers continue to focus on health, but the wholesale channel will take several years to respond as it’s currently undertrading in these. Generation Z and increased diversity means a growing tendency to drink less alcohol and more demand for soft drinks. Online ordering is only set to increase, which means more soft-drink advertising through wholesale websites, divestment of POS in depot long term, and higher distribution costs for wholesalers.”

Tanya Pepin, Director, The Whole Sale Company (TWC)

“People talk about actionable insight, but what’s the point if no-one actions it? And unfortunately, that’s the reality in nine out of ten cases. At TWC, we’re working on linking our sales-out data to customer-facing apps and voice-activated controls because the future is about cutting out the manual analytics and factoring in machine learning. That way, customers can be automatically targeted with tailored offers and account managers can ask Alexa or Siri how their sales out are doing. The future is all about working smart and embracing tech to save time, resource and cost.”

Andrew King, Head of Wholesale, UK & Ireland, Nielsen Brandbank

“The power of high-quality and consistent product information will be the foundation for accelerated growth in the wholesale sector. In the past, the lack of a cross-industry approach to sharing product data has created inefficiencies and additional costs in the market. Rather than putting the burden of product content management on brands, retailers and wholesalers, we’re helping trading partners share data through a standardised system, which cuts out inconsistency and inaccuracy throughout the supply chain.”

Kirsty Harris-Clarke, Head of SalesOut, SalesOut

“The future will be turbulent, with new entrants challenging established distribution models and making customers’ lives easier by delivering products ever-more quickly. It will be a world where wholesale data is in abundance – enabling manufacturers, wholesalers, retailers and foodservice to unite and strengthen the channel. Data will not be guarded and protected by its owners through uncertainty of what benefits it may bring to competitors, but freely available to gain an accurate and deep understanding of our channel. The SalesOut virtual meeting room is the destination to drive mutually beneficial conversations with its real-time cognitively-generated insight through artificial intelligence.”

Trystan Farnworth, Commercial Director, Britvic Soft Drinks

“There’s never been a more thrilling time to work in soft drinks and against this backdrop, the wholesale channel has never seen more scale for our category – accelerated by supply chain consolidation in UK retail and foodservice. Wholesale overtrades on serving independent and small businesses, and it’s in these settings that trends often first emerge and first mover advantage is won for brands. Here’s to exciting times ahead!”