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Getting Online Ready: Selling Meat & Seafood Online

9th November 2020

Rawaa Shami, Insight Specialist, Strategic Insight & Planning, Bord Bia – The Irish Food Board

For many, the impact of Covid has been very disruptive, not only in unsettling those 2020 travel plans we aspired to, but also in our daily routines.

As we tried to adjust to the changing environment, we began to adopt new hobbies & habits. Perhaps one of the biggest changes we’ve seen is how we are adopting new technologies to stay connected, stay entertained & maintain some normality; digital content and subscriptions services – such as Netflix and Now TV – have seen a growth of 12.4%, while takeaways and fast food sales rose 8.7%’ (The Guardian).

With movement restrictions at the beginning of the lockdown, coupled with a desire to stay safe & away from crowds, there was also a surge in online grocery shopping. In the UK there was +33% forecasted growth of the online grocery market in 2020 alone (Mintel) & in the US there was a +218% increase in downloads of the mobile app Instacart, an online grocery retailer, in March vs. Feb 2020 (TechCrunch).

Our Selling Meat & Seafood online study became very timely, as it was set out to understand how we can help Ireland’s Meat and Seafood exporters sell more effectively through online grocery retailers globally. It was designed to explore three key objectives;

1) Current online landscape: Understand where the sector is at today, including the macro context which is influencing and shaping this space, including markets and players;

2) The current & future consumer: Capture the current behaviours & attitudes towards purchasing meat & seafood online among online grocery shoppers & which additional methods are most effective in encouraging greater online purchase;

3) The future of grocery online: Identify the key emerging areas likely to shape tomorrow’s online shopping capabilities, shopper habits and experiences, as well as any action areas to Sell Meat and Seafood better Online

Whilst the quantitative study was conducted in UK, France & Sweden, there were many great learnings which are relevant across markets…

• Ecommerce as a whole is seeing growth, which is expected to continue;

• Today, people live in a hyper-connected world that continues to blend with smart technology. Tomorrow, people will expect smart technologies to be a greater and more personal part of the online shopping experience;

• As a new wave of first-time online users begin using these platforms, it will become essential for retailers to up their online ‘game’

• As such, suppliers are in a unique position to work directly with retailers to help enhance this online experience and solidify partnerships by providing added value

• Barriers exist which prevent consumers purchasing meat & seafood online, however, these can be overcome via innovative solutions which deliver more trust & confidence in the product quality

• There are Five Action Areas, each identifying a set of needs, opportunities and action considerations that Irish meat and seafood producers can use to leverage the strength of online, address online shopper barriers and enhance retailer relationships

It may be fair to say that whilst we expected to see online grocery shopping increase over time, the current climate has no doubt sped up this timeline. As a result, grocery shopping online could become part of the ‘new normal’ and embedded in how we engage with food retailers as consumers, & retailer's expectations of their suppliers in the future.



(1)   https://www.theguardian.com/business/2020/mar/10/delivery-and-digital-services-thrive-on-coronavirus-outbreak

(2)   https://techcrunch.com/2020/03/16/grocery-delivery-apps-see-record-downloads-amid-coronavirus-outbreak/  

(3)   https://www.mintel.com/press-centre/retail-press-centre/mintel-forecasts-online-grocery-sales-will-grow-an-estimated-33-during-2020