Francisco Pomares. Food Product Offering Director at Auchan Retail Spain
The world is in a constant state of change, it’s in motion, and consumer expectations likewise change quickly as can readily be seen on a daily basis throughout our planet.
Consumers are paying ever more attention to their well-being and quality of life. Growing importance is being given to eating well, local produce, healthy food, etc. Moreover, consumers are increasingly connected through multiple devices. Indeed, the ‘phygital’ is now a reality, blurring the line that once separated the physical from the digital.
And that’s precisely where the new shopper feels comfortable: in a changing ecosystem where coexistence with technology is not merely an accepted reality, but a necessary one.
Change, therefore, is the great certainty with which both wholesale and retail sellers must deal every day. Change entails evolving, renewing, sharing, transforming, improving, innovating… which is why we must ensure adaptation not only to the changed consumer, but also to the changing consumer.
I would be remiss not to specifically mention millennials , representing, as they do, a profile of savvy and technologically literate consumers setting clear consumption trends. Moreover, as consumers they tend look for brands or concepts in line with their values, focusing on healthy, environmentally-friendly products, although without overlooking the shopping experience, immediate gratification, customer service and online assistance.
The experience has become a key factor in this new context, which explains why the sensory is becoming increasingly important in any shopping space.
Another clear trend that has come to stay is the commitment to sustainability. The consumer is aware, informed and seeks a holistic vision of the product that goes beyond what is presented on the shelf.
Health, well-being and pleasure are three other factors that influence purchasing decisions.
Consumers are diverse and we must be able to offer personalised and individualised products to meet their expectations. It is precisely our commitment to the good, the healthy and the local that is meeting these new needs and guiding all our business activity, including the fruit and vegetable sector, of course.
We are fortunate to find ourselves in a country that is one of the top producers worldwide, with very powerful regional crop yields, an outstanding variety and wealth of varied produce. Moreover, fruit and vegetables are staples of the Spanish diet, thus explaining the high national consumption rate of these products.
We are working passionately to develop this market and to ensure the availability of a wide and carefully selected range of products, both in the larger hypermarkets and in supermarkets.
In fact, each one of our centres readily attest to our response to consumer needs as described above. For instance, I would highlight our commitment to berries and citric fruits, closely linked, as they are, to health benefits.
Organic produce is also greatly on the rise, precisely owing to the aforementioned clear commitment to sustainability. At present, we provide the market with over a hundred organic products, while also working on their correct identification. Rigour is the cornerstone of all our dealings with the customer.
Tropical fruits, ranges IV and V, and seasonal fruits, are three more examples of our commitment, available in a wide variety at our hypermarkets and supermarkets.
Furthermore, true to our commitment to the environment, we have launched a plan to reduce the use of pesticides by taking on an environmental commitment with regard to the maximum pesticide limits on the fruit and vegetables we bring to market, more stringent than those laid down by official bodies.
Auchan Retail’s (Zenalco) fruit and vegetable purchasing department has been working on this project since 2013, the year in which it started the first tests on a family farm in Valencia and at the Polytechnic University of Valencia. Since then a score of producers have signed up to this initiative.
These products, which will soon be available at our centres, come entirely from Spain and are grown in a sustainable manner, with minimal use of chemical products on the crop, while always prioritising biological control and mechanical work.
Likewise, no post-harvest chemical treatment is used. Accordingly, they are neither pre-ripened nor preserved, thus ensuring a perfectly ripe, fresh product.
All land plots are subject to meticulous technical supervision to ensure crop development, in addition to certified laboratories conducting the pertinent analyses.
Lastly, by offering a wide selection of products, and always at the most competitive price, we ensure the quality of our exclusive products and strive to offer an excellent customer experience every day.