VLAM – the Flemish Agricultural Council recently organized a trip to London. These were Belgian companies in the potato, fruit and vegetable sector. During the two-day tour, exporters and cooperatives were able to make personal contacts in the UK market. There was widespread interest. And attendees had the chance to experience opportunities and new trends in the UK retail landscape.
Times are changing ‘
There is a lot of movement in the UK retail market. Brexit and the global pandemic play a major role in this. During this VLAM mission, the participants got an idea of the changes in the market. These are areas such as e-commerce, packaging, home delivery, assortment management, catering and discounters.
The visit started with a workshop for Belgian delegates and representatives of FIT London, Fruitnet and Tesco. Much time has been spent on the importance of sustainable packaging and consumer behavior in the UK. The interesting ideas of Tesco and Fruitnet could soon be visualized. It was then that, the next day, the delegation went to see the fruits and vegetables on the shelves of the stores. It was during the retail tour.
The second day started off bright and early. The band toured the New Covent Garden market for a long time. There were also tailor-made interviews. The new Covent Garden market is in full development and the halls are completely renovated. In a few years, the entire market will have changed and companies in the sector will have established themselves in the region.
During an inspiring visit, it is, of course, essential to see the market firsthand. Retailers showed unusual interest during the retail tour.
Not only store managers have appeared. Buyers also often came to meet potential and existing suppliers on the continent after two years.
VLAM has arranged meetings at Asda, Sainsbury, Tesco, Morrisons, Whole Foods, Marks and Spencer and Waitrose.
The group also visited an Amazon distribution point for supermarkets. Almost all retailers sell Belgian products, including vegetables, fruits and potato products.
The group has also appeared in German discount stores. These are increasingly gaining market share in the British Isles. Aldi is, remarkably, a fairly important price fixer. The tour ended at a herb and sprout farm. It’s underground, right in the heart of London. It is also an emerging market in the UK.
VLAM already considered this a successful inspiring tour. Participants are enthusiastic about the prospect of more such VLAM initiatives in existing markets.