With more than ten years’ experience in real estate in South Africa and Australia, Amy has enjoyed every facet that the diverse industry offers, from being principal of an established sales and property development agency, to a sales agent, a commercial property manager, and also the principal of a management company.
In 2016 she made the decision to move back to South Africa and join We are Food as a director where she focuses on driving growth of the business through its’ online platform and physical retail stores, while ensuring that premium product quality is retained. Amy will be a panelist on our session focusing on “How is disruptive distribution changing the “rules of engagement” in delivering nutritious food?” on day 1 of the conference.
We had the opportunity to ask Amy a few questions on the food and beverage industry before the FoodNext.Africa conference. See what she had to say:
FNA: What do you believe has been the key change in the F&B sector over the past five years?
AW: Supply and Demand. Changes in supply – small, artisanal kitchens are popping up where we never thought they would before. Now, aspiring chefs don’t need to work for a big, corporate kitchen, but can begin to feed their passion from small home kitchens, food trucks or market stalls, and marketing their business using an iPhone and Instagram account. This means very little risk and capital expenditure is required to get a food business going which results in more competition in the industry and therefore we’re driven to constantly innovate and grow – it’s an exciting time for us all. Changes in demand – customers are more educated and discerning than ever before. Not only do they want great quality that is well priced, but they’re looking for responsibly-sourced produce and “food with heart” where there’s a definite trend towards supporting smaller, local businesses rather than the big powerhouses and conventional market leaders.
FNA: Where do you see the three key challenges driving innovation in the industry over the next five years?
- Logistics in terms of nationwide distribution is still a major challenge. South Africa is vast with the majority of our population living in rural areas and our distribution channels are still ineffective and expensive compared to our global counterparts. As a result, we will have to think outside the box when it comes to distribution which may result in more ‘click and collect’ opportunities, or small courier business’s specialising in cold chain logistics in various regions.
- The increased cost of animal protein as well as a general shift in customer sentiment towards the consumption of more responsibly-sourced foods with a lighter carbon footprint. Vegetarian and vegan meal options are going to become more and more in demand, and it is not expected that every menu offers plant-based protein sources.
- Focus on holistically “healthier” foods. Low fat is out, no sugar is in, food must be good for me, while also delicious and enjoyable, while still affordable, convenient and eco-friendly. The challenge is for us to work with local suppliers that meet all of these requirements.
FNA: The F&B sector is undergoing huge change. What are the three tips you would give for success in the coming five years?
- Don’t imitate- it’s great to gain inspiration from other companies you admire nationally, or globally but the key to success in the F&B sector is authenticity.
- Quality trumps– Ensure your quality systems are of the highest standard from the onset as this will allow you understand all of the intricacies of your business from the get-go, but as you expand and grow you will have some great systems in place that will ensure your operation runs cost-efficiently and effectively.
- Invest in your team – South Africa has a wealth of unexplored talent and in the food sector you will need a reliable and passionate team so invest in team training, skills development and personal upliftment. We have seen an unprecedented “return on investment” from taking this approach and now have a power-house team which is supporting us in our dream to grow our business.
FNA: Which type of people do you believe would gain the most from attending your session this year?
AW: Entrepreneurs looking at entering the F&B sector in a cost-effective and relatively quick manner would find this panel discussion enlightening, as well as business owners already in the sector, who might gain insight into scaling a food business and addressing real-world problems which we’ve faced within our business. We also hope we can help encourage those in the business and spread a little positivity amongst our peers.