How to fight food seasonality

Good weather and bad weather influence what people eat just as their daily living habits, working hours and even their moods do. Agro-food companies cannot influence these aspects much, but they can confront one of the most decisive factors when it comes to sales peaks: seasonality; in other words, when the consumption of certain foods depends on a specific period of time in the year such as a season or certain months.

Excellent knowledge of the product as well as the way in which it is consumed by the different types of buyers and what these consumers are like is essential to dealing with food seasonality. One mustn’t forget what happened to Aquarius, which was launched onto the market as a beverage exclusively for athletes after doing sport yet, in the end, expanded its horizons for consumption by the general public. In fact, it first appeared in 1992 at the time of the Barcelona Olympics. Later on, it was recommended as a means of hydration and gradually spread beyond the world of sports. The brand quickly identified this and changed its line of communication to be aimed at a whole new target public.

Doing the necessary market research to fight seasonality leads to extremely valuable information which can then be dressed up with great doses of innovation and creativity. Innovation is needed to develop new products based on the data supplied by customers and a little creativity can make the new offering attractive.

One good recent example of adaptation to the different seasons of the year can be found with those popular Ferrero Rocher chocolates which are marketed under the premise of the exclusiveness of being able to buy something only during the winter months so they are guaranteed to maintain all the original properties and can be eaten under the best conditions. Their website even boasts of having sold zero chocolates over the summer. However, they’ve recently joined the summer market by coming up with ice creams based on their chocolates. Beating seasonality isn’t always that easy. It all depends on the product family.

The most extreme example are Christmas sweets and ice cream, which are clearly most suited to the month of December and the summer months, respectively. Such is the case that you can’t even buy the typical Spanish marzipan or nougats outside the Christmas season although sales are beginning earlier and earlier each year. Despite the earlier sales, consumption has not significantly gone up. The situation is rather similar with ice cream. There’s quite a bit of ice cream available year-round yet consumption is only anecdotal during winter.

Production processes and various food storage methods have been able to break the seasonality of many products so that it is now possible to eat artichokes in August and asparagus in January or enjoy chickpeas at any time of the year. Thus, the intrinsic seasonality of some foods has been broken. Nonetheless, seasonality continues to exist due to consumer demand which varies throughout the year. When it comes to pulses, for example, household consumption drops significantly between June and August and then sharply increases from September until summer comes.

In view of this context, here are a few keys that can help agro-food companies fight seasonality or at least cope with it.

 

New storage methods to fight seasonality

A product that’s always available on supermarket shelves will get customers used to buying it. The best thing is combining this premise with sustainability, meaning choosing alternative storage methods is an absolute must. A few alternatives include salting, smoking, deep-freezing and tinning.

 

Alternative means of consumption and presentation to fight seasonality

If you want consumers to buy your products year-round, you have to manage all the changes in food that occur throughout and present products in an attractive manner that suits each period of time. With pulses, for example, it’s not as appealing to eat Spanish stew when it’s 40º C outside in August as it is during the winter. However, when it’s hot, people do feel like having a lentil salad, white beans sautéed with shiitake mushrooms or hummus with crudités.

 

Encouraging consumption during periods of low-demand

Promotion is necessary when consumption falls. Don’t accept seasonality because you can’t change it, change it because you can’t accept it. Companies normally seem to disappear during the months when consumption drops when in all reality, they should be going that extra mile. And this is true for each company as well as the sector as a whole because the effects are beneficial for everyone.

 

Conclusion: habits vs. Seasonality

All of these suggestions lead to one key factor: changing consumer habits. It’s not easy and it takes time, dedication and effort. But isn’t that what we’ve been doing within agro-food companies from the very beginning?

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