A look back at 2019
Various trends shaped the Food and Nutrition space in 2019. Market consolidation was a key one, including significant M&A activity such as IFF’s merger with DuPont’s Nutrition & Biosciences business, and ADM’s €1.5bn acquisition of Neovia. We had also seen a rise in the prominence of plant-based meat alternatives, along with consumer demand for natural and clean label food ingredients.
2020 was well on the way to another exciting year of development and growth in the industry but Covid-19 has caused many companies to relook at their growth plans.
2020 Reality for Food & Nutrition
The Covid-19 pandemic has certainly had a dramatic impact on the way that people eat and how they shop. We have seen some consistent, but some very different trends, geographically and socio-economically.
Whilst out-of-home consumption has been hit hard due to lockdowns, food and nutrition companies with B2C channels have benefited from a rise in e-commerce revenue.
There had been previous moves towards a more local approach to food provision. This has been heightened in some parts due to concerns over food security, food supply chains and delivery.
Many companies in Food Ingredients, Human/Animal Nutrition as well as Flavour & Fragrance, experienced record sales in the month of April 2020 in Asia as customers stocked up on critical raw ingredients and additives. We have seen many companies, who have been prudent before the crisis, being in great shape financially. Taking advantage, they have brought in talent to build up their position and capture more market share. However, it seems that Q4 2020 will be a period of uncertainty.
Many companies are prioritising adaptation strategies. They are focusing on the products and brands that can deliver to the needs of the customer right now. They are looking at operating models and channel selection that offer the best opportunities for the rest of 2020 and beyond.
For a number of companies, whilst focusing on the necessary cost and efficiency gains, they do not plan to sacrifice investments that will help them in the long run.
Hiring outlook for Food & Nutrition roles in Singapore
Several key skills will be at the top of the checklist for the remainder of this year. An entrepreneurial mind set is among them, as companies look to differentiate their offering. At the same time, more organisations are creating new business units to accelerate growth in certain areas. From start-ups to established multinational companies, firms want highly adaptable individuals who can thrive in a fluid matrix environment and be creative at the same time.
Individuals with the technical capabilities but who are also commercially minded will be highly sought-after. Across the industry, companies want sales staff with a technical background to ensure they can have a meaningful conversation with customers. On the other hand, they are seeking technical people with business acumen who can understand the market’s needs and tailor solutions to meet them.
The trend towards localisation will have a growing influence on new recruits, following the shift in business model towards hiring teams that are on the ground in each market. The preference is increasingly towards being closer to customers rather than continuing with the previous approach of a regional HQ relying heavily on local distributors.
In line with how the industry is evolving, the top roles in demand in 2020 include:
- Business development
- Digital marketing
- Market research and insights
- Sales and sales management
Among the more active hirers are likely to be firms in segments such as flavour houses, food ingredients, and human and animal nutrition.
Yet, firms looking to add headcount need to tackle the existing mismatch of skill sets in order to identify available and suitable candidates, as well as those with an entrepreneurial spirit.
Take a look at the 2020 Predictions vs Reality mini-series so far: