Close this search box.

Grocery Innovation 2021 Research

The pandemic caused a channel shift as consumers moved online, accelerating digital roadmaps for grocery retailers and brands by as much as five years, in some cases. This move is permanent and has resulted in budgets for 2021 changing across the industry due to different aspects becoming the new focus for growth.

In partnership with Salesforce, InternetRetailing set out to determine the focus areas, growth vectors and priorities for leading grocers, FMCG and CP brands. In late 2020, we surveyed and interviewed retailers and brands across Europe asking about their priorities for the coming 12 months. This Grocery Innovation Report highlights those priorities.

Supplemental interviews, and pan-European and country-specific data, show the extent of the challenges and changes being overcome as the pandemic continues to influence the industry and consumer behaviour.

Finding & discussion areas

  • Sustainability: 69% of global consumers say that they are supporting local shops.
  • Technology: technology is not following consumer behaviour as 70% of grocers in Europe have an Apple iOS mobile app. Only 41% offer an Android app, although 73% of mobile phones operate on Android.
  • Covid-19: RetailX’s European survey found that the pandemic has been both a threat (39%) and a growth opportunity (48%) for businesses.
  • Delivery: In March 2020 nearly 80% of European grocers had no delivery slots available.

Hear from

Pepsi Co

Rui Francisco, director of ecommerce, PepsiCo Europe

  • PepsiCo products are enjoyed by consumers more than one billion times a day in more than 200 countries and territories around the world.
  • Based in Purchase, New York, United States
  • PepsiCo is testing D2C and reducing food waste via

As we think about the overall plans that encompass online and offline with our retail partners, the insights that we gain into the new occasions and how people are buying we bring that back into our marketing teams, category teams and our brands to strengthen our products and make them more relevant to our shoppers.”


Daniel Lundh, founder and coo, Lifvs

  • Lifvs operates 24 app-operated, unmanned grocery stores
  • Operate in Sweden
  • Over 20 operating stores

In a sense we are a tech company as a core because everything is run by tech and how we operate around big data and the user experience. Our system could be applied to any other industry as long as you have a barcode or QR.”


Chris Poad, managing director, online, Tesco

  • The grocery retailer is one of the leading retailers in RXUK Top500 research
  • Increased online capacity to 1.5 million orders a week

“At peak, which is the week or two prior to Christmas when we make the delivery slots available to customers, we would typically see an increase in traffic to our website of about 2 times compared with the baseline. On the weekend during the prime minister’s first announcement [of the UK’s lockdown] we saw a 45-times increase in traffic and demand.”


Hervé Beck, general manager, France Benelux & EMEA, Kind

  • Based in New York
  • KIND Bars are sold at more than 150,000 stores in the United States

“For the multinationals D2C is definitely not a sales channel compared to the traditional
channels. I view it as a fantastic data collection system where you can get to know your customers better, but it’s not really efficient in terms of sales as you do not have the scale. When you are a small brand and you rely on D2C, then it becomes your life and death experience. It’s very different and that’s why we see so many small brands disrupting the market, as not only do they have a physical presence but they also have a digital store and for them, proportionally, the digital store is quite important in terms of total sales.”

S Group

Pekka Litmanen, svp customer relationships and loyalty, S Group

  • S Group is a customer-owned Finnish network of companies in the retail and service sectors, with more than 1,800 outlets in Finland.
  • S-mobiili links loyalty app, carbon footprint and personalised nutrition

“Data helps us understand our customers better. Above all, the goal of increasing the period
we keep purchase data is to bring more services that make the daily lives of co op members easier, as well as to develop our range of products to be as suitable as possible.”


Chris Conway, head of ecommerce, Co-op

  • Co-op is the UK’s fifth biggest food retailer with more than 2,500 local, convenience and medium-sized stores.
  • 130 Starship autonomous delivery robots have been deployed by the Co-op.
  • Alongside the launch of its own online store, the grocer has expanded the number of products available through the Deliveroo app from 300 to 1,200.

“In 2021, we’ll finish the job of making sure everyone in the UK has access to the service. Equally, we need to look at the product roadmap and accelerate some of the enhancements we’ve already set in motion.”


Jonathan Hertog, VP E-commerce, Data & Analytics at Delhaize Belgium

  • Delhaize is one of the leading supermarket chains in Belgium and Luxembourg, which was launched almost 150 years ago, in 1867.
  • The retailer operates in more than 800 stores.
  • Delhaize Super Plus Loyalty Scheme encourages healthy eating while leveraging data for the grocer.

Suggesting healthier crisps with less salt is straightforward. The question is, what use cases can we find that are relevant for people and how do we get them done? How do we know whether the data belongs to you or your wife who does the shopping? The relevancy for me is crucial and that’s something that’s a real challenge.”

Mighty Small

Theadora Alexander, founder, Mighty Small

  • Mighty Small launched in 2020 to give small challenger brands a platform on which to sell their products.
  • The company now specialises in foodie gifts and bundles.

“The macro trends that were getting behind challenger brands for the past ten years have never been stronger. Their agility, their closeness to the consumer and their connections with the consumer, their ability to deliver flexibility, differentiation, distinctiveness. All of these things have never been more powerful.”

Nomad Foods

Nick Steel, growth strategy & insight director, Nomad Foods

  • Nomad Foods is a leading frozen food company in Europe and owners of a portfolio of leading niche brands which includes Birds Eye, Findus and iglo.
  • The company reported RSV growth in ecommerce of 60% in September 2020 for the year to date, compared with the previous year.

“What we are doing is telling the category growth story with different and longer-term insights so we can be more accurate about what we know is going to happen in the future. This helps retailers manage and structure the category accordingly to deliver the best for their shoppers.”

Premier Foods

Richard Martin, chief customer officer, Premier Foods

  • Premier Foods gained from merchandising its well known brands online
  • The British food company maximised merchandising foundations to grow online 112% with market share up by 260bps.

“We’re still having to react very fast. There is still the same amount of high-level variables at play, but we know a lot more about each of the variables.”

Reckitt Benckiser

Greg Duce, area ecommerce director – Europe and ANZ, Reckitt Benckiser

  • Reckitt Benckiser is a British multinational consumer goods company which produces health, hygiene and home products.
  • The company’s portfolio of brands includes Durex, Cillit Bang and Dettol.

“A huge part of the collaboration has come from data and a huge part of it will continue to come from there. The challenge for suppliers is to make sure we are coming back with the right consumer-centric plans and category strategies for our partners.”