BUDAPEST, Hungary -- The "center of economic gravity" in the world is shifting toward Asia and Eastern Europe, according to presentations at the World Food Business Summit here last month. The event is presented by CIES -- The Food Business Forum, a global association of food retailers and vendors.
e summit. That is in contrast to Western Europe, where the mind-set is more defensive.
Among the retailers seeking to grow in developing parts of the world is Amsterdam, Netherlands-based Spar International, which last month opened its first supermarket in Croatia and the first of 10 planned for Romania. In the past year, it also has debuted in India and China. The first Chinese location, a 75,000-square-foot hypermarket in Weihai, had 16,500 customers on opening day, according to Gordon Campbell, chief executive officer.
In other presentations at the summit, according to summaries provided by CIES:
- Jurgen Elfers, analyst, Commerzbank, said retailers in Europe are expanding their private-label lines to compete with discounters. Delhaize, for example, has increased private-label penetration to 33%, while Leclerc is targeting a 50% penetration rate.
- Stephan Grunewald, managing director, Rheingold Institute for Qualitative Market and Media Research, said the euphoria over discount stores in Germany has died down during the past three years, and as a result discount formats are adding more fresh foods, drug store items and luxury goods.
- Zygmunt Mierdorf, chief information officer of German retailer Metro Group, said the chain is seeing some benefits from radio frequency identification, including a reduction in the time for receiving pallets from 90 seconds to 70 seconds. It also developed an RFID tag in partnership with Nestle that improves reading rates.
- Porntip Rojanasunan, forensic pathologist and deputy director at the Central Institute for Forensic Science at the Justice Ministry of Thailand, spoke in a closing session about the systematic processes she implemented to coordinate the identification of victims after the tsunami there last year. She said she directed her 10,000 volunteers to work together by adopting a "trust model" in which everyone was directed to trust everyone else at all times.