The objective of the Future Club is to unite industry leaders to brainstorm about the challenges of tomorrow together, during short & smart ‘Power Sessions.’ Each session is kickstarted by an inspiring keynote session to set the scene, to inspire the collective thinking and to serve as fuel for plenary discussions between C-levels from the F&B and food retail industry about the reality of business today (and tomorrow).

For the first edition: The Future of Food, we invited Nils van Dam. Nils van Dam has more than thirty years of experience in the food industry. He held various executive positions on a global, European, and local level, including at Unilever. For six years, he transformed the company to adapt to digital changes in the market. In 2018, Nils joined Duval Union Consulting as global head of food, beverage & food retail.

Some highlights of the morning.

Data-enabled or experience rich brands will survive.

Nils van Dam explained that only brands that are fed by relevant data analysis will be able to survive the battle for the consumer. Both traditional retailers and major tech players are increasingly turning the balance of knowledge and power to their advantage through their superior data usage. Above all, supermarkets will not escape the digital revolution, they need to make investments for the future and adjust the infrastructure.

There is already a wide consensus that says supermarkets need to offer more of an experience – think of a restaurant inside the store, coffee corners, tastings, cooking workshops. In the United States, there are food stores that organize yoga classes. But it would really make a difference if major supermarkets were to gradually change their models.

Power of ecosystems.

An ecosystem is a network of cross-industry players who work together to define, build, and execute market-creating customer and consumer solutions. The power of the ecosystem is that no single player needs to own or operate all components of the solution and that the value of the ecosystem generates larger than the combined value. Any of the players could contribute individually. Retailers use ecosystem partners to go directly to consumers. Ecosystem powerhouse Alibaba connects customers, merchants, and companies, making it easy to do business anywhere in the world. Ecosystems are proving to be winning plays. Digital platforms enable them.

Ecosystems are a major source of industry disruption.

Companies are forming ecosystems to make significant innovation plays — delivering new products and services that grow the customer base and drive expansion into new markets. For instance, Adidas and Siemens are working together to build an intelligent manufacturing plant or “speed factory” that can create customized shoes faster — and at a lower cost — than traditional methods.

The Power Breakfast Session took place at the ‘Chalhoub Group Greenhouse’ (Building 6) in Dubai Design District. The Greenhouse is home to Group’s retail technology accelerator, the in-house incubator for Chaloub employees.