New Challenges Faced by the Food Industry in Emerging Markets

Matthieu Malige

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Between physical sales, ensuring a brand’s visibility and enabling the development of customer experience, as well as harnessing digital sales and ensuring a wide geographical reach, the heart of the food giants is in balance. Matthieu Malige, Chief Financial Officer of the Carrefour group, offers us some food for thought.

Physical Sales, a Necessary Step

Physical presence in emerging markets is essential: a reason why many groups develop solid subsidiaries abroad. Matthieu Malige, Chief Financial Officer of the Carrefour group, told us that this was the case for his business, which has formed partnerships with the Majid Al Futtaim group (250 stores in the Middle East and Africa, including 6 in Kenya) and the CFAO Retail group (3 stores in the Ivory Coast, 1 in Cameroon and 1 in Senegal).

The physical sales format, “Cash & Carry”, persists as a particularly popular for customers within emerging markets. Carrefour, via its CFAO subsidiary, intends to massively deploy the “Cash & Carry” format in Senegal, the Ivory Coast and Cameroon,  in their “Supeco” supermarket chain. Matthieu Malige, Chief Financial Officer of the Carrefour group, aims to develop around 100 stores of this type across the African continent over a ten year period, already representing an investment of around 30 million euros in 2019.

But beyond the above scope, and despite its costs, it remains essential to commit to the digital development of emerging markets.

Digitalizing to Conquer Targets with High Purchasing Power

If physical sales can convince very large segments, a digital strategy should make it possible to reach a broader target, particularly customers with high purchasing power. While the digital industry is still emerging on the African continent, it has proved its ability to reach a  bracket of the population that is connected and eager to buy international products.

While the online sales sector in Africa is largerly dominated by American Gafa (Google, Amazon, Facebook, Apple) and Chinese BATX (Baidu, Alibaba, Tencent and Xiaomi) a few African players do remain present on the scene, including Jumia, MercadoLibre, Shopee and Konga.

And indeed it was with Jumia, a local actor, that Carrefour chose to collaborate with. In 2018, Matthieu Malige, Chief Financial Officer of the Carrefour Group, announced the online sales of Carrefour products with the e-commerce leader on the African continent. This partnership has already enabled the marketing of Carrefour product ranges in four African countries: Cameroon, Ivory Coast, Kenya and Senegal.

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