Fabian Siegel loves building teams that build businesses. He launched his first Internet startup and Germany’s first online auction house, Auktionet in 1996. Since then he has been involved in helping develop ClickandBuy, Strateer, kikin, and Delivery Hero. After a brief stint as an investor at Global Founders Capital, Siegel founded Marley Spoon, a cook-at-home food delivery service, and is now focused on scaling it as CEO.
What are the biggest challenges do you see facing the food & beverage industry?
I believe that like in all other consumer verticals, we are seeing consumer behavior switching from offline to online. More and more purchases are done directly from online retailers, skipping the usual supply chain that we currently see in the food & beverage industry. Very few older brands establish themselves online, rather, new brands are being created. Over the coming years, we will see more and more direct-to-consumer brands in the food & beverage industry that serve customers ten times better than today’s offline companies – while also being cheaper. This change will disrupt the current supply chain in the food & beverage industry.
What do you think is the future of the world’s biggest food & beverage brands?
The biggest food & beverage brands today will probably still be the biggest food & beverage brands tomorrow, but they will face different distribution channels, as classical retail will gradually be replaced with new direct-to-consumer businesses, who ultimately might establish their own brands.
What do you imagine the future of food will look like? Which trends do you think we will see in the future?
The future of food will be less wasteful than it currently is – alone in the EU more than 100 million tons of food are wasted annually. Understanding individual consumer demand and the ability to serve that demand in a mass-customized way allows companies to send just the right amount of products to the customer. This in turn prevents waste and at the same time brings better and healthier food choices to consumers. We will see more on-demand food to prepare ourselves at home and tailored grocery options at the expense of supermarkets and take-out restaurants.
What factors are critical to help keep brands, and their products, forward-thinking?
Brands are not built inside marketing departments or market research groups. Brand building is a function of operational excellence and passion for solving the problems of individual consumers. Brands will continue to grow once they continuously push for operational excellence and focus on serving the customer through company culture and technology. Being relentlessly customer-focused and having software in the DNA of the company are two factors that allow for successful innovation.
Which food or beverage innovator or innovation inspires you and why?
I am inspired by advancements in the use of oceans to grow protein through algae, and eventually other products, to complement traditionally-grown food while reducing waste, energy consumption, and CO2 pollution.
Do you think it is important for brands to “co-create” with their consumers, and if so, why?
Is there something you want the creatives and entrepreneurs who participate in the project to consider when submitting their ideas?
I am interested in solutions that directly improve the quality of life for individual consumers while at the same time saving resources, such as resource-efficient last mile logistics solutions and sustainable food packaging options. Given that the world population keeps growing, there is ample opportunity to serve it well with sustainable products and technological solutions.
What made you decide to be a jury member for the futureoffoodandbeverages.com project?
I am interested in the future of the industry. Being able to participate in a project that explores new ideas and that brings you close to those innovators is intriguing. I hope I can contribute and help – being able to add value is the reward I am looking for.
Fabian Siegel is a jury member for the Future of Food & Beverages project, the first global think tank delivering inspiration, innovation, and tangible solutions shaping tomorrow. To discover how future scenarios will unlock new business opportunities for your company, download the PDF.
Join us at the Future of Food conference in Berlin on October 28, 2016 to explore exciting food and beverages industry innovations and developments! Buy Tickets here.