Our Food Vision
The Nordic food market has been dominated by large offline players with strong market positions. As the food sector sits on the verge of significant transformation, that is about to drastically change.
Food will move online, but remain local
The Nordic countries have long been hailed as leaders in innovation, digital transformation and technical adoption with some of the world’s fastest broadband speeds, highest mobile penetration rates and a track-record of having created the highest number of unicorns per capita in the last decade. Yet in some areas, such as food, the same Nordic countries are distanced by the true innovators.
Food is one of the largest categories of the average Nordic consumer's wallet, and the transition to online has only just begun. The Nordic online grocery market is nascent in an international context. Online penetration is below 2% across all Nordic countries, compared to 8% in the UK and 20% in South Korea. We believe that the Nordics will catch up. Given customer behaviour and the fundamental economics, food is one of few categories that warrants a native application as well as proprietary last mile distribution, something that over time can and will be leveraged beyond the scope of the online grocer itself.
As this market inevitably moves online, the digital first players have some inherent benefits in a market with limited customer churn compounded by widespread franchising models among incumbents, posing a key obstacle for a centralized push. Moreover, we believe that food will remain local, with customers valuing eating fresh, organic and locally produced food, limiting the threat of entry from large international players. Within food, the world is not your oyster.
Providing More and Better Choice
Food is the last big consumer category to undergo the classical offline to online shift and the benefits of such a shift are significant, not just for the individual consumer but also for our environment and our collective wellbeing.
For the individual consumer, the online model enables significant time savings by removing travel time to and from stores as well as time spent on discovery in store. Time is a scarce resource and the potential of saving time will be an increasingly powerful addition to any company’s value proposition. It is estimated that the average household spends 90 minutes every week grocery shopping, time that could, and should, be spent elsewhere.
The way we grow, package, ship and eat food has changed dramatically and will continue to change at an accelerating pace. Innovation and awareness of what we eat and how that affects our health is increasing, and food is correspondingly becoming an integrated part of one’s identity, beliefs and desires, as well as a tool for managing wellness. Innovative business models are emerging to capitalize on this development, business models that also have the power to contribute to us limiting the burden on our planet by reducing waste and optimizing transportation.
Food, health and sustainability are thus inextricably intertwined and as we strongly believe in delivering both economic and social value, we find that food fits squarely with our investment thesis. By understanding the full ecosystem, from production and sourcing through warehousing to distribution, last mile-logistics and food waste management, we wish to close the loop and push for a more sustainable grocery industry while supporting the consumer in their lifestyle choices.
We have invested SEK 0.9bn in MatHem, our third and largest investment in the food space in the last 12 months. This is certainly not a coincidence, but rather a strategic decision based on our strong belief that food is likely to go through significant transformation across all areas of the value chain over the next 10 years.
MatHem is the largest independent play at scale in Sweden and has been the clear pioneer of Nordic online groceries since inception some 10 years back. Entrepreneurship and innovation is at the core of MatHem and the team continuously works to find new and innovative ways to provide customers with a seamless shopping experience, with initiatives ranging from partnering up with Glue to enable in fridge delivery to picking up used MatHem bags as well as cans and bottles from customers to ensure responsible recycling of the materials.
In 2018 MatHem completed over 1 million deliveries, highlighting the strategic value of a pure play online grocery platform with regular and recurring access to consumers’ homes. The partnership with Clas Ohlson is the first step to efficiently leverage that platform, delivering additional products and services on top of the company’s own food assortment.
We are excited about being part of this journey and see MatHem as the perfect platform from which to build a service that offers consumers more and better choice. A platform that can save consumers 90 minutes of time every week, is sustainable, and that helps them over time understand what they are eating and might even inspire them to improve their eating habits.