At Manna Tree, our mission is to improve human health through nutrition. Our investments reflect our core belief that investing in the entire food supply chain can lead to lasting change. We focus on cultivating a global investor base to pursue this mission.
As part of this global focus, our team recently traveled to Zurich and Geneva, Switzerland, to attend our second annual Global Finance Forum. By participating in our annual event, meetings and tours, we gained valuable insight into international perspectives on the food and beverage industry.
Read on to learn more about our trip and the insights we gathered from our time abroad.
Learning from the locals
We spent a day with Swiss-based digital pioneer and entrepreneur, Dominique Locher, who is a great example of how our network is so powerful. Dominique is an internationally experienced CEO, non-executive board member and investor who is focused on transforming the retail and food industry. We could feel his passion when he spoke about changing trends in the European food space. Dominique gave us a tour of key retailers in Zurich and explained the nuances of each store.
In response to the tour, Sylvio Petto-Neto, director at Manna Tree, said, “We were fortunate to visit several grocery stores. Although some stores were more upscale than others, all of them shared the same commitment to high-quality products, fresh, locally sourced foods, and a wide variety of options. Although plant-based options were available, the primary focus was on real meat and dairy with clear consideration of the sustainability of those products.”
Dominique also introduced us to Farmy, where he serves as chairman and is a shareholder. Farmy.ch is an online marketplace for local and organic food that can be purchased directly from farmers and food makers. The marketplace focuses on selecting sustainable producers and maintains an uncompromising focus on quality and transparency.
The company employs smart logistics and its own fleet of e-mobiles to deliver goods in a fresh, emission-reduced and timesaving manner, directly to users’ front doors. Farmy.ch provides online access to fresh and local food products with more than 10,000 hand-picked items from more than 1,000 authentic producers.
We had an opportunity to meet Farmy’s co-founders, Tobias Schubert and Romann Hartmann, and we toured the company’s impressive headquarters in the heart of Zurich.
Key takeaway – Our main takeaway from our time with Dominique was that, although the way Europe buys its food is shifting, its values around health and quality have remained unchanged. Europeans want access to fresh, crisp produce like they would find at their corner bodega. They also want to support local farmers and producers. In order to be successful, online retailers must meet customers where they are and deliver products that align with consumers’ values.
Food is a pillar of health for many Europeans, most of whom have a healthy relationship with food. Europeans tend to spend time and energy preparing meals, pay attention to the source of ingredients and emphasize the importance of gathering with family and friends to enjoy their meals.
“Europe is way ahead of the United States when it comes to food quality, health and sustainability,” said Sylvia Petto-Neto. “The European lifestyle promotes access to fresh, high-quality food. Many Europeans live in small city residences and use public transportation or bicycles instead of cars. This means they tend to shop for groceries more frequently than Americans. Going to the store several days each week allows them to buy fresh food in smaller quantities while focusing on high-quality, locally sourced ingredients.”
We were inspired by our experience with Europe’s approach to food. We observed balance, intention and health benefits. With our visit to Farmy, we witnessed first hand how European start-ups are prioritizing health and sustainability in a scalable way.
The Swiss Population Prioritizes Personal Nutrition
According to a recent report by the Gottlieb Duttweiler Institute, the first priority of many Swiss citizens is their own health. 84%of Swiss people report that food and nutrition are important to them. In fact, food and nutrition ranked higher than health, exercise and sports. More than 75% of respondents reported they often or always eat healthy, while 48% said they always eat sustainably.
A Continued Partnership
Manna Tree will continue to grow our global network, and that certainly includes Europe. During our trip overseas, we discovered a mutual love for food and a shared mission to improve human health through nutrition. We believe our success will be greatly enhanced by partnering with European countries, and we look forward to what the future holds.
We can’t wait to see you next year, Switzerland!
Keep in touch with us for additional details on our annual events and travel schedule.
Credit for report: Schäfer, C., Frick, K. Bauer, J. C. (2023), European Food Trends Report Feeding the Future: Opportunities for a Sustainable Food System, Gottlieb Duttweiler Institute (GDI), Study No. 52. Thank you to Dominique Locher for facilitating.