In the mood for e-food

E-food? For me, it’s far more than just ordering food online and having it delivered. As the first E-Food Market and Product Developer at Swiss Post, I discover new aspects, horizons and possibilities all the time.

Emilija Damjanovic

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My name is Emilija Damjanovic, I’m 27 years old and I come from Berne. I’ve been working at Swiss Post for nearly 11 years and I’ve been employed as an E-Food Market and Product Developer since 2018. As the youngest member of the team, I was assigned the newest area of business development at PostLogistics – the e-food sector.

Both food and sport are personally important to me. In my spare time, I spend a lot of time outdoors with our dog, on my bike, at the gym or playing beach volleyball or basketball. As a former competitive volleyball player, a healthy and balanced diet is important to me. Thanks to my personalized training and nutrition plan from Team Hediger, I’ve made huge progress both physically and mentally and I’ve got a healthy lifestyle.

For the past two years, I’ve also been focusing on food in my work. My job is to develop business models for the food industry. The things that are keeping me busiest at the moment and are some of the biggest challenges are temperature-controlled packaging and logistics solutions as well as insulated food systems.

Although e-food is still fairly new in Switzerland, I can see specific market needs and think that it has considerable potential – both for wholesalers and smaller businesses such as cheese dairies, butchers and farmers. It’s becoming more and more important to develop existing e-food platforms and services and design new business models.

My task is to follow trends in the market, be familiar with the relevant food regulations, gather customer needs, assess packaging suppliers and develop sustainable solutions for our customers and the market. I’ve authored studies on the development of e-food, business models in Switzerland and abroad and the needs of both private and business recipient customers. I’ve done a lot of travelling over the last two years, conducting interviews and acquiring knowledge both in Switzerland and abroad.

In the summer of 2019, I got the chance to travel to Silicon Valley in the US to study the e-food market there. My task was to identify e-food business models and packaging and logistics solutions, analyse technologies and trends and make international contacts.

Although some of the market requirements and regulations are different in the US and China, the two big e-food players, than in Switzerland, we can still learn a lot from them. This already begins with the implementation of projects. We’re generally cautious and prefer to cover our backs both legally and financially in multiple ways before we launch a business model. By contrast, the Americans live by the motto “the competition never sleeps”. They risk far more, which in turn makes them faster. Autonomous vehicles delivering food to customers are part of everyday life in Silicon Valley.

I think there’s considerable potential in sector-specific solutions and pricing offers. The goods value of foodstuffs is fairly low, which leads to lower margins and a reduced willingness to pay for logistics and packaging solutions. It’s difficult to meet all the challenges, such as developing sustainable, reusable food-compatible containers that are modular and zone-temperature-controlled and can maintain temperatures over x number of hours at an affordable price. But it is possible. And it’s also possible to produce zero waste.

At the moment, I’m developing e-food business models for employees working from home. This case can be scaled up to include other customer segments such as senior citizens and blind people who have limited mobility and are reliant on help, as well as groups such as building site workers, with deliveries of healthy, hot meals.

Something very important to me personally is promoting seasonal and regional buying – both in shops and online – and developing sustainable concepts to tackle food waste.

If you’d like more information about our ongoing e-food projects, please feel free to contact me.

written by

Emilija Damjanovic