At the age of 24, Mathieu launched his food e-commerce business in Belgium: “Customers are looking for”

At the age of 24, Matthew started e-commerce food. He has created his own online store for local products and travels the Belgian roads to discover new products. However, online sales today tend to stagnate a bit in our country, after significant growth in the wake of the health crisis. In fact, Belgium lags far behind in this regard, compared to our French, German and Dutch neighbours.

“A new website dedicated to products was launched a few weeks ago. It brings together the best of Belgian food products”Matthew wrote to us via the orange button alerting us. At 24, this young man from Chaumont-Gistoux travels the roads of our country to discover new products to display in his online store. A few months after launching his project, Matthew now wants us to find out. He also has the opportunity to explain to us how much he believes in the future of e-commerce for food in Belgium. “There are more and more players in this sector. It is a booming sector that is starting to weigh on us and today we see that customers are looking for it. They want local products or no more big retailers and would rather have it delivered to their home or office, without the need to shop”commented.

It is a booming sector and is developing very well in other countries, so there is no reason not to develop it here.

Matteo notes that online sales are increasing and that things tend to become more and more digital. This is what prompted him to create Belmade. “Local commerce and e-commerce, these are things that can coexist very well. I see more and more demand and more and more substantive supply, so it shows that it is developing. C is a booming sector and it is developing very well in other countries, so there is no reason not to develop here”He said with confidence.

12% of Belgians shop for food online

It is true that Belgium at the moment still lags behind in comparison with our French, German or Dutch neighbours. Only 12% of Belgians buy food online, compared to 30% in France and 25% in Germany. Therefore, food e-commerce has not yet found its full place with us. And for good reason, the deadlock in the organization of labor in Belgium is slowing down this kind of development. “Companies have already tried for a long time to launch their food business online, but setting it up is very complicated”Dominique Michel, general manager of Comeos, the union responsible for Belgian shops and services, explains.

When a large structure, employing a few hundred or thousands of people, wants to change the way it operates, it takes years because “Our system goes back to the last century in social matters, in terms of systems”Dominic Michel points out. “We’ve seen it during the coronavirus crisis, and we’re seeing it now for all digital activity, it takes years. However, the digital one doesn’t wait. New ideas arrive every day, so we must have the potential to evolve and adapt more quickly.”continued.


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Therefore, these large Belgian chains do not have the possibility to adapt to today’s world, and as a result, foreign companies besiege the Belgian market and immediately provide us with these services. Hello Fresh is a good example of thisQuoted from the general manager of Comeos. This supplier from the Netherlands has surprised its turnover in recent years. Unfortunately, it is not a Belgian channel and it is not 100% Belgian labor and Dutch products. Is this the message we want to send to our farmers? That tomorrow or the day after tomorrow they will have less and less work because their products will be replaced by Dutch or French products?

For him, the main problem is the reform of the labor market. “Even if the government tried to make some small changes a few weeks ago, it is not enough. The small steps taken by the government must be multiplied and must be adjusted so that we can finally operate in Belgium as foreign countries do.” case now? Allow the Belgian players in the online food retail sector to develop as they wish, without falling into an outdated system as is the case today. “If we do not do this, we will in any case lead to an explosion of food trade online, as is the case in neighboring countries, except that a large part of this trade will go abroad”Dominique Michel regrets.

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The latter also congratulates Matteo’s initiative and encourages him to continue on this path. “We have to do this, we have no choice. This is what the consumer wants: he wants sustainable local products, from here … We should have this possibility, from Belgium, so that we can organize all that and not be invaded by operators from neighboring countries “he insists.

However, according to an economist we interviewed, the current trend in e-commerce hasn’t changed much for some time, yet “Incredible growth” After the health crisis: “What we’re seeing in most European countries is that this massive growth in e-commerce is now seeing a little pick up. We’re seeing the consumer coming back to physical stores, but Belgium, it’s rather in a reversal of that trend, a stagnation rather than a decrease”analyzes Pierre Alexandre Billet.

I think this is the future and there really is a place to get food home

Of course, this does not mean that the online food trade is in danger. exactly the contrary, “This trend will continue to exist.”according to the economist and professor at the Solvay Institute, but “at a lower speed”, notice. In 5 to 10 years, we expect food e-commerce to represent 20-30% of the market, according to our interviewer’s observations. And if Belgium seems to lag behind our neighbors today, it is also because our country has a large number of physical stores. Thus, alternatives such as home delivery of food items are not an absolute necessity for the residents. “We have roughly one store for every 3,500 Belgians. We are one of the densest countries in Europe in terms of physical stores. So this is not a delay in terms of e-commerce but simply a less developed consumer necessity”says Pierre Alexandre Billet.

Despite all this, this economist also emphasizes the project created by the 24-year-old Chumontois. “I believe that this is the future and that there really is a place for this home food delivery. But above all, it is essential that the framework on a political and economic level supports development in a sustainable way. I think that this delay we are talking about is still an asset today and should make Some things can be questioned. But we have to find the answers now.”Concludes.

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