Millennials are killing canned tuna, but the industry is fighting back

Bumble Bee Chunk Light Tuna in Oil

Geri Lavrov | Getty Images
Bumble Bee Chunk Light Tuna in Oil

Another one bites the dust. This time, millennials are killing canned tuna, according to a Wall Street Journal report.

Consumption of canned tuna has dropped 42 percent per capita from the last 30 years through 2016, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture data. And the industry places the blame on younger consumers, who want fresher or more convenient options.

“A lot of millennials don’t even own can openers,” Andy Mecs, the vice president of marketing and innovation for Starkist, said to the Journal.

The struggle of the three largest canned tuna companies, StarKist, Bumble Bee Foods and Chicken of the Sea International, mirrors that of others in the packaged food industry, like Campbell Soup and Kraft Heinz. Younger consumers are turning away from processed foods, and new competitors are catering to changing tastes faster than the industry’s giants.

To Ken Harris, managing partner at Cadent Consulting Group, the bigger picture is about convenience.

“In the last 15 years, can openers became passe,” Harris told CNBC.

Harris, who has worked with canned tuna businesses, believes that the traditional companies have fallen behind because it’s a low-margin business and investing in packaging falls low on the list of priorities. The main priority for canned tuna companies now, according to Harris, should be packaging that makes it easy to remove and drain the tuna.

StarKist started re-thinking its product line-up in earnest about three to five years ago when the decline of tuna accelerated, Mecs said in an interview with CNBC. He remembered reading a newspaper article a few years ago about millennials recoiling from cereal because the bowl had to be cleaned. For him, the story reiterated how much consumers care about convenience.

Upstarts like Wild Planet Foods and Safe Catch market their tuna as safer and higher quality and are slowly eating into the big three’s market share, the Journal said. According to Nielsen data as of October, smaller brands (not including private labels) control 6.3 percent of the market, up from 3.7 percent in 2014, the Journal said.

To stage a comeback, the traditional tuna makers are taking a page from those brands. Bumble Bee and StarKist both have premium brands that they market as sustainable.

They’re also focusing on the products that are working. Tuna pouches don’t require a can opener, and StarKist told CNBC that sales of its pouches are increasing by 20 percent annually. For the first time, the Pittsburgh-based company sold more pouches than their most popular can size in 2018.

Kroger’s Home Chef, a meal-kit company, has partnered with the tuna brand to put its yellowfin tuna pouches in kits next year.

Bumble Bee and StarKist have also turned to flavors favored by millennials, like sriracha.

Chicken of the Sea is pitching it to younger consumers as a snack. The San Diego-based company started selling resealable cups of its flavored tuna this summer.

Bumble Bee and Chicken of the Sea weren’t immediately available for comment when CNBC reached out.

[“source=cnbc”]

Reliance JioMoney Could Well Be a Disruptor, but Not Just Yet

Reliance JioMoney Could Well Be a Disruptor, but Not Just YetReliance JioMoney Could Well Be a Disruptor, but Not Just Yet

HIGHLIGHTS

  • JioMoney is Reliance Jio’s digital wallet
  • You can use it to recharge your accounts or pay offline
  • Login issues plagued our usage over the whole week

Reliance Jio wants to empower 10 million merchants to make digital transactions. The JioMoney appwas supposed to roll out to merchants last week, while Jio users have of course been using it for recharges and P2P payments for a lot longer, ever since the test rollout started almost a year ago now.

At the announcement for Jio Money earlier this month, Reliance Industries Chairman Mukesh Ambani talked about how every Indian now has a digital money wallet linked to their bank account. He spoke about Aadhaar based micro-ATMs at Jio’s eKYC enabled stores. Ambani laid out a massive vision for JioMoney, one that could well disrupt the rapid development we’re seeing in the fintech world.

The ground reality is a little different though – we’ve been using the JioMoney app for a week now – or trying to anyway – and our finding is that much like JioCinema and JioMusic, the JioMoney experience is very much a work in progress at this point.

Both of those apps have been tweaked since we reviewed them, and some of the early problems have been resolved, while a few others still remain. A re-branding also involved a rethink of the UX, which was very welcome. Conceivably, it’s possible that Reliance Jio will put JioMoney through the same kind of process as well, because as of now on day one, or rather week one, there’s no doubt that this kind of re-imagining is required.

jio in app jio_in_app

First up, let’s talk about something basic – logging in. To log in, enter your Jio number and password, and then verify your date of birth. This worked a couple of times, and did not work on many other occasions. In short, simply logging in to JioMoney to start using the app is a frustrating challenge, as there are frequent “Error processing request” messages, which is not helped by the fact that – as a genuinely welcome security measure – you can only attempt to verify your account a set number of times per hour.

Once you actually get into the app, there are all the usual options – the design looks a little clunky right now, but that’s true for all of Jio’s apps during their early days, and like we mentioned earlier, there’s hope that this will eventually change. The app lets you send or request money, pay bills and recharges, pay at a shop, along with a section for coupons, and for giving to charity. The last of these is unusual but that notwithstanding, the offerings are pretty much in line with the industry. You should be able to use the app to pay your Jio bills as well, whenever that comes into effect.

Recharges are a smooth process, with little or no issue as long as you’re able to get into the app. You can recharge other prepaid phone connections, DTH connections, gas payments, and so on. You can transfer money to a bank account using IMPS by using its IFSC code and account number. You can use this to take your money out of Jio as well.

jio barcode jio_barcode

Pay at shop via the Reliance JioMoney app requires you to enter the seller’s phone number or scan a code, after which you enter your mPIN to authorise the transaction. This seems to be a workable way of doing this, but unlike other wallets, whose stickers now emblazon shop after shop, it’s very hard to know where you actually can use JioMoney. Although we were very hopeful that we’d have stories to share about using it in the real world, the sad fact is that all of our transactions – in between many logouts and request processing errors – took place online.

In contrast, we’ve used several other digital wallets throughout the week, to buy everyday items, pay for conveyance, and to grab a bite. A week is too short a time to expect Jio to be massively visible of course, but given Ambani’s pledge of reaching 10 million merchants very soon, it’s going to have to pick up the pace very quickly.

[“Source-gadgets.ndtv”]

Saudi Lifts Ban on WhatsApp, Skype Calls but Will Monitor and Censor Them

Saudi Lifts Ban on WhatsApp, Skype Calls but Will Monitor and Censor Them

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Saudi government is lifting a ban on calls made through online apps
  • Apps like WhatsApp, Skype, Messenger, and Viber will become accessible
  • Saudi government will keep a check on these VoIP services

The Saudi government is lifting a ban on calls made through online apps such as Skype and WhatsAppon Thursday as part of its economic reforms, but a spokesman said it will monitor and censor such calls.

All online voice and video call services – such as Microsoft’s Skype, Facebook’s WhatsApp and Messenger, and Rakuten’s Viber – that satisfy the kingdom’s regulatory requirements, were set to become accessible.

Lifting the ban is part of the Saudi government’s broader reforms of the economy to help boost businesses and diversify the economy in response to low oil prices.

Adel Abu Hameed, a spokesman for telecoms regulator CITC, said on Arabiya TV on Wednesday that new regulations aimed to protect users’ personal information and block content that violated the kingdom’s laws.

Asked if the apps could be monitored by the authorities or companies, he said: “Under no circumstances can the user use an application for video or voice calling without monitoring and censorship by the Communications and Information Technology Commission, whether the application is global or local.”

It was unclear how the authorities can monitor apps such as WhatsApp, which says its messages are supported by end-to-end encryption, meaning the company cannot read customers’ messages even if approached by law enforcement agencies.

Internet communications have become widespread but Saudi Arabia began blocking them from 2013, wary that such services could be used by activists.

The “Arab Spring” mass protests in 2011 were often organised over the Internet, though Gulf Arab states, except the island kingdom of Bahrain, mostly escaped the uprisings.

The decision to lift the blocks could negatively impact Saudi Arabia’s three main telecoms operators – Saudi Telecom Co (STC), Etihad Etisalat (Mobily) and Zain Saudi – which earn the bulk of their revenue from international phone calls made by the millions of expatriates living in the kingdom.

Zain Saudi’s CEO, Peter Kaliaropoulos, told Reuters some lost income could be recouped through expansion of its own data services.

“The Saudi market has a strong appetite for faster data throughput and higher data use packages,” he said in an email. “The opportunity to monetize the extra data usage will partially offset voice revenue losses”.

[“Source-gadgets.ndtv”]

Cash Is Culture in India, but It’s Not Going to Be the Future

Cash Is Culture in India, but It’s Not Going to Be the Future

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Cash is not just the norm but also embedded in culture
  • New systems like mPOS terminals are making digital more convenient
  • Apps like BHIM help bring payments from India to Bharat as a whole

In India, cash is culture. It’s everywhere, inspiring Hindi film songs, being doled out by loving grandparents, occupying a key role in religious rituals, and even fuelling a parallel economy. So resistance to any alternative method of payment is only to be expected.

This is amply evident from the way digital transactions, which had spiked from 672 million in November 2016 to 958 million in December 2016 because of demonetisation, plummeted to 763 million (February 2017) once the new currency came back in circulation, as per RBI data. The latest numbers show some growth, but it’s a far cry from the peak in December even now.

It’s a challenge that Digital India is up for. Driving the shift from cash to digital payments are a host of factors – a huge population of young, aspiring people embracing the digital lifestyle, the “India Stack” of four technology layers (presenceless, paperless, cashless, consent), and a robust real-time payments infrastructure in which the Unified Payments Interface (UPI) is the crown jewel. But beyond doubt, policies such as banning the use of cash for transactions amounting to Rs. 200,000 or more are also making an impact. In his budget speech this year, the Minister of Finance announced a mission tasked with achieving 25 billion digital transactions in the year 2017-18 through various means including Aadhaar Pay, UPI, USSD, IMPS, and debit cards.

payment systems

That’s a tall order for an economy where 98 percent of consumer payments are still made in cash. Before this can happen though, several barriers lie in the way. The “cash habit” is at the top of the list, followed by the complexity of using digital payment methods.

Cash is easy
The second factor is telling. A huge reason why cash still rules as a medium of exchange is that it is simple and convenient. Digital payment mechanisms, which might be convenient in some ways – (they save a trip to the bank and are easy to carry around) – are actually less convenient at the point of use. To understand this, visualise the process of using a mobile wallet – log in, authenticate yourself, scan code, enter amount, authorise payment – and now compare it to the ease of handing out cash.

Currently, there is friction on both sides of the digital payment transaction. The abundance of payment options with their different POS hardware and procedures is confusing merchants, who don’t know where to draw the line. This isn’t making life simpler for consumers either.

Clearly, digital payments must become frictionless before they can find mass acceptance.

mpos machine eze

Technology and innovation can do much to facilitate that. For instance, Ezetap has introduced a mobile-based payments acceptance device that merchants can use for all types of digital payments. Another good example is Tonetag, one of our partner firms, which has found an alternative solution to NFC technology with a communication mechanism that uses sound waves. Merchants can even accept cards in much the same way as before; customers need to authorise the payment like they do with NFC, with a swipe, password or OTP.

Ezetap, Tonetag, and others like them reduce the friction in payments, but they don’t eliminate it altogether. Some other forces need to come together to make digital payments as convenient as cash.

Bharat, and not just India
One of these is the digitisation of low-income consumers, which received a shot in the arm when the BHIM app was launched a couple of months after demonetisation with the goal of enabling those with a bank account but no cards, to make digital payments. Another factor is the growth of e-commerce players, who, by accepting card or wallet payments on delivery, have eased even reluctant cash customers into digital payments. The next level of e-commerce, namely smart commerce, will drive digital payments even higher, using AI and analytics to spur consumption.

bhim full

To see what that looks like, you need only look to Amazon, which has mastered the use of consumer analytics to anticipate needs, personalise recommendations, or simply remind customers of something they had shown interest in.

These forces are still brewing at present. When they take firm hold, India will make more meaningful progress towards digital payments. While the timeline for that is uncertain, once the conditions fall into place, the shift from cash to digital will be swift and irreversible.

Venkatramana Gosavi is Senior Vice President and Regional Head, Infosys Finacle, and has been working with Finacle for over 15 years now.

[“Source-gadgets.ndtv”]