Systematic market watch at Colruyt Group

Colruyt Group

Colruyt Group is a family business that has grown over three generations into a retail group with more than 30.000 employees and a diverse portfolio of food and non-food formats, in Belgium, Luxembourg and France. Colruyt Group consists of over forty brands, most famous for food retailing, but also active in non-food, fuel, wholesale and food services. 

Sustainability runs through all activities as a common thread. Colruyt Group engages in major challenges and opportunities to protect natural resources and build thriving ecosystems through technology, innovation and new ways of collaboration.

Rapidly changing retail space

The world around us is changing rapidly and is growing more and more complex and unpredictable. The world is evolving from clear boundaries and demarcations to ‘blurring’ in various areas, including the traditional distinction between producer and consumer, brands and customers. Sectors such as pharmaceuticals, the food industry, the hotel and catering sector and retail are converging. 

The classic role of the retailer as a link in the chain is getting under pressure or is being disintermediated. On the supply side, brands will, where possible, eliminate the traditional ‘middleman’. In this way they save costs and meet the growing demand for price transparency, on-demand product variation and total consumer empowerment. On the demand side, consumers are increasingly transforming into ‘prosumers’ in a participative economy.

Systematic Market Watch

In recent years, Colruyt Group has diversified its offering, entered new markets (energy, health, fashion) and introduced product innovations (liquid ice, hydrogen, vertical farming, …).

The diversification strategy in a continuous evolving landscape requires accurate and data-driven insights into the state and the evolutions of society and markets combined with the capability to turn those insights into strategic, tactical and operational choices in line with the business strategy.

Colruyt Group has implemented Datascouts as a strategic instrument for systematic market watch in the domain of sustainable sea food. A systematic market watch, continuously monitoring the key players and major consumer, market and technology trends will give Colruyt a better understanding of the dynamics of the ecosystem and identify potential partners to strengthen their ecosystem.

CASE 1 – Mapping of the blue economY ecosystem

Colruyt Group strongly believes in the potential of the Belgian North Sea for the cultivation of local and sustainable marine proteins, such as mussels, oysters and seaweed, and in the important economic and social added value of aquaculture projects.

Together with other companies, knowledge institutions and government bodies, Colruyt Group laid the building blocks for the Belgian aquaculture sector. Accurate data and insights helps Colruyt to further develop the Belgian aquaculture ecosystem and take an active role in the field of research and innovation together with academic and technology partners.

Setting up a systematic market watch of the Blue Economy in Belgium started with thorough mapping and profiling all the stakeholders involved in the Blue Cluster and more specifically aquaculture in Belgium, with the ambition to monitor the heartbeat of the blue economy in Belgium. We combined the perspectives of the Engineering team, deeply involved in all activities linked to breeding and harvesting Belgian mussels in hanging cultures with the network of Public Relations, managing all (public) stakeholders involved in innovation projects and the application of the operating license for the sea farm in project zone C in the north sea. We made a benchmark with the Dutch ecosystem surrounding the Noordzeeboerderij and analysed the business models of sea farms and multi-use platforms in Norway, Ireland, France and the UK.

As the Belgian ecosystem for aquaculture emerges from the early adopters, Colruyt Group is interested in using DataScouts to identify strategic partners for building a vibrant cross-disciplinary ecosystem enabling a locally embedded sustainable value chain.

The focus for scouting partners is defined by the strategic goals linked to aquaculture and sustainable seafood incl.

  • Producing and harvesting mussels, oysters and seaweed at one place (off shore)
  • Developing multi-use platform incl. new business and operating models
  • Obtaining Natura 2020 goals incl. eco-tourism and education
  • Gaining efficiency through automation, incl. computer vision / drones / VR & AR

CASE 2 – land based acquaculture

Around the world, land-based aquaculture facilities are increasingly being considered as a more sustainable alternative to open-water fish farms. Based upon former research projects conducted by the Colruyt R&D team, RAS (recirculation aquaculture system) was identified as the most suitable technology.


Within the process of building and validating the business case, a deep dive was required to gain more insight about the dynamics and trends in the market and to build more complete picture of land-based aquaculture facilities across multiple products.


Using DataScouts, we mapped the various players along the value chain. We looked at both producers and breeding houses in Europe. We identified relationships between parties, joint research projects, patent publications, strategic collaborations, acquisitions and investments. This was done via a dedicated instance of the DataScouts Market Monitor to map stakeholders, profile the companies using (financial) company data, patent publications, funding information and relationship extraction & modelling.

The insights are translated into strategic recommendation. The platform allows the Business Analyst to refresh the data at any time and analyse the evolution over time. 

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