As the end of the year approaches we have entered what I like to call the “list season” you know – top ten lists, trend lists and general predictions from all around this globe. This first list comes from the trade magazine Supermaket News. 2012 Food Trends to Watch is written by Phil Lempert The Supermarket Guru. He is the food trends editor and correspondent for NBC News’ Today show, where he reports on consumer trends, food safety and money-saving tips, as well as showcases new products. He makes monthly appearances on ABC’s The View, and has appeared numerous times on The Oprah Winfrey Show, 20/20, CNN, CNBC, Discovery Health and MSNBC, as well as on local television morning and news programs throughout the country. Lempert is also contributing editor of Supermarket News; as well as a content partner with SN which includes custom consumer surveys and other projects. He has been profiled and interviewed by USA Today, The New York Times, The Christian Science Monitor, The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Newsweek and Ad Age , and is interviewed by hundreds of publications each year.
How will these trends impact your Private Brands and your customers?
2012 Food Trends to Watch
2011 brought us higher food prices at unprecedented levels, crops and livestock destroyed by global weather catastrophes, nations at war over the lack of food supplies, and more food recalls from unique points of origin. Americans love their foods – in supermarkets, on television, at restaurants and now even on their mobile phones – we are a nation obsessed with food trucks, molecular gastronomy and struggling to eat as local as we can. All of which has built a foundation for what may be one of the most exciting – and game-changing years in the food world: Welcome to Food 2012.
Trend #1: Food Prices
There is little doubt that in the coming years, we will continue to see food prices rise based on environmental conditions as well as higher production costs. The costs of fuel, feed, packaging, food safety coupled with a higher demand for export all will factor into the retail price on the shelf. Many of the savings tactics most shoppers deployed in 2007 as the recession began are still being used each time they shop for groceries – using coupons, frequent shopper cards, shopping lists, shopping at non-traditional foods stores and even trading down their choices to less expensive brands are part of the regular routine. Look for consumers to shave costs by augmenting their recipes by decreasing the amount of the more expensive meats and seafood and adding more non-meat proteins that are filling and less expensive, including whole-wheat pasta, tofu, lentils, brown rice and vegetables to recipe.
Look for supermarkets to offer “lay-away” plans for larger purchases including holiday dinners that are tied into frequent shopper plans and offer bonus discounts (put $200 in your lay-away fund and store adds 10% bonus) and resurrect the bargain bins from the bygone department store era for deeply discounted opportunistic buys to compete with the dollar stores and outlets. Expect shoppers to use their mobile devices to calculate a price per portion cost rather than the unit price of individual products listed on the shelves. Just as the younger generation uses social networking as part of their everyday lives, expect this generation to be the “forever frugal consumer” using more coupons (higher than any other demographic) and searching for deals on line (63% spend 3 hours or more each week – double that of any other group). Besides saving money, perhaps this will even force Americans to finally slim down.
Trend #2: Never Shop or Eat Alone Again
The rise of food blogs has set a foundation for group food experiences. Food trucks tweet their locations and flash food raves assemble underground at midnight. And it is not about the food. It is about connection, conversation and a sense of community. It is estimated that 30% of today’s U.S. workforce is made up of independents – as a result they have a greater desire to be in a shared food experience — “let’s meet and eat” if you will.
Apps like Foursquare, GoWalla, Living Social and Yelp have shown how “group” is better than “self.” Expect to see super food apps that bring previously unknown people together with common likes; to eat, prepare and shop together. Organic and coordinated through these apps, these communities will emerge based on specific channels of food interest (e.g., Greek foods, raw foods, beef, vegetarian, gluten-free) versus the communities of old built around similar demographics or socio-economic traits.
One key to success will be embracing LoSoPhoMo — mobile marketing enhanced by the location, social and camera features of mobile devices. Expect the next app updates to include “social rewards” for these groups who shop together — much like the original concept of warehouse clubs – offering steep discounts for its members.
Trend #3: The Baby Boomers keep right on truckin’
The generation of 76 million who started turning 65 years old last year will control 52% of the total $706 billion spend on groceries by 2015 – making them the largest food influencers and purchasers. The Baby Boom generation (which comprises shoppers aged 48 to 65) is expected to have a longer average lifespan — 74.1 years for men and 79.5 years for women — and as a result are becoming more interested in those foods and beverages that offer them health and wellness benefits. Nostalgia plays a key role with this generation, and expect to see more icons such as Cheech & Chong (now hawking Fiber One), Pan Am and all 60s music tracks leading this generation to new and old brands and into the supermarket. Boomers are much more brand and store loyal. Expect supermarkets to cater to the Boomers, not only by offering the foods, beverages and services to satisfy their growing interest (and need) for health — but to take a good look at the physical shopping experience, to make sure that the aisles are wide, to lower the shelves and most importantly to make them feel welcome and respected.