The updated USDA dietary guidelines — in conjunction with technological advancements and the First Lady's ‘Let's Move’ program — will mark 2011 as the year that finally empowers Americans to make permanent, positive changes in their diets. People will stop lasering in on single nutrients and begin approaching food more holistically. Shoppers will circle the aisles seeking foods rich in substance, vitamins, minerals and, of course, taste.
The “New” Customer Service: It's all about food apps as technology allows for the ultimate in-store information experience. A scan of the bar code tells your shoppers everything they need to know to decide what to buy. Expect instant messages to replace the PA system of yesteryear with specials that last for a maximum of a half-hour targeting a shopper's specific likes and dislikes and offering huge savings.
The “New” Nutritional Guidelines: While devoid of any startling recommendations, they will be the spark for changes:
Look for simplified ingredient statements.
The produce department changes dramatically as supermarkets and farmers start adding stickers directly on pieces of produce that highlight the meaningful vitamins, minerals, fiber and especially omega-3's.
All-natural claims are out as shoppers seek substance nutritionally as well as on sustainability.
The “New” Food Store: Food stores to continue to get smaller (10,000-13,000 square feet) — as the economy continues to sputter — with fewer employees, but more affordable mainstream prepared-food and service departments. These stores will be owned by both independents and chains, become pervasive in the hippest downtown areas of major cities where the new emerging workforce — and aging Baby Boomers — are moving.
The “New” Vitamin — Vitamin D: Supported by medical research that shows vitamin D deficiencies in Americans, look for naturally occurring vitamin D to be touted everywhere. Also, milk will make a big comeback with kids and adults, and this time around it's all about “white,” as flavored, colored and sweet milks make their way out.
The “New” Free Sample: Food brands sample products in-store before they hit the market in order to curb the new-product introduction failure rate. The impact of store brands woke up CPG and we can expect more meaningful thought and customer input. Forget brand extensions as CPG battle it out with true innovations. Expect fewer new-product introductions but more successes.
The “New” Social Responsibility: Consumers will recognize and commit to social responsibilities — especially reducing hunger in the U.S. and abroad and advocating the humane treatment of animals. At retail, there will be a greater emphasis placed on companies and their charitable partnerships. 2011 will be about building stronger connections to companies who support charities like Feeding America.
So there it is… What are your thoughts on how the food world may change in 2011?
Phil Lempert is contributing editor of Supermarket News and CEO of The Lempert Report and SupermarketGuru.com.