ORLANDO, Fla. — Retailers need to think about global food trends in terms of the whole store, not just a “dusty ethnic aisle,” said Laurie Demeritt of The Hartman Group, in a presentation at the Food Marketing Institute’s Future Connect conference here on Tuesday.
“Consumers are learning about new cuisines, and new ways to cook, and they are looking to you for help,” she told the audience of food retailers and suppliers. Ethnic foods involve the whole store, she pointed out, including not only the dry grocery aisles in Center Store, but also perishables. In fact the refrigerated section of the supermarket holds a lot of potential for growth, she said, citing a fragmented supplier base and the growing need for convenient foods that are easy to prepare or are already partially prepared.
Highlighting data from a study by The Hartman Group for FMI, Demeritt noted consumers are becoming much more interested in learning about their food, and in being involved with its preparation, as evidenced by a growing interest in things like classes in how to butcher an animal, for example.
Other trends that are impacting the way consumers eat are increasing concerns about health — on more than half of snacking occasions, consumers seek out healthy solutions — and an increasing interest in specialized foods, such as gluten-free product.
“People are eating in a more thoughtful way,” Demeritt explained.
People are also increasingly seeing images of prepared foods online and through social media, and then seeking the recipes.
“They fall in love with an image and then work backwards to figure out how to prepare it,” Demeritt explained.
Among some of the findings presented:
• 77% of eating occasions involve at least some pre-prepared foods.
• 42% of eating occasions involve all pre-prepared foods.
• 54% of consumers use social media to discover and share food experiences.
• 42% of consumers use social media to get advice about food.
Read more: SN's 2013 Future Connect coverage
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