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Venturing into the great unknown

There’s something inherently special about this industry: a whole ecosystem that revolves around feeding human beings, taking care of them

Hi, I’m new here. Both to these pages and to this industry. But I’m certainly not new to grocery shopping. There’s something inherently special about this industry: a whole ecosystem that revolves around feeding human beings, taking care of them. I felt that as a kid going grocery shopping with my mom, and I still feel it today when my fridge is stocked: all those beautiful foods and colors staring back at me. I am taking care of myself, and I’m gazing upon a true bounty. I am lucky, I know, to be able to take care of myself in this way. I am grateful.

I’m writing this from the Groceryshop convention in Las Vegas, having just been immersed head to toe in this industry for several days. The words on people’s minds and tongues out here? Inflation. Direct-to-consumer. E-commerce. Workplace silos. And another prominent theme? 

“Not knowing.” 

Chloe Riley 2.jpg

SN Executive Editor Chloe Riley.

CEOs from DoorDash to Casey’s to Walmart and Whole Foods all admitted: We don’t really know. Where exactly things are headed. When (or if) inflation will lift. But they’re moving forward anyway. And they’re listening. The takeaways with direct-to-consumer, for instance: It’s not anybody’s cash cow yet by any means, but these customers are their most engaged by far (and often spend ten times what an average customer spends in a year.) But that customer also gravitates towards new products, premium offerings. Loyalty. And both grocery stores and CPG are leaning in to provide what that power customer wants. 

Another prominent theme at Groceryshop? How happy everyone was to be back in person. Many VPs noted it was their first time at the convention. One meet and greet I had was delayed slightly — I watched as the man I was there to connect with wrapped up his conversation with another man, and then the two earnestly shook hands. I’m sorry for the delay, the man told me, but I’ve been in conversation with that man for years now and we’ve never actually met. We talk regularly about our kids, our families…and that’s the first time I’ve met him in person.

We don’t know. Is that perhaps the ultimate takeaway? We don’t know and so let’s shake hands with vigor, lean way in. Listen. Clearly that’s the headspace the grocery industry is in right now, and I know that’s what I'm doing in this new role too. I invite you to please reach out. Say hi. Give a hearty handshake. I’m listening.

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