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Fresh foods opportunity isn’t one-size-fits-all: IRI

Fresh foods opportunity isn’t one-size-fits-all: IRI

Fresh foods are surging at retail, but the biggest opportunities lie in understanding key trends and avoiding a one-size-fits-all mentality.

That prescription came from two executives at Information Resources Inc. who unveiled new research about trends in a session at FMI Midwinter Executive Conference in Miami.

IRI's Steven Ramsey and Sally Lyons Watt
IRI's Steven Ramsey and Sally Lyons Watt

“Retailers that embrace the most important trends will drive outperformance relative to their peers,” said Steven Ramsey, EVP and practice leader, IRI.

He spoke during a session called “Top Trends in Fresh Foods,” which was part of the “Coffee With” sessions sponsored by FMI/GMA Trading Partner Alliance.

Five fresh food trends were presented as part of research spearheaded by IRI, FMI and FMI Fresh Executive Committee.

Three of those trends are driven by consumer demand: transparency, convenience and the digitally connected consumer. Two others are focused on the industry’s response: new supply chain, and prepared foods and specialty.

All of the trends will have impacts over the next three to five years across the perimeter of the store, Ramsey said.

Retailers were urged to diversify their responses based on the needs of different customer-base segments.

“It’s not one-size-fits-all,” said Sally Lyons Watt, EVP and practice leader, IRI. She pointed to the fresh-cut fruit category, part of the convenience trend, as an example. Spending rates vary widely based on factors such as income and education, she said. Retailers need to segment their customer bases according to potential spend on the category.

“You even need to know which households on a block buy differently,” she said.


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Categories surging from the transparency trend, such as antibiotic-free meat and organic produce, still have new opportunities to advance, Ramsey said. So far the growth has been heaviest in regions such as the Northwest, West Coast and Northeast. However, as retailers in other regions increase supplies there will be upticks in markets that haven’t participated yet, he explained.

Rick Stein, FMI’s VP of fresh foods, said the association plans to have annual presentations on the top trends. IRI and FMI will be hosting a series of monthly webinars on this topic from January to May.

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