Food Trends to Impact Retail in 2013

Dec 21, 2012

With the end of the year around the corner, "SupermarketGuru" Phil Lempert released his annual food trends predictions for 2013. Here’s a summary of the predictions:

We Stop Wasting Food – The National Resources Defense Council estimates that 40 percent of food in the U.S. goes uneaten and Americans discard 50 percent more food than in the 1970s. In the UK, a public awareness program began five years ago and includes over 50 leading food retailers and CPG brands.

Snacking and Mini-Meals Lead the Way to Smaller Portion Sizes – Studies show people who eat more frequent, smaller meals may have a more nutrient-dense diet. Hectic lifestyles and groups such as Millennials and Hispanics are driving the trend.

Boomer Reality: Diabetes, High Blood Pressure and Heart Disease – Boomers should control over half the dollars spent on grocery by 2015 and, while individualistic, are looking to eat healthier as a group. Conditions such as diabetes, coronary issues, and high blood pressure mean that heart healthy foods with high levels of antioxidants will sell better, especially many fresh produce items.

Protein: Not Just From Meat Anymore – Millennials eating less meat will drive a trend towards other sources of protein, such as peanut butter, Greek yogurt, tofu burgers, etc.

Breakfast Takes Center Stage – As noted benefits of eating breakfast rise, sales of healthy breakfast items such as smoothies, nut butters, fruit, whole grain bread and veggie omelets will rise.

Frozen Food Sales Heat Up – While frozen food sales are way down, that will change as more people eat alone, manufacturers tout "real food" ingredients and explain the freezing process better, increasing variety attracts Millennials, and Hispanics continue as heavy users.

Males Shop and Cook More – With studies indicating fathers are often the primary grocery shoppers and doing more meal planning, some supermarkets are trying "man-aisles" and more men are enjoying food preparation.

Mobile Next Gen – Forty-three percent of cell phone users in the U.S. now have smartphones, and food shoppers are using them to prepare lists, compare prices, find recipes, check sales and get nutritional info. As smartphone apps get smarter and connect with kitchen appliances, the next generation of apps will be able to test whether foods are really organic or have specific ingredients in them.

Millennials Become Retailers – Retail hasn’t been a great place to work, in terms of salary. But, with the economy still slumping and Millennials having a hard time finding work, this is a good time for retailers who value top employees, such as Costco and Trader Joe’s, to snap them up. Since Millennials are food-centric and food-loving, this could be a great time for supermarkets to "make them an offer
they can’t refuse."

Transparency About Who Makes Our Food – Consumers want to know more about where their food comes from as they make an effort to understand the stories behind what they eat. Supermarket products with a more "traditional" heritage are doing well, such as Greek yogurt, grass-fed beef, free-range chicken, artisanal versions of many products and antibiotic-free dairy.

In short, nothing is simple anymore. Information is widely available today on almost anything a consumer wishes to research. With the rise in available information, consumers want to know more about what they eat, what the potential health benefits are, and how it all affects our planet. Wise supermarket operators will cater to a better-informed consumer, which means no more "one size fits all" stores, product selection, marketing, or customer service.

What food/food shopping trend do you think will be most important in 2013? How should supermarket operators change in order to capitalize on the above-mentioned trends?

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10 Comments on "Food Trends to Impact Retail in 2013"

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Joan Treistman

Here’s the trend I’m keeping my eye on: Snacking and Mini-Meals Lead the Way to Smaller Portion Sizes. It applies to every member of the family, singles and retirees. Fresh foods and packaged goods have the opportunity to enter these categories. Health news will reinforce that shoppers can meet their nutritional needs, hunger pangs and taste desires at one low price.

Supermarkets have several aisles that showcase these items which brings consumers around the store where they can pick up other products as well. Yes, I’d keep my eye on this prize and make sure shoppers get an eyeful as well.

Adrian Weidmann

As a baby boomer myself, there are several food and shopping trends outlined that are already part of our household. I hope that as a society we stop wasting the mass quantities of food. Grocers should join or initiate programs along with restaurants and school cafeterias to provide food recovery initiatives for local food shelves, the homeless and needy (Refer to the Emerson Good Samaritan Food Donation Act).

There are far too many people in our country that need nutritious food. As a society, we consume and waste far too much—including food. Jonathan Bloom has written a book entitled ‘American Wasteland’ that provides insight on this topic.

Max Goldberg

With Boomers accounting for 50% of the dollars spent in grocery stores, I see a greater demand for transparency in labeling and for healthier foods.

I hope that Americans will cut down on wasted food. It’s a shame to see so much good food being thrown away.

Finally, I think smart phones will continue to change the way people shop. From making grocery lists, to self checkout, loyalty programs, coupons and augmented reality, smart phones will impact every aspect of retail and consumer interaction.

Cathy Hotka

All of these are important, and I’d add another—the importance of ethnic food ingredients. Grocers are stocking ingredients for home cooks to include Thai and Indian flavors. The continuing popularity of gourmet cooking shows is changing American diners’ expectations of what they can create.

judith nees
judith nees
4 years 9 months ago

The food trend I think will be most prevalent is the consumer shopping for “back to basics.” These items will include more fresh vegetables, fruits, leaner meats, and more grains to make homemade meals instead of the quick “TV” types, which are more costly and have more sodium than needed.

Gene Hoffman
Gene Hoffman
4 years 9 months ago

The perceived trend will be food inflation.

Retailers—manufacturers too—will seek ways to give less and charge more just like what has happened to the 29 cent per pound chicken, the 10 cent cup of coffee and the 5 cent apple over past decades.

Carlos Arambula

The impact of pluralism in our culture, especially for the major urban centers and by the Millennials, was left off the list.

America’s flavor palate has changed. Spices and food products from Mexico are being adopted by the country (no, not taco shells or other “Americanized” versions of the food, but the real thing). While Mexican flavors are most visible, Asian food stuffs (from Korea to Indian), are becoming more commonplace.

Ken Lonyai

No disrespect to Phil, but I believe his first three points are admirable yet wishful thinking. I do not see them happening anytime soon. Food transparency: there’s definitely an interest in that, but realistically, much of it is lip service. Prop 37 was defeated (by a small margin) because Monsanto, their licensees, and food companies being boycotted here are fighting transparency and will step up their efforts in 2013.

Food/shopping apps are definitely an upward trend but “…connect with kitchen appliances …test whether foods are really organic or have specific ingredients”—not happening in any real way anytime soon.

So yes, food brands/retailers really need to embrace mobile in ways that are effective for their customers and not for technology sake. Doing so will also dovetail with Phil’s point about attracting Millennials so long as retailers do more than let them carry mobile devices and make efforts to guide them into meaningful careers that leverage their life experiences.

Stan Barrett
Stan Barrett
4 years 9 months ago

Healthier options for children/teens. “Openness” of palates to different ethnic cuisines.
I am especially intrigued by the frozen food sector. Many high quality products (for assembly) and for entire meals. Let’s face it—AFFI should do an analysis for all the carbon/organic footprinters out there. Are frozen blueberries from USA in December a “better” buy than “fresh” blueberries from the Southern hemisphere?

Looking for an easy and interesting holiday read? Amazon has Clarence Birdseye’s bio available. A story of a true pioneer, it will show how far frozen foods have come.

Carol Spieckerman

I’ll throw in another one: I don’t know that enough attention is being paid to the impact that the warming trend is having, and will have, on food. Not just on the supply—everything from crop yields to transportation—but also on purchasing patterns. Is the soup category really suffering from lack of innovation, for example?


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