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Food Trends to Impact Retail in 2013

December 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.

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