Survey: Consumers shift approach to buying food

by Bryan Salvage
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MADISON, WI — The biggest impact on consumer lifestyles these days continues to be the stressed economy, according to the International Dairy Deli Bakery Association (I.D.D.B.A.). Consumers’ approach to buying food is shifting as they try to save money on grocery and restaurant purchases. At the same time, some are switching to more healthful foods in hopes of saving on health-care costs.

In the next five years, consumer shopping trends with the most impact will be the demand for low prices, health and wellbeing, convenience, sustainability and food safety and quality, according to “What’s in Store 2010”, the trends report from I.D.D.B.A.

The current economic recession has created a domestic and global realignment that hasn’t been seen in many decades. World consumption is slowing — especially in developed countries — due to a shift from consumption to savings. To differentiate products, the focus will be on real value, not perceived value.

U.S. buying power was estimated at $10.7 trillion for 2008 and projected to $14 trillion for 2013. The approximately 76 million Baby Boomers have an estimated buying power of more than $2 trillion. But with the economic downturn, a shift is being seen from a trade-up culture to a trade-off culture.

Key food shopper behaviors in the new economy include advance preparation to determine best value, comparing unit prices, limiting purchases of premium products and moving to store brands for a better price. Surveys across the board show that consumers are eating at home more often.

If current trends continue, 86% of the adult American population will be overweight or obese by 2030. Childhood obesity rates are expected to hit 40% by 2012. In Europe today, it’s 35%. But many consumers are heeding medical advice and paying closer attention to their diets. Health and wellness will be a significant driver of consumer behavior for the next decade. The most sought-after package health claims are whole grains, high fiber, low-fat, low sodium, absence of trans fats and low sugar. Consumers also want products with antioxidants, dietary fiber, omega-3, and probiotics.

“What’s in Store 2010” details consumer and industry trends affecting the dairy case, cheese case, bakery, deli, and foodservice supermarket departments. The full report is available from I.D.D.B.A. The cost is $99 for I.D.D.B.A. members and $399 for non-members, plus shipping and handling. Purchasers of the report also gain online access to quarterly random weight sales data throughout the year. For more information, or to order, call the I.D.D.B.A. Education Department at (608) 310-5000 or visit the organization’s web site, www.iddba.org.
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