Changing consumer base seeks convenient foods

by Meat&Poultry Staff
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MADISON, Wis. – Value has a new meaning for recession-conditioned consumers. Quality, convenience and nutrition are factored into prices, particularly for the meals they’re more frequently preparing at home, according to What’s in Store 2011, the International Dairy-Deli-Bakery Association’s 25th annual trends report. Products are being tailored by food retailers and manufacturers to meet the needs of a more sophisticated consumer.

Broad-based economic and social fluctuations are manifest in the dairy, deli and bakery departments. Through 2014, the most impactful consumer trends are anticipated to be demand for low prices, health and wellbeing, convenience, sustainability and food safety and quality. The most important global industry trends through 2014 are expected to be increasing energy and commodity costs, pricing pressures, innovation and differentiation, sustainability and supply-chain efficiencies.

Health concerns are ever-present as food manufacturers and retailers make moves toward nutritious products, portion control and energy expenditure. At the same time, consumption growth is shifting to Generation X, Generation Y and Hispanics as Baby Boomers age and US fertility rates stall.

As shoppers shy away from steeper restaurant prices, but still relish high-quality, easy-to-assemble meals, delis are becoming the bridge between dining out and dining in. The deli prepared food category has grown to more than 50% of in-store deli sales in the last five years. Deli meat and cheese dollar shares have gradually declined, but are strong category mainstays at 24% (meats) and 19% (cheeses) of the supermarket deli business.

Grocery shoppers are opting to pick up grab-and-go meals from deli displays, stocked with classic and authentic entrées and sides to ensure a full dinner without restaurant costs or the time it takes to cook. Delis are also encountering demand for healthful salads and vegetables, such as tabbouleh, bean dishes and roasted vegetables at the service counter, pre-packed in self-service deli, or at olive bars. Exotic fare, such as Middle Eastern, Greek and Asian-inspired foods are also becoming more common fare as demographics continue to change in the US.

In the post-recession recovery, Generations X and Y are the consumers predicted to fuel economic growth. Gen X, aged 29 – 45 years, is 62-million consumers strong, with members in their prime earning (and spending) years, and three-quarters of them have young families. Gen Y, aged 10-28 years, has 85 million people and most do not have their own households; therefore, they have higher discretionary income. These generations will lead the spending charge, in contrast with Baby Boomers.

Although Boomers, aged 45-63 years, have 82 million people in their ranks, their wealth has decreased significantly, and their mindset is to save rather than spend. They are still a powerful consuming group, though, with the highest discretionary income.

Shoppers are sharpening their focus on value as far as shopping venue choice, so much that the market share of value-oriented formats, non-traditional grocery (supercenters, mass, wholesale clubs, dollar stores, military) will pass the traditional grocery (supermarkets, fresh format, limited assortment, and super warehouse) channel by 2017.
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