OMAHA – More Americans will eat at home in the coming year due to a continued desire to save money, and consumers will rely even more on technology to shop for bargains and make community connections, predicts Phil Lempert, the Supermarket Guru. Lempert, who works closely with ConAgra Foods and its retailers, sees an interesting year ahead regarding food trends.

Lempert predicts the following 10 major trends for 2012:

  • Environmental conditions and higher production costs will result in rising food prices in 2012. As a result, consumers will place an even heavier emphasis on the use of printable grocery coupons, frequent shopper cards and shopping lists, while also shopping at non-traditional food stores and trading down to less expensive options as part of their regular routine. Consumers will augment their recipes to decrease costs and supermarkets will resurrect the bargain bin and to offer "layaway" plans for large purchases, including holiday dinners. Expect shoppers to use their mobile devices to calculate a price-per-portion cost rather than the unit price.
  • The increasing number of food blogs has set a foundation for group experiences. People will embrace mobile marketing enhanced by the location, social and camera features of mobile devices. App updates will include "social rewards" for groups who shop together – much like the original concept of warehouse clubs – offering steep discounts for its members.
  • The 76 million Baby Boomers who started turning 65 last year will become the largest food influencers and purchasers, controlling 52 percent of the total $706 billion spent on groceries by 2015. Expect supermarkets to offer more healthful options.
  • More farmers are using blogs and social media to bring the story of the American farmer to consumers. Expect to see more advertising and television programs starring farmers, as opposed to actors.
  • Many shoppers are learning to appreciate self-checkouts, comparing prices at nearby retailers, cellphone scanners, in-store interactive media devices, QR codes, RFID and mobile coupons.
  • Food trucks are replacing gourmet and specialty stores as the channel to experiment and discover new food experiences – especially regarding ethnic foods.
  • A study from Boston College Center for Work and Family found "today's dads associate being a good father just as much with the role of effective caregiver as the traditional role of breadwinner." The Bureau of Labor Statistics found that 41 percent of men are now doing the food preparation, as compared to half that amount in 2003. Look for them to do more of the grocery shopping.
  • More men and women will eat at home to save money.
  • Look for reduced sugar products to be the biggest health claim in the coming year, along with a revised Nutrition Facts panel on food.
  • Multisensory perception will be one of the new "food sciences" in 2012, as psychologists and food scientists join forces to design, create and influence the sounds of foods to convey freshness, taste and even health attributes.