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Changing demographics create new opportunities for food industry

Ronald Margulis reports from the FMI Conference in Chicago

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Today’s food shoppers understand the role choices play in their health, but they still struggle to make healthy choices. More than 80% of consumers share at least half the grocery shopping for the household. Half of shoppers consider themselves overweight and say they need motivation to eat better.

These were among the leading messages at Food Marketing Institute Connect (FMI) in Chicago, where retailers and manufacturers met to build opportunities to harness these trends, among others.

On health and nutrition, FMI reported shoppers are now buying more whole grain (43%), high fibre (41%), multigrain (39%), all-natural (38%), low sodium (33%) and whole foods (33%) than in recent years.

The conference’s exhibit floor backed these findings with several exhibitors promoting organic and all natural products, particularly private label.

There are dramatic changes in shopping patterns, FMI president, and CEO Leslie Sarasin said, “It’s a brave new world of grocery shoppers with nearly everyone getting in on the act of shopping for food.”

Sarasin identified three new types of shoppers that retailers need to cater to: single shoppers who make food purchases for themselves; co-shoppers representing a part of their household’s food shopping team; and shared shoppers who do shopping for multiple households.

FMI’s research suggests that parents want to have more family meals each week, with 71% saying that in an ideal world they would eat dinner with their kids every night. (Fifty-seven per cent say they do that.) Parents are looking to food retailers to help. New services that deliver all meal ingredients for preparation at home back this trend.

Other news from FMI Connect:

Ted Pigeon of Overwaitea Food Group in Victoria received the 2016 Store Manager Award in the International category. The award recognizes the achievements of top operators who invest in their communities.

Pigeon has focused on sound communications throughout his 36-year career at 15 different stores in nine B.C. communities. He increased sales by 12.7 per cent over the last year, improved productivity and minimized out-of-stocks.

FMI’s second-annual Power of Produce report reveals significant growth opportunities for fresh produce. At $61 billion in annual sales, the category is significant, growing (+4%) and lucrative with a grocery basket with fresh produce averaging nearly $30 more than one without.

The report shows several mega trends in produce, notably the demand for local, with 61% of shoppers wanting their produce department to stock more local items.

Next year’s event will be June 13 to 15 in Chicago. FMI will expand the Supermarket Chefs program and connect retailers to health, wellness and lifestyle tools and solutions. It will increase its focus on the technology of modern retailing and showcase consumer technology trends through thought leader presentations and innovative product demos.

FMI says it will also create a platform for the food start-up community, increase the numbers of organic and specialty exhibitors and incentivize a more diverse food retail audience by instituting a program that invites buyers to make efficient and effective pre-selected meetings for retailers to find the categories, product focus and services that they are seeking to meet their buying goals easily.

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