The following information is a Web Extra from the pages of Top Producer. It corresponds with the article "The Future of the Food Industry." You can find the article in Top Producer’s September 2013 issue.
Moving forward, convenience is the No. 1 factor consumers take into consideration when choosing what and where to purchase, says Jeremy Russell, North American Meat Association. And price closely follows convenience.
Russell says innovation will stem from new packing technologies and combining convenience with freshness.
While convenience is a luxury, food safety is not, explains Charlie Arnott, Center for Food Integrity CEO, who says food safety is the No. 1 concern consumers have.
"There is a growing interest in on-farm food safety programs – whether it’s producing wheat, milk or eggs," he says.
Last year, 89% of consumers reported they are mostly or completely confident that foods available in grocery stores are safe, according to a U.S. Grocery Shopper Trends report by the Food Marketing Institute. In comparison 78% of consumers are mostly or completely confident in the safety of restaurant foods. Consumer confidence in food safety at grocery stores was at its lowest, 67%, in 2007.
The report shows the grocery shoppers continue to trust domestic food more than international food. Consumers’ confidence in food grown or produced in the U.S. is 97%, Canada is 93%, Africa is 34% and China is 33%.
One criterion that has changed is consumers’ focus on value. Today, shoppers are more focused on value than at any time in recent past.
"The customer has changed forever and I think our business has," says one executive who was interviewed during the study. "Because of the economy, shoppers have really started looking for value and they are going to keep doing that."
The study concludes "Consumers in every demographic category, even those whose financial status was not significantly affected by the downturn, made changes in their spending and displayed behaviors demonstrating a new economic sensitivity and awareness. Even now, when the economy is steadily improving, 42% of consumers remain convinced it is getting worse."
Technology and E-commerce were other areas with significant changes during the last several years. More and more, consumers will use technology to compare prices and offerings to find the best value without ever leaving their home.