The Food Journal and Food, Nutrition & Science

An alliance between The Lempert Report and The Center for Food Integrity

2009 Trend Watch with Bill King

2009 Trend Watch with Bill King

Shoppers and Trends

November 23, 2008

With a lifetime of experience in the food industry, Bill King got his start as a line cook at the original Phillip’s Crab House in Ocean City, Maryland. Today, as Vice President of Training and Culinary Development for McCormick and Schmick's, Bill King combines the duties of Corporate Chef with development of training systems, corporate purchasing, facility design, new restaurant opening and development and oversight for the company’s more than 80 restaurants. We asked King to make some predictions about the kinds of consumer shopping and eating habits we’ll see in 2009.

There is a trend for consumers to eat out less. What affect will that have on food and nutrition?
Whether people eat at home or out, I think the overall health consciousness of  the American dining public has increased substantially over the past two to three years. I think that trend will continue and even accelerate. While we are seeing a softness in the economy, there is no doubt that people enjoy eating out and delighting in their food.
Will the economy affect how consumers shop for groceries? How will their food choices change?
I hate to say it but price is driving decisions more and more. As tough times continue, people will make decisions with their wallets. That being said, I think the up side of this approach is that consumers are and will continue to be more demanding with respect to quality. We see more people using shopping lists and coupons – however, they are more particular in the foods they buy.
How can consumers save money without compromising nutrition?
I believe selecting more nutritional foods is more of a cultural, educational, philosophical and habitual decision than a financial one. I may be wrong but good nutrition and spending less on food purchases are not mutually exclusive to me.
As consumers turn to more supermarkets for their meals as an alternative to eating out, what role can retailers play to ease the transition?
I think the obvious transitional solution and the most logical marketing draws will be the move toward more and better convenience items. Although, in order for this to benefit retailers, supermarkets must understand that the quality must meet the demands of what people have become used to at restaurants. Favor, mouthfeel and quality are all part of the equation.
Outside of economics, what trends will most influence consumer shopping habits in 2009?
Health, sustainability, locally grown products and, most of all, the celebration of food!