The Food Journal and Food, Nutrition & Science

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

Leftovers – Sign of the Times?

Leftovers – Sign of the Times?

Shoppers and Trends

December 28, 2008

No surprise to many of N.G.A.’s members that consumers continue to change their shopping behaviors as the economy worsens. Although we have seen prices/price increases moderating, unemployment has increased and for the first time in decades – having/keeping a job has become a primary concern for consumers. 

According to a recent N.G.A. Quick Poll, consumers have reduced their buying of prepared meals and dining out, and have increased their purchases of at-home meal assembly components. Additionally, according to an Information Resources Inc. study, 61% of consumers are eating out less often – with 51% buying fewer prepared meals. This has certainly changed from a few months ago. While consumers are increasingly purchasing meal components, they also have an increasing need to stretch their food dollar. This environment continues to reward the N.G.A. retailers that focus their brand message on value and not just price.
So what do leftovers have to do with the economy? According to Tom Blischok, President of Consulting and Innovation at IRI, the average consumer refrigerator has between 25% and 35% fewer leftovers because consumers are trying to manage their “food waste”. Moreover, consumers are doing everything they can to stretch their money and hold onto as many of the rites and rituals as they can, but there are some they have to give up. Cars are not being maintained as well, and houses may not get that fresh coat of paint. 

Incidentally, Blischok is a featured general session speaker at the N.G.A. Annual Convention, at the Paris Hotel in Las Vegas, February 3 -6, 2009 ( Tom will share consumer related statistics and trends, as well as discuss his much anticipated predictions for the food industry.
As stated earlier, jobs and job security have become a concern for consumers like no time in many of our lifetimes. Additionally, we continue to experience an economic contraction – fueled by asset devaluations and a credit crisis. There is no question we will continue to see consumers become more frugal and learn to do what they can with less. Nonetheless, N.G.A. members see this environment as an opportunity to assist consumers in managing their food dollars and food waste through affordable products and excellent service.  

In these times that require drastic change, organizations that continue to understand consumer behavior and respond quickly are the ones being rewarded. Consumer behavior relative to leftovers is an important aspect in understanding the mindset of your customer.

The 2009 N.G.A. Annual Convention & Supermarket Synergy Showcase will be held February 3-6, 2009 at the Paris Las Vegas Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada. Click here for workshops, special events and other convention information or download a copy of our brochure.