The Food Journal and Food, Nutrition & Science

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

Retail Trends for 2008

Retail Trends for 2008

Shoppers and Trends

December 30, 2007

Retail Trends for 2008
Food retailers and brands are facing a myriad of new challenges in the coming months. As we enter the New Year, we will find ourselves coping with issues of sustainability and transparency, undeniable price increases, and the continued search for the Holy Grail that will lead us to health and wellness. Here’s our look at the top retail trends for 2008.
Trend #1: It's all about the garbage!
Like most retailers and brands, you care about the planet. You may even care more than your customers. But no matter where the green debate takes you – from measuring the global footprints of your products to simply reducing waste – 2008 will clearly be driven by the headlines that measure garbage.
Rather than sticking with the local versus organic debate, let’s look at the larger picture. It’s time to develop a more long-term plan. With cities and states working on legislation to tax or prohibit certain kinds of food and beverage packaging, retailers have an opportunity to take a lead position in building relationships with shoppers around sustainability initiatives.
Let’s learn from the past. Retailers quickly embraced the elimination of foods with Trans fats from their shelves. Perhaps it’s time to put in place universal guidelines for dealing with packaging and materials.
Trend #2: Where did this product come from?
Concerns about the safety of the food supply are threatening our relationship with consumers. After all, more than a year later, we’re still waiting to hear the final report on how bagged spinach with E. coli made its way to our stores. This year MUST be the year that confidence in the system is restored.
What does the future hold? Tesco’s Fresh & Easy stores will no doubt force the industry to install similar farm-to-table tracking programs to beef up safety measures. Imported foods, from China or elsewhere, will hopefully have to meet improved U.S. standards and more rigorous inspections. In a perfect world, the new Farm Bill will finally make Country-of-Origin Labeling a reality. Fingers crossed.
Trend #3: It's HOW much?
According to the USDA Economic Research Service, the average American spends just 10 percent of our household budget on food. When we look at this number in context and analyze the spending in other developed nations, it’s clear that we have the cheapest food prices in the world.
France, known for food indulgences, spends almost double what we spend at 18%. UK shoppers spend even more, at 22%. Japan, known for its stringent beef testing and food safety procedures, spends 26% of its income on foods. And consumers in India, one of this century’s developing business and technology leaders, spend just over half of their income on food alone.
It’s time for us to shift our resources, and produce foods and ingredients in a way that we can ensure the proper nutrients and safety procedures are in place – hopefully domestically. We also need to stop putting pressure on brands for a lower price. Pushing on price doesn’t allow for production or product innovation – it results in short budgeting on good manufacturing practices. And that can lead to disaster.
Trend #4: The Aging of America...AGAIN!
This year could be the “tipping point.” Our 76 million Baby Boomers start turning 65 years old in 2010. As they enter their sixth decade, Baby Boomers are joining the realm of major health ailments, including diabetes, heart disease, high cholesterol and high blood pressure.
While ads pervade the airways talking about the warnings of medications with more intensity than their benefits, 2008 holds the promise of new ways to get healthy. This year we’ll see more influence on whole grains and probiotics – rather than antacids. It’s time for shoppers to understand that good foods, with good science behind them, may be the best cure-all after all.
Trend #5: Relationships!
The one trend that continues year after year concerns relationships. It’s all about our relationships: relationships with our farmers, with our suppliers, with our peers and with our associates. Most importantly, 2008 is about focusing on our relationships with fellow shoppers. It’s the relationship that matters most.