HHS: Get off your duffs, America, and exercise!

All the nutritionists in the world could escort shoppers through the supermarket, and for all their smart nutritional suggestions, would be hard-pressed to do much about their fitness. That’s an individual pursuit. Some need more motivation than others—and are willing to pay for it, for example, by renting personal trainers by the hour. Others ride bikes in groups, play recreational sports, or change TV channels without the help of a remote (probably not many of the latter).

Oct 20, 2008 Read More

Orange juice prices may remain high

The state of Florida is the nation's leader in citrus production, and only second to Brazil in worldwide production. The industry has battled through a three-year slump, and this year mother nature has not helped much in the industry's struggle to recover. According to our editorial partners at, hurricanes and crop diseases can be blamed for the reduction in Florida orange yields, driving prices for consumers to a record six dollars per gallon for refrigerated orange juice. The USDA has predicted a 2.5% drop in Florida orange crop size, which will keep those prices high.

Oct 20, 2008 Read More

Federal leadership, stemming the coming food crisis?

Our domestic financial crisis is grabbing all the headlines, but the coming U.S. food crisis could soon become an equally riveting story—even if the wolf isn’t at the door yet. World Food Day was yesterday, and World Hunger Year, Food First and other collaborative groups used the occasion to sound a loud alarm. The world is heading for a food crisis—and the United States in particular is at risk because of its deregulated food system and recent economic crash. In a New York City event last night, which featured seven prominent global food experts, the warning came through loud and clear. Raj Patel, author of Stuffed and Starved: The Hidden Battle for the World Food Planet, said: “The Wall Street bailout has come fast and large. But who’s bailing out the hungriest, the people who will be first to lose their jobs in the economic downturn, the first to skip meals so their children can eat? The next President will face a world with increased hunger and poverty. So far, neither camp has shared any thoughts about how they’d tackle the the crisis."

Oct 17, 2008 Read More

Unexpectedly, this Halloween could expand beyond candy

This Halloween looks scarier for parents than children. Yet our nation’s economic distress could create an opportunity to expand the holiday’s sales, despite surveys projecting a consumer pullback on Halloween spending. Our different take comes from our sense that America’s households might turn Oct. 31 into a perfect excuse for family-centered activities—a short emotional shelter from everything that makes them skittish (investments, jobs, the election), and an opportunity to reassure kids they can still have fun and feel secure even in tough times.

Oct 17, 2008 Read More

Paying for the holidays

As we approach the holiday season this year, spending habits and attitudes will no doubt be affected by the current instability of our nation’s economy. Nine months ago, on, following the wrapping up of the 2007 holiday season, we ran a quick poll to see how shoppers felt about their spending habits after the decorations were taken down, the relatives went home, and the bills came in with the new year. This month we ran the same quick poll to check in and see how shoppers’ attitudes may have changed as they go for another go around of holiday spending.

Oct 17, 2008 Read More

Is “enjoyment” the next big global food trend?

A new trend tracking report from Ketchum, entitled “Food 2020 The Consumer as CEO” offers some insights into what our shoppers are thinking and looking for in the aisles and from the companies that produce their foods. This consumer survey tracked attitudes and behaviors in shoppers living in the United Kingdom, Germany, Argentina, China and the United States. Across these five countries, Ketchum found more similarities in what consumers were looking for than one might expect. Linda Eatherton, Partner, Global Food & Nutrition Practice Director, who spearheaded the Food 2020 project as part of the celebration of the 30-year anniversary of their well-respected Ketchum Kitchen, titled the report as “The Consumer as CEO” to send a wake up call to food manufactures, retailers and restaurants. “It’s all about the consumer, who is making decisions faster and more holistically then we have ever seen,” Eatherton says. “Our research reinforces that consumers ‘want it all…and want to know it all’, and if brands want to stay relevant they must be able connect and deliver on all expectations and desires.” Not an easy task, I know personally as I was one of those that Ketchum reached out to help them draft the consumer questions which would hopefully bring us all to the future faster. In reviewing the research, there are a number of “wows’ that clearly live up to Eatherton’s wake-up call strategy.

Oct 16, 2008 Read More

Shoppers on heels, retailers help them shop smarter

It’s not nearly Christmas yet, but it’s giveback time for retailers—and not a moment too soon for shoppers seeking economic relief. Though chains have dazed shoppers with successive price increases this year due to higher product and transportation costs, many have launched savings and educational programs to help ease their customers’ pain. Supermarkets, the beneficiaries of the restaurant sales decline and the top resource for meal-making at home, are helping people shop smarter and accrue savings from their continued shopping for household essentials. Naturally, the stores hope for a greater share of those baskets, they gain traffic when they host events, and for every convert they create when they suggest purchases of private label over national brands, their margin percentages tick upward.

Oct 15, 2008 Read More

Today's 'green' kids will drive brand image in 2020

Moms who don’t buy green stand a great chance of hearing about it from their kids. Dads who don’t recycle much or drive green, ditto. As retailers and CPG head down an increasingly pro-environmental road, they may want to tap this youthful energy with messaging for kids to help make their household purchases and practices greener. Not only could they form brand relationships and affect sales today, they could build memories for the year 2020, when kids who are now aged 8 to 18 will be wallet-toting, product-buying adults. Why think of that now?

Oct 15, 2008 Read More

Who’s better for food? Obama or MCain?

As we approach Election Day, the issues at the forefront with this term's presidential candidates have focused primarily on the state of the economy, our energy supply, climate change, health care and national security. What we haven't heard much about is what we are facing with rising food costs, which is also an important factor in all of those glaring issues that our nation is facing. Without attention being paid to price and abundance of our food supply, a vital component is being ignored. As of the beginning of 2008, rising food prices pushed 75 million more people into the status of what is defined as “hunger”, and some predict that number could double by the end of the year. By the year 2050, we will need to produce almost twice as much food as we do today based on current population trends which predicts a global population of over 11 billion mouths to feed; and be able to produce it on a shrinking land mass, hence the reason why climate change and sustainability should be on the minds of the world and our presidential candidates.

Oct 14, 2008 Read More

Milk deserves its front billing

Milk is the new ‘welcome home’ sign to shoppers at 13 new and remodeled Kroger stores in Virginia where they have placed refrigerated cases by the front of the store. This new location for the ultimate comfort food is a fresh, soothing message to patrons who’ve been buffeted by wild economic swings, and who likely appreciate a small calming maternal touch. Memories of a youthful treat with cookies might flash in their minds upon first view. Over time, they’ll simply enjoy that in these stores they no longer have to trek to the back to fill a Quick Trip for breakfast food.

Oct 14, 2008 Read More

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