2010 Top Food Trends

December 26, 2009

There is little doubt that our grocery shoppers are yearning for optimism after the past 20 or so months of this faltering economy

There is little doubt that our grocery shoppers are yearning for optimism after the past 20 or so months of this faltering economy. Brand Credibility is more important than ever and both retailers and CPG brands are understanding that without consumers trust, the future will be bleak.

There is a New Consumer Reality; people eating more meals at home, homemakers evolving from food assemblers to cooks, switching brands based on sale prices, and even discovering new store formats like Save-A-Lot, Grocery Outlet and Aldi and making these part of their regular shopping trips.

Our most recent Supermarketguru.com Consumer Panel Survey, sponsored by ConAgra Foods, focused on how shoppers were planning for the 2009 Holiday Season. Our survey found that 47% of shoppers planned on not holding a holiday party this year and 23% say they will contribute money or food to the parties they attend in order to "ease the financial burden of the host." Clearly, the sentiment is that "we are all in this together."


Consumers acceptance and purchasing of store brands are at an all time high, which has made some CPG brands sit up and take notice as they've seen their market share decline. Retailers are threatening to drop established brands from their shelves and add more private label SKUs. And while many shoppers have been satisfied with the quality and price of their store brands look for a radical shift in strategy. "Me-too" is out. CPG Shopper Insights are in; and look for the major brands to develop co-branded private labels with retailers which will feature key ingredients and build on-going partnerships between retailer and brand which will fuel innovations. For example; a retailer's private label macaroni & cheese might soon say "made with real Kraft cheese', or a store brand pasta sauce "made with Hunt's crushed tomatoes" - it's a model well established with CPG brands working together and the logical next step for private label evolution is about to begin.


It started innocently enough with a cable television show called Mad Men, three Golden Globes, one Peabody and multiple Emmys later, this critically acclaimed program has focused the spotlight on those 76 million baby boomers who grew up in an era where the Don & Betty Drapers and Roger Sterlings were the role models. Now as the boomers prepare to turn 65 years old and continue their unending search for the fountain of youth, comes the Mad Men product era. Brooks Brothers was the first brand to capitalize on the yearnings these aging Boomers with their limited edition Mad Men line of men's suits. iTunes has a special Mad Men mix. And even Eight-O-Clock Coffee becomes hip again as they offer their free Mad Men eCards. Look for other 60s iconic food brands to do the same, but updated with a new ingredient profile and more flavor; to meet the nutrition desires and needs of the aging boomer as well as catering to their age-diminished taste buds. Look for less carbonated soft drinks and more vitamin enriched everything. In 2010 25% of the U.S. population will be aged 55 and older - need any more proof?


People want to know where their foods come from, and with Country of Origin Labeling, shoppers are learning more than they ever expected; especially in the meat case where labels that list more than one country are prompting more consumer questions than ever. McDonald's and Burger King have effectively introduced their Angus burgers at higher prices based on the consumers perceptions of what this type of beef means; and look for even more growth. The hot trend for 2010 will be the re-emergence of the local butcher, both within supermarkets as well as free standing establishments - where shoppers will go, select the cuts of meat they prefer and have it ground on demand.


It's a new world of "word-of-mouth" recommendations using the latest technologies: mobile devices, mommy bloggers, twitter and house parties. The 2009 Women and Social Media Study, by BlogHer.com iVillage.com and Compass Partners reports that  75% of women visit social networks such as Facebook and MySpace and 55%, or 23 million, either publish blogs, read blogs, or post to blogs. Look for "boomer bloggers", "daddy bloggers' and "grandma bloggers" to expand the circle. The shopper is depending less on advertising and more on social networking and killer apps to help them make their decisions on where to eat and what foods to buy. Walmart has announced its intension to become a triple-threat in electronic communications, delivering targeted 'savings' messages through social networks on the Internet, cell phones and its growing in-store media network. According to Apple, there are currently more than 85,000 apps available to over 50 million iPhone and iPod touch users worldwide: GroceryIQ, Locavore, Pair It, Yelp, iEatOut, iFood Assistant, Nutrition Navigation, ScanAvert, REcipezaar, Sifter, Urban Spoon, Good Guide and Seafood Watch are just a few.


The Food Network might have built its following showcasing the hottest looking female and male chefs, but its over! With the success of Julie & Julia and the closing of Gourmet magazine, we are now seeing a move back to substance over glitz. The signal is clear, death to the foodie — and the rise of the "anti-foodie"; as we see less of the self-absorbed discussions on the perfect truffle or over-priced wine. By contrast, food programming today includes competitions, dramatic conflict, intimidating personalities, lots of glitz, sexy camera angles, and high energy. The food is just playing a part of the presentation, it is time for the food to be the star — which is what today's shoppers believe it should be.


Instead of relying on the "psychology" of comfort foods, brands are coming out with "relaxation" beverages with herbs and other ingredients designed to actually relax or put you to sleep. Brands like Drank, iChill and RelaxZen may well be the replacements for Vitamin Water and Gatorade. Look for this trend to quickly move to other categories including "anti-energy" bars, snack foods and even spawn a resurgence of calming after dinner drinks that you can enjoy at home.


The food industry has woken up and discovered that by using "real foods" as ingredients as well as a shortened list, not only are their foods healthier but also consumers are buying them up. Brands that are proving the trend include: Haagen-Dazs 5, Healthy Choice All Naturals, Peter Pan Peanut Butter (the only major peanut butter brand with no high fructose corn syrup) and Campbell's select Harvest

2010 will be challenging as weather conditions impact the cost of raw materials and are likely to increase commodity and retail prices. The new smaller store footprint continues to expand geographically as well and within the established retail banners. Healthcare reform may well open opportunities for food retailers to establish themselves as key resources for consumers as well as fueling new food categories with a bullet-proof nutrition based science behind them.

The year ahead promises change, the question is "are we prepared?"

The Lempert Report has expanded with even more insights and the information you need to stay ahead of the trends. The Lempert Report trend video uploads now every Tuesday and Thursday. For more visit the B2B tab.