Lighter pantries could change center-store

Articles
December 22, 2010

Lighter pantries could change center-store

The kitchen pantry is no longer a wasteland of forgotten fudge mix, spices whose scents sailed long ago, and canned vegetables pushing their use-by dates.

The kitchen pantry is no longer a wasteland of forgotten fudge mix, spices whose scents sailed long ago, and canned vegetables pushing their use-by dates. Consumers today are in touch with their cupboards, they look to make meals at home with ingredients on hand, and they hold off on buying more until stock runs low.

Welcome to the lean supply chain of America’s kitchens. Consumers’ budget awareness since the recession has tightened household procurement policies. Household organizers would be proud of the white space.

What does this mean for supermarkets? More Quick Trips, less Stock-Up. How about CPG? Smaller package sizes, and new strategies for securing planogram and promotional space. For consumers? More control and better-managed cash flow, but with a possible trade-off in higher prices per product ounce or unit count.

This is playing out in several ways nationwide, reported The Wall Street Journal:

  • One-third of consumers have changed their pantry levels since mid-2008, with about 75% of this group lowering inventory (Procter & Gamble research)
  • The average U.S. household has 369 unique items in its pantries, medicine chests and cosmetics bags, down from 404 in 2006 (SymphonyIRI Group data)
  • Wholesale clubs such as Costco and BJ’s are seeing more trips and smaller baskets.

Besides the financial implications for all parties, The Lempert Report thinks this de-cluttering of the American pantry could help people make more focused, healthful meal choices – with fewer ingredients perhaps, but good, nutritious ones. People might be more willing to experiment and let the pure flavors and tastes of good food rise above older habitual choices.

This trend could help transform center-store for the better – if retailers and CPG fully recognize and act on this opportunity to help retrain America’s dietary selections. If there’s room in the household budget for fewer items than before the recession, they might as well be healthier ones – offered by food stores and manufacturers that let consumers know they’re in their corner.