t is that time of year again – where we gaze into our crystal ball to see what the food world has in store for the coming year. 2008 has been the most challenging year ever: rising food commodity costs, climate changes, crops destroyed by horrific weather conditions, higher prices for oil which translated directly into higher production and transportation costs! Add to that disastrous Wall Street ride and employment conditions that we have not experienced in generations. Topline is that more of us are using coupons, making our lists and shopping smarter. This year we decided to post the trends and work with the folks at ConAgra foods to offer suggestions on how you can capitalize on the trends...
It is that time of year again – where we gaze into our crystal ball to see what the food world has in store for the coming year. 2008 has been the most challenging year ever: rising food commodity costs, climate changes, crops destroyed by horrific weather conditions, higher prices for oil which translated directly into higher production and transportation costs! Add to that disastrous Wall Street ride and employment conditions that we have not experienced in generations. Topline is that more of us are using coupons, making our lists and shopping smarter. This year we decided to post the trends and work with the folks at ConAgra foods to offer suggestions on how you can capitalize on the trends.
1. The affect of weather and food safety on food prices.
The United States has the cheapest food supply on earth so we feel a little cheated with higher costs. The economy, natural disasters, such as hurricanes and flooding, as well as food safety regulations, have created shifts in all food productions thus increasing the food costs from the produce to frozen food aisles.
Shoppers know now that they have to be smarter about what and how to spend money. A recent study by ConAgra Foods found that more than 50 percent of Americans say they are eating more meals at home to avoid costly dining options.
It isn’t difficult to train yourself to eat at home instead of eating out. Try making frozen chicken nuggets at home, such as Banquet all-white chicken tenders, in exchange for fast food or restaurant chicken tenders. These are a fraction of the price and stored in your freezer for a cheap and convenient option for any meal.
2. Look to favorite brands for innovation.
While value is becoming increasingly more important to consumers, their taste buds are still looking for excitement. Thus consumers are looking to their favorite brands and restaurants for innovation. Take for example Healthy Choice meals. Healthy Choice responded to consumer demand for quick, great-tasting lunches that are easily accessible for busy employees and cheaper than take-out options. This required new technology for microwave foods. With Healthy Choice Fresh Mixers’ new packaging and cooking method, the meals can be stored at your desk, without refrigeration, and taste extremely fresh by having the pasta and rice cooked separate from the other ingredients.
So to save while still enjoying new and exciting food options, look to your favorite brands in 2009 for new recipes, creations and varieties.
3. Why locally grown continues to be important.
Shoppers are interested in where their food is coming from for taste, nutritional benefit and food safety reasons. Nonetheless, local foods can also be expensive. There are ways to know where your food is coming from while still cutting down on costs. Think locale versus local.
Consider foods that are made locally but shipped nationally such as Hunt’s tomatoes. Hunt’s tomatoes are grown exclusively in California so you’ll know where your tomato is from and how it was processed, without paying a premium for farmer’s market produce.
4. How the changing political landscape in Washington affects the food world in 2009.
With the change of power in the nation’s capital, there will be a shift in the food world including a new emphasis on small farms, new food safety regulations and country-of-origin labeling.
Shining a bright light on farmers, President-elect Obama plans to provide incentives for existing farmers and a call to action to promote the next generation of farmers and ranchers to help develop their skills and offer a tax incentive to bring about new farmers. Both Barack Obama and Joe Biden have pledged to support family farmers and their right to fair access to markets.
With food safety regulations and country-of-origin labeling, the new administration plans to monitor closely processes at factory farms with new food safety regulations, especially regarding meat products. Along with this, there also looks to be a renewed effort to better the USDA and FDA.
President-elect Obama has always been a supporter of country-of-origin labeling, making more foods traceable to their origin, helping to showcase to consumers exactly where their food is coming from.
5. The affect of shrinking store formats.
With large retail chains adding in grocery aisles and small grocery stores popping up throughout the nation, there has been a downsizing of large grocery stores. This stresses both convenience and value for both the retailer and the shopper.
Especially in urban environments, consumers are shopping for less but more often to maintain their busy lifestyle and avoid wasting food and money. Spending less time per shopping trip, consumers don’t demand the overwhelming selection of a giant store and neither do the retail chains. For the consumer, this decreases impulse purchases and helps to coordinate meals more appropriately. As for the retailer, this helps to bring down the need for a large shop with a wide variety of brands and offerings.
For recipes and more tips from ConAgra visit www.conagrafoods.com