Technology, generational change, and emerging consumer food values will result in new realities for both retail food and foodservice in 2018 and beyond.
- Retail food and foodservice will remain in a low growth environment - Our aging population is shifting more consumers into lower consumption life stages at both restaurant and retail. At the same time, emerging generations illustrate eating patterns that are a departure from established trends of the past. These macro demographic shifts create headwinds for total food and beverage consumption that are difficult to overcome for both food retailers and foodservice operators. In a stagnant market, there will be retailers, brands, and restaurants that find growth through a differentiated value proposition, on-trend attributes, and/or superior quality, but that growth will be mirrored as declines for other players.
- Brick and mortar retail disruption will accelerate - Almost 8 percent of NPD’s measured universe of $1.8 trillion in consumer purchasing is now online. In some industries, online penetration is as high as 30 percent. In both retail food and foodservice, e-commerce penetration is far lower than the average across industries but the gap is shrinking fast. We are now at a tipping point where a critical mass has adopted ecommerce in groceries, restaurant meals, and subscription meal kits. Brick and mortar grocery and on-premise foodservice is here to stay, but the landscape is being reshaped dramatically. Manufacturers, retailers, and restaurant operators who best leverage digital commerce will win in a challenging environment. Retailers and restaurant operators who reinvent the brick and mortar experience will remain standing.
- Convenience is being re-defined - From the 80’s through the 2000’s we witnessed the convenience revolution as baby boomers focused on career and family formation. They found value in convenience foods that offered time saving meal solutions and outsourcing meal prep to restaurants. Today convenience is as highly valued as ever but it’s taking on a new form. Consumers, who now desire natural foods, are shifting from convenient food to convenient preparation and procurement. This contributes to the growth in grocery ecommerce and restaurant delivery. In addition, American kitchens will be home to a variety of appliances and gadgets to facilitate cooking at home
- We are going “in” to eat more - Regardless of where the food is sourced or who prepares it, our meals are increasingly being consumed at home. Thanks to a changing workforce, the ease of online shopping, and the boom in streaming entertainment, there are fewer reasons than ever to leave the house. The most popular place to eat out this year will be our own home. 49 percent of dinners purchased from a restaurant are consumed at home, and many in home meals are a blend of dishes we prepare and those we purchase ready-to-eat from a foodservice establishment. Manufacturers, retailers, and operators today can win by making it easier to get foods and beverages to the home.
- Wellness….and Health - There is no doubt that a healthy lifestyle movement has changed American eating patterns. The shift to perimeter of the store, the rise in consumption of foods with organic, non GMO and natural labels, and a rise in the desire to avoid sugar are all evidence of healthy attitudes that have been emerging for several years. But now, the goal may be shifting to a focus on wellness. Consumers today are opening up to food as a means of feeling good that can include good health and an indulgent reward. In either case, authenticity will be valued. One the one hand, authenticity in the form of real, natural, minimally altered food. And on the other, an unapologetic honesty about the feel good aspect of a food like its taste, nostalgia, or the experience it is connected to – even if that food may not be the most healthful option.
A happy and successful 2018 to all!