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Food & Beverage Market Research & Business Solutions

No one knows more about how people eat than The NPD Group. For decades now, we’ve been the definitive source of information on food and beverage consumption, whether at home or away-from-home. Snacks-on-the-go? Lunch at the drive-thru? Dinner with the family? We track them all.

We monitor a wide range of critical food industry trends and track consumer behavior, attitudes, and usage motivators – from diet and nutrition to shopping habits and brand awareness.

The smartest companies in the food and beverage industry depend on our information, insights, and expertise to understand what consumers are actually eating and drinking. In addition to providing this unique information, we can combine our data with your information or third-party data to help you solve specific, difficult business issues.


Food and Beverage
Solutions


National Eating Trends

National Eating Trends® (NET®) monitors thousands of individuals’ eating habits each year to provide a complete view of food and beverage consumption in the U.S. This information goes far beyond supermarket scanner and purchase panel data to focus on consumers’ actual eating situations. For more than 30 years, NET has captured preparation and consumption situations for foods and beverages, reporting on who consumes particular food and beverage products, when and where they consume them, how they are consumed, and why.  This information can be used in research and new product development as well as in marketing mature brands.


SnackTrack

SnackTrack® is the go-to source for U.S. snack food consumption information. SnackTrack’s ongoing consumer data collection presents a complete picture of snack and convenience foods to help you understand critical trends in behavior, attitudes, and usage. It captures who, when, where, why, and how specific snack-oriented foods and brands are consumed, and examines situational and motivational dynamics that affect snack food consumption. Leading snack and convenience food manufacturers rely on SnackTrack to provide insight beyond conventional purchase databases.


Dieting Monitor

Examine the top-of-mind dieting and health issues facing consumers today. Dieting Monitor helps companies understand dieting patterns, perceptions of dieting and health, and the influence these factors have on consumers. It also reports on awareness of and participation in specific diets, including all of the programs consumers and the media talk about most.


Kitchen Audit

This inventory of American kitchens represents a key “ingredient” in recipe development. Since its inception in 1993, The NPD Group’s Kitchen Audit study has offered food and housewares manufacturers a comprehensive profile of the foods, beverages, appliances, cookware, utensils, and other cooking materials kept on hand in American home kitchens. It also identifies who uses recipes and where they source them from. This is critical information for understanding the complete picture for how cooking and meal planning is evolving.

This inventory of American kitchens represents a key “ingredient” in recipe development. Since its inception in 1993, The NPD Group’s Kitchen Audit study has offered food and housewares manufacturers a comprehensive profile of the foods, beverages, appliances, cookware, utensils, and other cooking materials kept on hand in American home kitchens. It also identifies who uses recipes and where they source them from. This is critical information for understanding the complete picture for how cooking and meal planning is evolving.


NET Hispanic Study

Explore eating habits of Hispanic consumers, both at home and away from home. The study reveals new details about the cooking, eating, and dining behaviors of Hispanics in the U.S. It also explores the many segments of the U.S. Hispanic population and their unique characteristics and needs that influence food behaviors, including detail on U.S. Hispanics by country of origin, acculturation, language, and first/second/third generations.



Food and Beverage
Reports


What's Happening in America's Kitchens

For more than 20 years, we've asked American consumers to provide details about what they have in their kitchens and how they prepare and cook their meals. Get new insights from our report, What's Happening in America's Kitchens, and learn what conve.

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Future of Foodservice Snapshot Delivery – Report

Focusing on delivery is one way to stay competitive in today’s slow-growth foodservice market. We know delivery trends were strong in 2017, but what is the outlook for the future? This report provides new insight about foodservice customers and the potential growth opportunity for delivery The Delivery Overview section looks across QSR pizza, QSR beyond pizza, and FSR, revealing unique business dynamics, consumer profiles, digital delivery engagement, and third-party apps. The Delivery Outlook section provides a five-year cohort forecast for restaurant delivery, as well as a two-year outlook for delivery compared across QSR pizza, QSR beyond pizza, and FSR.

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Hispanic Food Culture in America

Inform innovation and targeting strategies by completing your view of U.S. eating habits with the fresh insights on how and what Hispanic consumers eat and drink both at home and away from home. The report gives you deep insight into the needs, behaviors, motivations, and desires of this growing population segment. Armed with this comprehensive report, you’ll find new ways to address the latest trends and strengthen your connection to Hispanic consumers, refine your targeting and messaging, and find new ways to appeal to this critical consumer group.

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Make It Happen for Gen Z

With a new generation of food and beverage consumers coming of age, it's important to educate yourself about their needs and generational mindset. Our new report, Make It Happen for Gen Z, dives deep into the attitudes and behaviors of next-generation U.S. consumers — by young kids, kids aged 6 to 12, and teens into adulthood. It also examines the eating habits of Gen Z parents and how they choose to feed their kids. This report uncovers how food and beverage brands can create personal value for this generation by embodying four key attributes: authenticity, individuality, discovery, and fluidity.

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Navigating GMOs for Success

With new labeling laws on the horizon, it’s critical to understand and address consumers’ concerns. Most consumers now say they are aware of genetically modified organisms (GMOs), and many of them tell us they aren’t comfortable buying and consuming foods that include them. Our new report, Navigating GMOs for Success, gives you new information and expert insight into this consumer mindset. It’s how to get the knowledge you need to improve product positioning and deliver effective marketing messages to respond to GMO-related concerns.

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Meal Kit Delivery Services

Meal kit delivery services like Blue Apron and Plated have garnered a small, but seemingly dedicated, segment of enthusiasts in the U.S. Are these kits a passing fad, or is this a trend worth watching? Our new report, Thinking Inside the Box: A Fresh Look at Meal Kit Delivery Services, combines findings of our own custom study with ongoing NET® consumer tracking research, insights from our Checkout Tracking solution, and industry expertise. It uncovers answers to your pressing questions about this new player in your market.

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Food and Beverage
Press Releases


June 12, 2018

The Future of Dinner in America Will Reflect Past Traditions But With Modern Twists

The tradition of eating dinner at home together has stood the test of time and will continue over the next five years but with a lot of modern twists, finds the recently released Future of Dinner study by The NPD Group, a leading global information company.


May 15, 2018

Will Consumers of Organic Foods Be Swayed By Negative Publicity on the Quality and Safety of These Foods? Not Likely.

The Environmental Working Group’s recent report that pesticide levels in organically grown foods is equal to that of conventionally grown foods raised the question: will consumers of organic foods switch to all natural or conventionally grown foods.


April 25, 2018

U.S. Consumers Take an Omnichannel Approach When It Comes to Grocery Shopping

Although there are more consumers buying their groceries online, they haven’t jumped all in. Nearly all online grocery shoppers (99%) still shop in brick and mortar grocery stores.


March 21, 2018

Gen Zs Are Discerning Grocery Shoppers with an Eye for Organic and Real Foods

Generation Z, those born 1997 to present, has the potential to take demand for “real” unadulterated food to new heights, finds a new report from The NPD Group, a leading global information company. Raised by Gen X parents, Gen Zs have higher consumption rates of organic foods and beverages than any other group, and they were taught at a young age the value of food in terms of function and nutrition and not just how it tastes.


January 24, 2018

Unintentional Foodies, Gen Zs Expect Food Brands to Follow Their Needs, Rather Than the Other Way Around

Generation Z, those born 1997 to present, now represent 27 percent of the U.S. population, a larger group than Millennials, and although only older Gen Zs are entering adulthood, their impact on the food industry is already being felt, finds a new study by The NPD Group, a leading global information company. Gen Zs, many of whom were raised by Gen Xers, grew up understanding the purpose of food and how it fits into a well-lived life. As a result this generational cohort has set expectations that food and food brands will follow their needs and not the other way around.


October 24, 2017

What’s Inside America’s Kitchens Today? The Appliances and Tools to Prepare Fresh Meals Conveniently.

U.S. consumers have a renewed interest in cooking freshly prepared meals but not in spending more time doing it, according to a recent kitchen audit conducted by The NPD Group, a leading global information company. While convenience has always been a chief consideration in America’s kitchens, the definition of convenience is constantly in flux, and now saving consumers time with their freshly prepared foods is essential. The move towards fresh or clean eating has had an impact on how kitchens are equipped and set up today. Pantries are stocked differently and kitchen appliances, cookware, technology, and tools are evolving to make fresh food prep and cooking more convenient and foolproof, reports NPD.


September 26, 2017

Over Half of U.S. Consumers Concerned About Sugar Intake But Concern Doesn’t Always Translate to Behavior

Over half of U.S. adults and teens say they’re trying to get less sugar in their diet, apparently the operative word is trying.


September 18, 2017

Cultural Influences and Adventurous Tastes Drive Popularity of Ethnic Flavors in U.S.

Cultural influences and the more adventurous taste buds of U.S. consumers have made flavors like tikka masala, poblano, and doenjang recognized names on grocery store shelves and restaurant menus. The affinity U.S. consumers continue to show for ethnic flavors and dishes is supported by the fact that 75 percent of U.S. adults, especially young adults, are open to trying new foods, reports The NPD Group, a leading global information company.


August 15, 2017

Millennial Parents’ Eating Choices Are Influenced by a Blend of Lifestyle and Generational Attitudes

Millennials are growing up and having kids and while some of their generational attitudes remain intact, their lifestyle as parents often change the how, what, and why behind their consumption choices. Breakfast is a meal occasion where being a Millennial parent necessitates convenience over satiation, which is the primary motivation for breakfast choices of Millennials without kids, according to a recently released report by The NPD Group, a leading global information company.


June 27, 2017

Growing Ecommerce Grocery Channel Will Accelerate Adoption of Meal Kit Delivery Services

There continues to be a lot of buzz about meal kit delivery services — from celebrities launching their own services, ecommerce retailers partnering with food companies to develop meal kits, to major food companies investing in meal kit delivery services — but still adoption by U.S. consumers is relatively small at roughly 5 percent of households, reports The NPD Group, a leading global information company. One of the barriers to adoption is the expense of meal kit delivery services, according to an NPD Group study, but with the growth of online grocers offering meal kits, the kits will become more readily available, affordable and, as a result, more adoptable.


Food and Beverage
Insights


April 24, 2018

Thinking About Peppering up Your Portfolio

Knowing the emerging flavors U.S. consumers are clamoring for is an excellent way to innovate – or renovate – to keep consumers engaged and stay ahead of competitors. One of the flavor profiles making news is peppers, from sriracha’s hold on spice-loving consumers to interest in the hotter-than-hot ghost pepper.


April 24, 2018

Bringing Families with Kids Back to the Table

Visits by parties with kids may result in cracker crumbs and O-shaped cereal under the tables, but these customers are a critical part of the U.S. restaurant business. Their visits have slowed recently — but you can get them growing again.


April 24, 2018

Fresh Fruit – Ripe for the Picking at Snack Time

Fresh fruit is the most commonly eaten better-for-you snack among U.S. consumers because it is widely available and consumed throughout the day. In fact, fresh fruit strongly leads morning snacking.


April 24, 2018

Hungry for Apps?

The frozen appetizers category is worth $2.2 billion to the U.S. foodservice industry. NPD's market sizing delivers detail on your best opportunities related to this category and others. Shipment data from 700,000+ operators reveals appetizers are on the incline.


April 24, 2018

From Pantry to Table

Frozen vegetables, to rice and chicken, see what kitchen staples. See our latest reports on trending health food trends and current food industry trends.


April 18, 2018

The Convenience Revolution

Consumers have redefined the meaning of convenience, and it's less likely to be defined as going out to a restaurant. Hear what's trending from Industry Advisor, David Portalatin.


April 4, 2018

Make It Happen For Gen Z | Webinar


January 24, 2018

How a Juice Manufacturer Got The Information Needed To Regain Lost Sales

After years of leading the fruit-juice category in the lodging segment, a particular manufacturer slipped to second place in the market. In fact, a competitor was outpacing our client’s sales by 10 points each month.


October 5, 2017

At-Home Food Prep — Convenience is King

Fresh foods are growing after decades of consumers shifting to “convenient” packaged and processed solutions. As the desire for more fresh options in U.S. kitchens has grown, the definition of convenience has shifted.


September 12, 2017

Sweet Smarts: Consumers’ Concerns About Sugar

Over the last decade, U.S. consumers became less concerned about checking nutrition labels for calories, fat, and sodium. But sugar held steady until an uptick in 2016 and 2017. Now it’s their number-one priority when checking labels.



Food and Beverage
Insights and Opinions from our Analysts and Experts


July 17, 2018

Whole Foods Primed Up My Prime Day Purchase

In a recent Twitter post (@NPDSeifer) I showed how Amazon is tightening the gap between online and offline experiences by offering discounts to Prime members in Whole Foods. The tightening continues with this year’s Prime Day sales.

On Sunday, July 15, the day before Prime Day, I went shopping in my local 365 by Whole Foods Market where upon scanning my Prime membership card at check out, I received 10 percent off several produce items. The savings, however, didn’t stop there because I then received an email informing me I had an additional $10 off to spend on Prime Day starting the following afternoon.

In today’s omnichannel world, retailers need to go beyond assuring seamless experiences between online and offline and recognize the strengths that each provide the consumer. In this example, it was fast and convenient for me to make a trip to the store for a bag of groceries, but that trip supported a visit to Amazon, which can more easily ship to me other items I need for my home.

So getting 10 percent off my spinach and arugula in 365 turned into an additional $10 off on a Kindle from Amazon, an item that was already reduced by almost 40 percent. A perfect example of how I was primed for Prime Day!


July 10, 2018

The American Kitchen is Alive and Thriving

Contrary to recent news reports that U.S. consumers are eating at restaurants more, consumers are, in fact, increasingly eating and preparing their meals at home. Due 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 in America is our own home.

I do understand the confusion since foodservice spending has been increasing —up two percent in the year ending May 2018 — but foodservice spending doesn’t equate to foodservice visits, which were flat in the period.  Restaurant visits, whether onsite, drive-thru, or ordered for delivery, are more indicative of foodservice growth than spending. Foodservice spending is up primarily because the cost of a restaurant meal is increasing faster than the cost of a home prepared meal. Additionally, a restaurant meal has historically cost more than an in-home meal, typically as much as three times more. 

Although there are certainly pockets of growth in the foodservice industry, since the recession the industry remains challenged to get people out of their homes to eat. In our daily research of U.S. consumers’ eating behaviors, we consistently show that four out of five meals are prepared at home, and although the relationship of in-home prepared meals versus those sourced away-from-home has been stable for a few years, we still prepare more meals at home than we did a decade ago.

That is not to say that consumers aren’t looking for shortcuts in their meal preparation.  Close to half of dinners purchased from a restaurant are consumed at home and many in-home meals are a blend of dishes we prepare and items purchased ready-to-eat from a foodservice establishment.  Our just published Future of Dinner study forecasts that blended meals, which include a restaurant or prepared food, will grow over the next five years.  This, to me, is a win-win for both food manufacturers and foodservice operators.

There will always be competition between food companies and foodservice operators for consumers’ food dollars, and it’s not entirely a matter of where consumers are eating but rather what they’re eating. The key is to understand that consumers are ultimately calling the shots and the winners will be those who listen.    


May 14, 2018

Checking Out Amazon Go Without The Check Out

If you haven’t heard of Amazon Go by now you might want to search for it online. It represents what could be part of the future of retail by taking away a key grievance consumers have with shopping – waiting in line to check out. While you’re doing your online search you might see me featured as an analyst discussing its implications in the news story. While I spoke about it several times in the media, I hadn’t actually been there so I decided it was time to check it out with my own eyes.

Located in Seattle, Washington, this store exemplifies the notion that big ideas are sometimes in small containers. It’s no larger than a typical convenience store at a gas station, but I knew I arrived when I saw a group of people taking pictures with their smartphones of a store front. I already had the Amazon Go app on my phone, which is linked to your existed Amazon account for billing purposes. As I entered the store I was greeted by two employees who advised me it was time to open the app so I can scan the barcode at a turnstile right by the front door. I felt as though I was boarding a plane because that’s the only other time I scan barcodes on my phone for entry.

The first thing I did was look up to see the technology on the ceiling. It was all colored black, which in some ways makes it blend into the ceiling, but you couldn’t help notice it was all throughout the store. This is apparently how the technology works – you scan your barcode at the entry, the cameras capture your face, therefore when you remove an item from the shelf it knows who took it and whom to bill.

The options seemed fairly straight forward – packaged foods, snacks, beverages, as well as ready-to-heat and ready-to-eat options. There were even alcoholic beverages in a section guarded by a staff member who checks for IDs. For those looking for more involvement they even had meal kits that have all the ingredients pre-proportioned and ready to prepare. It was lunchtime so I grabbed an Indian chick pea dish, a beverage, and a couple of snacks for later. However, I wanted to put the technology to the test so I grabbed two other random items and shortly thereafter placed them back to see if I would get charged incorrectly for them.

Now I was ready to check out – uh – I mean leave the store. I headed back to the turnstiles and had this odd feeling that I was doing something wrong but the staff waved me on and I simply left. There’s a small dining area with microwaves and while I ate there my receipt arrived via email – it worked! Only the items I took were charged and the two items I put back were not.

So will this technology be the way of the future? Perhaps. While details are top secret, it seems this technology is expensive and retrofitting stores all across the country could prove too large an expense for some retailers. However, consumers continue to express convenience in the way they procure their foods and beverages, which is why we’re seeing more consumers use online sources for delivery or pick-up to minimize their time in stores.

Speaking of minimizing time in the store, the receipt shows I spent 14 minutes and 33 seconds inside – about 10 minutes of which I was wandering around taking pictures.



April 6, 2018

The Consumer Needs to Be First and Foremost

On March 27, 2018, I had the privilege of speaking on a panel at the 2018 GMA Science Forum in Washington, DC. In attendance were food scientists and technologist from many of the major food manufacturers in the United States, but despite their backgrounds I was surprised to see how much the consumer took a center role during the presentations – especially when discussing GMOs.

Sree Ramaswamy from The McKinsey Global Institute said in a keynote speech that from the beginning, the benefits of GMOs were touted to the wrong audience. The messaging was constantly around how farmers, their crops, and agribusinesses will thrive, but there were very few benefits advertised to the consumer. This is especially true today when consumers are calling for greater transparency, the free flow of information on the internet, and increasingly asking, “what’s in it for me?”

GMOs have been debated for several years with some fearing they might have health issues when consumed over a long period of time. While scientific studies have yet to prove that, our research at NPD shows more than 70 percent of adults have concerns when using GMO foods. As a result, nearly 20 percent of all meal occasions now include a Non-GMO Verified product up from nearly zero just five years ago. Clearly, the science around GMOs hasn’t reached the average consumer.

What I took away from this conference is that food companies have to be consumer focused throughout their entire organization. Even if your role is scientific in nature, you have to be concerned with how consumers will react. So while those of us in the food industry might be close to the information, the average person isn’t and it’s everyone’s job to educate them and satisfy their needs.


November 13, 2017

Real Life Lessons Learned and Treasured

These past several months I spent much of my time compiling and writing the 32nd Eating Patterns in America (EPA) report. It’s my second year authoring EPA and my third year traveling the country to share the insights gained from this report. Although I have a long way to go to top my predecessor’s longevity in writing the report (29 years), I'm enjoying bringing my own perspective  into our rich, ongoing food and foodservice research.   But I find that where my perspective on the data intersects with our clients’ real life experience is where real learning happens.

It’s my privilege to travel around the country meeting with and presenting EPA to our clients, and a luxury to hear firsthand what’s on their minds. They deal daily with the realities of changing consumer attitudes, behaviors, and demographics, an evolving marketplace with ongoing channel and digital disruptions; and increasing competition for consumer mindshare and dollars. As a result of our conversations together, this year’s EPA addresses many of these new realities.

There are four new realities in particular that are a focus of our view on the state of the consumer: The New Retail, The New Convenience, The New Restaurant, and The New Health and Wellness. These topics best represent the areas where there has been the most change or evolution.  So this year, in addition to the long-term trends on consumption of foods and beverages, visits to restaurants, cooking methods, and attitudes on nutrition and diet, we also included our perspective of emerging trends facing the food and foodservice industries.  We explore the challenges of a low growth macro environment that is also enduring significant digital disruption, evaluate the long-term implications of demographic  change, examine new consumer attitudes about time spent at home, expand our view into the changing restaurant landscape, and more.

The contributions of our client partners brings to mind an ancient proverb that is a personal favorite of mine: As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.  I look forward to sharing my perspective on new realities with food and foodservice executives this year so that together we may sharpen our vision for finding growth in this challenging consumer landscape.



August 23, 2017

A New Take on Health and Wellness

It’s that time of year when I gather and review all of the food and beverage and foodservice research we’ve conducted over the past year and begin compiling the next annual edition of Eating Patterns in America. One of the continuing themes I’m seeing this year is how U.S. consumers are redefining what healthy and wellness means to them.  Consumer attitudes toward health and wellness have evolved beyond dieting and exercise, and are now more about a personal lifestyle in which wholesome foods and beverages play a role. Personal is the operative word. More than half of Americans agree they work hard to live healthy but define healthy based on their own needs.

As part of our study, Consumption Drivers: How Need Shapes Choices, we looked at the how, what, and why behind healthy consumption choices.  The definition of healthy eating has been broadened to include how food is processed and produced, like clean labels, fresh, non-genetically modified, or organic. This broader spectrum of wellness is a primary need throughout the day but it manifests differently at each daypart based on each consumer’s motivations. For example, those making healthy and nutritious food choices at breakfast and snack times are driven by the need for a healthy start. Men, 65 and older, women, ages 45 to 64, and adults with no kids fall into the well-developed group for healthy start motivations.  The need for smart choices is present for people practicing restraint at lunch, cutting calories and sugar to lose weight. The demographic skews for smart choices include men, ages 18-54, kids, and teens. 

Beyond healthy eating behavior, our research partner, CultureWaves*, points out that today’s definition of wellness also encompasses physical, mental, and emotional health. Balancing the mind as well as the body has led to the creation of numerous apps, products, and services built around monitoring the influencers of physical and mental health. With greater access to information about their personal wellness, consumers are taking increasingly more responsibility for their own health, choosing to be proactive instead of reactive. With the assistance of technology, information at their fingertips, wholesome foods, and accessible nutrition and workout programs, health and wellness fits seamlessly into consumers’ everyday lives.  

The irony of this modern approach to healthfulness is that, collectively, we aren’t exercising or dieting more and we’re not losing more weight, but that’s no longer the point, we are embracing a lifestyle centered on health and wellness and future well-being.

 

*CultureWavesTM provides consumer insights that are used by some of the top companies in the world to add a layer of qualitative behavioral insights to the traditional quantitative data, giving perspective and real time evidence around the evolution of a category. http://culturewaves.net



April 13, 2017

Are Online Grocers Encouraging Multiple-Stop Shopping?

I sometimes feel in the minority of men when it comes to grocery shopping because I actually don’t mind the task. Between NPD’s and my anecdotal research sources (a.k.a. my friends), men typically can’t wait to get the heck out of grocery stores and view the trip as a chore. However, even I don’t mind saving time by having someone else deliver my groceries right to my front door by using an online grocer.

My shopping patterns have changed thanks to the internet and it dawned on me the other day that I’m actually using more, not fewer, channels since much of my purchasing happens online. While I might be using more channels I’m spending less time in a physical store and I’m not alone in this shopping paradigm. Our National Eating Trends®(NET®) shows users of online grocers typically shop at twice as many channels as their offline counterparts (six versus three, respectively).

Are online grocers revolutionizing the shopping experience? I wouldn’t describe pace of change like the runaway grocery cart that’s heading for your brand-new car in the parking lot, but the seeds for future changes have been planted. As I mentioned, men typically have very negative views of grocery shopping but men are becoming increasingly responsible for acquiring their household groceries. More than 40 percent of primary grocery shoppers are now men, but they’re not taking on the task with open arms. This is a leading reason why men, ages 18-34, make up twice their fair share of all online grocery shoppers, according to our report, The Virtual Grocery Store. Since younger and tech savvy consumers are leading the way for the online segment to grow, we should expect this to be a larger behavior in the future.

There are a few things industry players can do now to prepare for this growth. Acknowledge that delivery/- online services have left the gate and are gaining favor with consumers. This underscores the need for manufacturers and retailers to partner on creating strategies to meet consumers wherever they shop. Whether it is delivery, click-and-collect, meal delivery kits, or traditional in-store, retail plans must now be holistic in their approach if they want to guarantee future success. Also, for slower moving or lower distribution products use this as an opportunity to drive sales. With online grocers, it’s less about shelf space and more about availability. And, don’t forget that your competition is just a click away so make sure you don’t give consumers an excuse to leave!


March 22, 2017

When It Comes to Defining “Healthy,” It’s Personal

 The U.S. Food and Drug Administration started a public process to redefine the “healthy” nutrient content claim for food labeling. They want to make sure the definition for the “healthy” labeling claim stays up-to-date. For example, public health recommendations now focus on various thresholds fat, added sugars, or nutrients that consumers aren’t getting enough of, like vitamin D and calcium.

Recently I was part of an FDA-hosted panel that was part of a public forum to discuss the definitions of “healthy.” Food companies, lobbyists, nutritionist, and even a grammarian who wanted the FDA to consider the grammatically correct term “healthful” instead of “healthy,” were among the hundreds of individuals and organizations who provided comment.  All commented with the good intention of getting consumers to eat “healthy”… or should I say healthful.

Here’s what we know with our 30-plus years of tracking all aspects of how consumers eat: consumers today define “healthy” to mean fresh, authentic, and real. It’s clear to them that an apple is healthy.  If the food is processed, they want transparency, meaning they want to know the makeup of the food, including the positive attributes of the food that they may desire in their diet. They want all of the necessary information to decide what they will eat and what they will not. In other words, the definition of “healthy” is personal.


March 14, 2017

G M Ooooh Here We Go Again!

I’m often asked if non-GMO is a passing fad or engrained behavior, and given how often I’ve been asked this over the years I’m going with the latter.

But it’s not just my gut instinct that’s driving that belief. We decided to take another look at the pulse of consumers’ concerns around GMOs and there have been some very interesting shifts in just three years. I used to joke in my presentations how most people had no idea what GMOs were yet there are millions of consumers who are saying they need to avoid them. Back in 2013, more than half of consumers said they had little to no awareness regarding GMOs. Well, that’s not the case anymore.

In fact, most consumers now have some idea of what GMOs are and many more consumers can identify potential benefits to using them centering mostly around more resilient crops. But this increase in understanding hasn’t quelled any fears for consuming genetically modified foods. In 2013, about 70 percent of consumers had concerns and that figure is now 76 percent in 2016.

The reason why I think it’s more of an engrained behavior that will last has to do with who’s driving this increase. Adults in their 20s and 30s are the main reason for the increase in awareness and concern, and since their food preparation habits are beginning to solidify, we should expect more of these behaviors as they become more prominent players in the economy and raise their children under these habits.

I think a clear example of how this is changing is the increased use of organic foods, which is one method consumers can use to avoid GMOs. Previous generations saw this as a way to feed their children “clean” foods but the parents would use traditional foods as they didn’t see the need to spend the extra money on themselves. As evidenced in both our National Eating TrendsÒ information as well as consumer interviews, Millennial parents are now asking why shouldn’t they use organic foods for themselves since they use them for their children for healthful reasons.

With the new GMO labeling law set to take effect, the question isn’t if you should disclose but how you should disclose. You can use a QR code that consumers can scan but our research shows most consumers find that inconvenient. That being said, consumers also appreciate when companies are being open and honest about their manufacturing processes. If the QR code is the way you go, you might want to use that as a chance to talk about more than just GMOs. Talk to consumers about where you source your ingredients, charities you support so consumers feel they’re supporting them too, sustainable business practices, etc. Now more than ever, consumers want to know what happened to your products before they hit the shelves.



February 16, 2017

Virtual Grocery Shopping Reality

Driving with my family recently after a long trip away, we pondered what we would do for dinner. We spent the last several days eating restaurant meals and were craving a home cooked dinner. The problem was we were still hours away from home and too tired to stop and grocery shop. My wife suggested using online delivery from our local grocery store. I was skeptical. Would the fresh food sit out on our porch spoiling in the unseasonable Houston heat? She assured me that our retailer promised we could specify the delivery time. And so we placed the order while driving home.

An hour down the road we received a text from Kate, our personal shopper, who told us she was starting our order and asked for permission to text or call with any questions. This communication was followed with a text photo of apples to ensure they met our standards. The order delivered right after we arrived home. We were satisfied with the service and now about half of our grocery shopping has shifted online.

We are among the 52 million consumers who currently shop online and there will be many more of us in the coming months based on our recent The Virtual Grocery Store study. Like us, the majority of online grocery shoppers is satisfied with the experience and become repeat users.

Happy customers, the never-ending search for convenience, more delivery options, shipping deals, like Amazon Prime, the infinite assortment, and more aggressive online strategies being launched by major grocery retailers will drive the quick adoption of virtual grocery shopping. The tipping point will be here before you know it.

Watch, listen, and learn. Food and beverage manufacturers should monitor to ensure their products are part of the assortment where it matters. Grocery retailers should start developing e-commerce programs or to expand current services. Now is the time to act, while shoppers, like my family, are still experimenting and before virtual grocery shopping becomes an everyday reality.


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