2018 Speaks Report – What are Food Retailer Saying?
By Shari Steinbach, MS RDN, RDBA Contributing Editor
Each year the Food Marketing Institute (FMI) surveys retailers from across the country to get a pulse on the concerns and opportunities affecting the supermarket industry. The 2018 Food Retailing Industry Speaks report explores those issues that impact food sales positively or negatively, describes some of the strategies retailers are using to differentiate themselves, and looks at the growing impact of e-commerce. Several of the results are encouraging for the current and future role of retail dietitians:
- Retailers see health and wellness, and the trend of consumers viewing food as medicine, both as positive opportunities.
- A change in consumer consumption patterns (meals and snacking), can also present an opportunity but retailers may need help to provide appropriate solutions.
- Transparency can serve as a way to engage customers and increase loyalty.
- To differentiate themselves from the competition, retailers are focusing on local sourcing, prepared foods, fresh departments, organics and private brands.
- Consumers are interested in the social efforts undertaken by retailers. Key areas of interest include, food waste reduction, diversity in hiring and product transparency.
Key takeaways for retail dietitians include the fact that supermarkets are adapting and innovating with technology, product offerings, wellness programming and transparency. However, there are still nagging issues which include rising health care costs and varied competition for the food dollar. It will be vital to continue showing the value you bring to the retail environment to meet consumer needs, drive sales and increase loyalty. Consider the following areas to help direct your work:
- Align your community outreach activities with corporate goals.
- Use your expertise to bring health attributes to prepared foods, fresh departments and private brands, and again, communicate your efforts.
- Be creative by helping consumers with meal and snack solutions that meet their lifestyle. Suggest merchandising options, participate in Family Meals Month™, offer cooking classes/recipes/demos, and use social media posts and videos to promote meal and snack ideas along with easy food preparation tips.
- Look for ways to tell product stories and be transparent about food production processes, ingredients and sustainability efforts.
- While on-line sales only accounts for an average of 1.3% of total sales, it is expected to grow and retailers are concerned about competition in this area. Discover ways to become involved with online shopping and ways you can differentiate and add value.
- Look for opportunities to engage team members with your wellness programming to help lower corporate health costs, as well as, making them advocates for your initiatives.
- Communicate your ROI (even if you aren’t asked to!)