The National Retail Federation’s Big Show filled New York City’s Javits Center with drones, robots, self-checkout, touch screens, mirrors that let you try on clothes (without trying on clothes) and countless technologies all designed to move the retail environment to the future. In mid-January, nearly 40,000 people gathered to search for the silver bullets that could fix declining sales, lost customer traffic and equip them for the battle against online shopping. I found few silver bullets.
The numbers say it all about fresh. According to IRI’s 2017 Top Trends in Fresh Foods study, the grocery store perimeter has outpaced other areas by 2.1 times. IRI also reports that spending in the fresh departments, including produce, prepared foods, bakery, meat and seafood as grown from $116 billion in 2013 to $140 billion in 2017.
The Financial Post in Canada writes that food visionary and restaurateur David Chang “wants the ethnic food aisle to die.” Chang “urged supermarkets to mix it all up instead, putting sauces and spices with spices, regardless of where they came from.” He argues that the current ethnic food aisle is “out of date and doomed … because it puts all the places in the world that are not White America in one aisle.”
For many produce suppliers, the Produce Marketing Association’s Fresh Summit is the Super Bowl of all trade shows. This is the show where the entire industry – 23,000 strong – comes together to talk about, order, look at and taste produce. It’s also where new product concepts are introduced and emerging trends spotted.
Lately, plant-based eating habits are all the rage and consumers are looking for ways to add more plant foods into their daily lives. According to the IFIC Food and Health survey, half of consumers are interested in learning more about plant-based eating habits, yet 50% noted that meeting protein needs would be difficult in a plant-based lifestyle.