Consumers are buying less food less frequently, making value the crux of their shopping philosophy, according to “What’s in Store 2012,” the published trends report from the International Dairy-Deli-Bakery Association™ (IDDBA).
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Consumer Price Index anticipates food prices will climb faster than general inflation. Supermarket prices are anticipated to rise 3.5 percent to 4.5 percent, while restaurant prices are expected to rise 3 percent to 4 percent.
Consumers are attempting to negate these higher prices with less significant shopping trips for necessity items. More than 60 percent of U.S. shopping trips are now classified as low-value, instant-need driven trips with an average basket ring of $15, Nielsen reported. Average shopping trips per week have slipped from 2.2 in 2005 to 1.7 in 2011, according to the Food Marketing Institute. Consumers cited low price as the most important factor in choosing a primary store, where they spend most of their grocery budgets.
Moreover, penny-pinching consumers are hanging on to many of their recession-inspired shopping tactics in order to save money. Two out of three shoppers make lists before shopping and 56 percent read store fliers, according to SymphonyIRI.
On the other hand, 60 percent of shoppers say they eat out less often, down from 65 percent in 2010. Although value is still a prime purchasing motivator, the percentage of shoppers seeking out private labels to save money has slipped from 44 percent in 2010 to 36 percent, according to SymphonyIRI.
Shoppers aren’t just concerned about price when it comes to seeking value, citing quality, convenience, nutrition and health as part of the concept as well. More are altering their diets to include more plant-based foods for health and environmental reasons.
The 2010 Dietary Guidelines released in early 2011 also are prompting consumers to balance calorie intake with calorie usage, as well as to reduce refined grains and salt, and to eat more vegetables. Consumers are also paying more attention to products that have information on their packaging about natural and environmental claims, such as third-party certifiers for fair trade and non-GMO.
Supermarkets lost share to non-traditional grocery retailers in 2010 as mass, drug and dollar formats expanded their food items to attract shoppers. Smaller-format grocery stores, like WalMart’s Neighborhood Market, are propping up sales with more affordable prepared foods and fewer employees. Larger-format stores, such as Target’s PFresh locations, have expanded their grocery layout to include fresh produce and more private label and store-brand food items.
“What’s in Store” is a secondary research trends report compiled from 150 industry resources by IDDBA.