Grocery Tracker: 2017 Food Predictions

To kick off this week’s Grocery Tracker, a reminder that brick-and-mortar is still kicking in certain retail aspects, even as 2017 grows closer. A recent Harris Poll of American shopping habits shows that, while 2016 was a big year for eCommerce, the vast majority of consumers still largely prefer to shop in physical stores for particular personal care items.

Ninety-one percent of consumers shopped for hair styling products, shampoos and conditioners in physical stores. For cosmetics, 90 percent purchased in-store, and 87 percent purchased sunscreen in-store. Mass merchandisers are still the top purchase locations for all cosmetic and beauty products surveyed.

Another survey, this time conducted by Ingredient Communications, confirms suspicions lingering in the back of Big Food and grocers’ minds: Consumers prefer to know what’s in their food and are willing to pay for it. For example, an NDP Group study found that, while half of consumers in 2013 were unaware of GMOs, that percentage has declined to a little more than a third.

In a poll of food buyers across North America, Europe and the Asia-Pacific region, Ingredient Communications found that, if price was no object, 76 percent of consumers were more likely to buy products with readily recognizable ingredients.

Factoring in cost, 73 percent of consumers said they would pay a higher retail price for food and drink products made with readily recognizable ingredients. Quantifying that a bit further, 52 percent of respondents said they would spend over 10 percent more for familiar ingredients, while 18 percent reported they would pay an additional 75 percent or more.

Richard Clarke, director of Ingredient Communications, was quoted as saying: “Co-branding of ingredients in the food and beverage industry is still fairly unusual, yet our survey suggests it would resonate with many consumers. Marketing finished products that contain ‘branded’ ingredients that consumers recognize could be key to commanding a substantial price premium in-store.”

Notably, consumers in the U.S. were far more likely to be willing to pay higher prices — 44 percent reported they would pay 75+ percent premiums for recognizable ingredients, along with consumers in India (32 percent), the Philippines (29 percent) and Malaysia (26 percent). With increased labeling legislation, growing GMO concern and even a growing interest in co-branding in the food industry, consumers worldwide might want to expect food labels to be a bit more comprehensible in the coming years.

Speaking of the coming years, as 2016 quickly comes to a close, search-and-save social media site Pinterest has analyzed user searches, trends and data from its food and drink categories to compile the likely food trends for upcoming 2017. Don’t read the below on an empty stomach.

According to Pinterest’s report, using jackfruit as a meat substitute saw a 420 percent increase in year-over-year interest across its users, signaling that this could be a staple vegetarian option at restaurants, grocery stores and dinner parties in 2017. Buddha bowls — a dish made with various greens, raw or roasted vegetables, beans and a healthy grain — came next, at 200 percent. Looks like fruits and veggies are in for 2017.

Naan pizza, using the traditional Indian flatbread as a pizza base, saw searches rise 175 percent. Next in line comes 2017’s potential answer to junk food’s makeover: Zucchini chips saw an 83 percent rise in 2016, overthrowing former crown holder kale chips. Other Pinterest trends included searches for sauerkraut, octopus and olive oil alternatives. If there was any doubt, the Pinterest data shows, once again, that foodies are looking toward healthier alternatives.


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