At this year’s Midwinter Executive Conference, we launched our newest campaign, “Let’s Put Our Plates Together.”
The focus of the campaign is to educate food retailers nationwide on the importance of family meals.
We all know that eating together as a family is important on many levels. Studies continue to show that eating together can have a positive influence on a child’s personal development.
Life in the United States has changed over the last few decades. The family dynamics have changed right along with it. Parents now work full time and kids have extracurricular activities leaving no time for families to prepare healthy meals and sit down together. So, why launch a campaign on this scale now?
In his latest post on FMIFamilyMeals.com, Frank Higgins, President of Nestlé Prepared Foods, said “Retailers have a crucial role to play in getting families to the dinner table more often.”
The role of the supermarket has also evolved over the years. They have become the center of our communities, a place of inspiration and a hub for wealth and knowledge when it comes to health & wellness. So, food retailers are the perfect advocates for family meals.
Watch our launch video and get inspired:
To learn more about "Let’s Put Our Plates Together," visit www.fmifamilymeals.com
Years ago, the grocery store was just a place where you picked up your food items for the week. Over the last few decades, consumers have become busier and savvier, thanks to advancements in technology.
Grocery stores have responded to this change, evolving into more than just a quick place to stop and instead becoming culinary centers.
Now more than ever, food retailers answer the new needs of their customers by implementing programs that teach consumers how to prepare healthy dishes at home. According to Family Speaks, a 2011 study conducted by FMI, 32% of retailers offer cooking classes in their stores, and that’s not all!
In-store chefs are all the rage! The demand for chefs in grocery stores continues to grow. These chefs are hired to prepare high quality meals for consumers.
Supermarkets do the prep work. Whether it’s marinating a pork loin or cleaning and chopping the vegetables, retailers have highly qualified cooks to perform these tasks.
The relationship between grocery stores and consumers goes beyond the store floor. The combination of social media, web, email and publications keep consumers informed about store offerings as well as offers, tips and quick recipes to prepare dishes at home.
Food retailers go mobile. Retailers like Giant and Wegmans, and many others have created apps that not only provide coupons, but allow consumers to create and manage shopping lists based on recipes they plan to prepare.
Finally, food retailers continue to use traditional means to educate consumers on cooking, including local media and community events.
What are you doing in your stores to make it easy for consumers to prepare meals at home?
Grocery retailers across the country are investing millions of dollars into their health & wellness (H&W) programs.
This past spring, United Supermarkets, a regional grocery chain based out of Texas, invested $1M to expand its H&W program. As part of the expansion, the company is implementing internal programs to keep its employees healthy. These include preventative screenings and new results-based team member wellness programs for employees.
Giant Eagle, a regional grocery chain based out of Pittsburgh, is another great example of how supermarkets are integrating H&W into their brand and corporate culture. The company’s H&W program includes free consultations with dietitians, preventative care clinics, health and fitness challenges, as well as other incentives like discounts at local gyms.
“Employees are our first priority,” says Brett Merrill, Senior Vice President of Giant Eagle. “To make something a part of your company’s core values and brand, you have to practice what you preach, and that’s what we are doing.”
The measures that retailers are taking will have a significant impact not only on the health of their individual employees but on the local stores and company overall. Healthy employees equal productive ones.
What are you doing to bring health and wellness into your company’s corporate culture?
An article recently published in the Huffington Post Eating Out Less shows that more and more Americans are choosing to dine at home rather than out.
According to the article, two out of five Americans are dining out less than earlier this year. Much of this can be attributed to the fact that many Americans are looking for ways to save money, choosing to stay in more and going out less for dinner.
So, how are food retailers helping families respond to this trend? According to a study released by FMI and Booz & Company, supermarkets are offering more value through a variety of ways:
The efforts that food retailers are not only helping Americans keep money in their wallets, but are bringing families together around the dinner table. Eating together can also have a positive impact on children’s development. Here’s how:
According to the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse The Importance of Family Dinners VI (CASA) at Columbia University, kids who have dinner with their families:
As more and more Americans become more frugal about spending, stores have an opportunity to not only provide value when it comes saving, but can help families plan their meal schedules.
Whether it’s picking up a rotisserie chicken and salad from the market or gathering ingredients for a Sunday meal, consumers are always looking for tips and advice when it comes to preparing meals for their families.
What are you doing at your stores to help consumers with their day-to-day meals?
The ability to separate real health trends from fads can lead the way to a profitable balance sheet. Shoppers have been exposed to a glut of information about healthy eating for many years. Unfortunately, this taxes the shoppers’ ability to make the right choices – the majority of the time. The old saying “an inch deep, but a mile wide” is a good descriptor of most shoppers’ knowledge about healthy eating.
The Prevention/FMI Shopping for Health study can help you cut across the threshold of recognizing trend from fad. Regarding the current gluten-free phenomenon, does the explosion of gluten-free products show companies have read the marketplace correctly or could this be another textbook case of over-expansion?
The SFH study reports that only seven percent (7%) of shoppers say gluten free is a concern to them, with practically no increase from our first measurement in 2010. While there has been a lot of press and arguable health benefits to avoiding wheat in your diet, the U.S. Department of Health and Humane Services reports approximately 2 million people in the United States have Celiac disease, or about 1 in 133 people. So the question to ask is why would someone without Celiac disease continue to purchase gluten-free products?
What is happening is shoppers’ are paying more attention to what is in their food rather than what is not in it. One-in-three shoppers (32%) say they are buying more foods based on their nutritional components vs. last year.
Some of the leaders in the “nutritional foods” segment are the protein content (in food) where thirty-three percent (33%) say this is important to them up 10 points since 2009. Whole grains have made tremendous inroads with shoppers, however, more have switched to eating whole grain bread fifty-five percent (55%) than they have with pasta twenty-six percent (26%) or rice twenty-five percent (25%). The real story for rice and pasta shows shoppers are switching between white and whole grain from time to time. More recently we have been tracking the Greek yogurt explosion – thirty percent (30%) say they purchase up 9 points from last year, no fad here.
One of the most important things we have learned doing the study is how selective shopper’s are when purchasing “healthier” foods. Taste is the lead factor, followed by nutritional benefit. Most shoppers employ what every President wishes they had when approving new legislation – a line item veto. The way this works is evident in our switch to whole grain foods, the majority have voted yes with bread, but not with rice and pasta.
Understanding what your customers are switching to vs. what they might try and wave goodbye to …is the way to increase your stores relevance to your shoppers. Anecdotally, almost everyone I speak to who has switched to Greek yogurt describes how they doctor it to their individual taste by adding items like fresh fruit to granola and raisins. Since Greek yogurt is a fast growing food your shopper’s are buying, stores could set up yogurt sample stations offering different fruit, nut, and granola toppings so they can mix and match to taste. This way their basket size increases with Greek yogurt plus the other toppings they just tried.
Cathy Polley, Vice President of Health and Wellness and Executive Director of the FMI Foundation, Talks to Brett Merrell and Steve Roden, FMI Health & Wellness Council’s Co-Chairs, on meeting the needs of today’s nutrition savvy customers
What drives consumer decision-making when it comes to food? The answer is nutrition. Last month, we released our “2012 Shopping for Health” study. According to the survey, 32 percent of shoppers reported that they are buying more foods based on nutritional components compared to one year ago.
This can be attributed to:
So, how are supermarkets meeting today’s consumer needs?
With an understanding that consumers are much more sophisticated now thanks to technology and access to more information than ever before, today’s grocery stores need to provide more than just products.
“We are living in age of wellness, and it’s not a short term trend,” says Brett Merrell, Senior Vice President of Health and Wellness for Giant Eagle, “Wellness is now fully integrated into the American culture; it’s a part of our lives.”
Giant Eagle, a regional grocery store chain based out of Pittsburgh, is making health and wellness an integral part of its overall brand and corporate culture.
“We are making health and wellness a part of the shopping experience,” says Merrell, “We have experts available to answer questions on the floor—everyone from dietitians to beauty experts. Our pharmacists are also trained to provide counseling.”
The grocery chain also hosts store events, participates in community activities and has a strong online presence through its website, social media and e-communications. Furthermore, Giant Eagle offers health and wellness programs to their employees.
“Savvy consumers seek recommendations, ask more questions or just need some advice from someone they trust,” says Steve Roden, President and CEO of Learn Something, the leading provider of custom eLearning solutions and consumer education for the food, drug and healthcare industries.
“Supermarkets are responding by educating employees to be more knowledgeable on everything from food safety and food prep to the specific products.”
It doesn’t stop there. Supermarkets are changing their dynamic, moving away from its traditional model that many of us have become familiar with over the years.
So, what can other food retailers do to meet consumer needs? Here are a few ideas to consider:
How are you meeting your customers’ health and wellness needs?
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