By: Rick Stein, Vice President, Fresh Foods, Food Marketing Institute
berries and holistic health

You pay for it now or you pay for it later – that is, when it comes to your health. These are the words from a consumer recently interviewed by IRI for our 2018 Top Trends in Fresh, which point to a struggle that is playing out every day in the food retail environment. Sixty-five percent of consumers indicate that holistic health is important to them this year, and the wellness trend is growing across generations, but they need solutions for how to make their aspirational goals more accessible.

In a presentation by Sally Lyons Wyatt and Larry Levin of IRI at FMI Midwinter Executive Conference, they revealed insights into the consumer psyche and how they relate to the fresh opportunities in-store that address “food as medicine” and convenience. For instance, younger generations are increasingly finding value in home remedies because they are reportedly more transparent and a way of taking ownership of their own health maintenance. Wyatt stressed that these same home remedy solutions could be a convenient, in-store solutions.

Holistic health has become more popular with consumers as evident by retailers witnessing sales increases on specific items with health halos. For example, according to IRI, at $6.5 billion in annual sales, the berry category ranks number-one in total produce sales. Antioxidant properties, taste and year-round availability all contribute to the popularity of berries.

As another example of how holistic health is driving demand, IRI presenters noted that farmers markets and specialty stores are attractive to consumers because these purveyors have content experts. When I visit my neighborhood farmers market, I can literally talk to the cheese monger who raises goats or the botanist who makes and sells herbal teas. These types of environments can be mirrored in a store or ecommerce strategy.

In addition to the convenience demands in approaches to holistic health, there’s also evidence and desire for more education. Recipes in the fresh departments or literally telling consumers how to peel and enjoy a pomegranate help empower shoppers to try new, healthier foods and give people meal solution ideas. Notably, consumers also expressed a need to better understand how to store and save their fresh products to help them last longer.

During 2018, IRI and FMI are hosting five top trends in fresh educational webinars, kicking off on Feb. 22 and concluding in October. Because today’s consumers want to improve and maintain their overall health and well-being and do so in a way that is convenient for them, the first webinar will focus on “Holistic Health and Convenience.” Register for the Feb. 22 webinar here.