By: Rick Stein, Vice President, Fresh Foods, Food Marketing Institute

More than ever before, consumers want to know where there food is from, what is in their food and even how their food will impact their lifestyles over time. The pressure to convey this information is especially relevant to supermarkets’ fresh departments, which recent FMI research demonstrates is continuing to grow and will continue for the next three-to-five years. 

In fact, in some departments where retailers were demonstrating valuable information to shoppers that met their demands for increased transparency, sales were as much at 40 percent stronger than the same department in a retailer that was not communicating the same product information. Since the fresh perimeter is the fastest growing part of the store, retailers are increasingly investing in developing strategies that will capture consumer dollars by ensuring their fresh foods resonate with that consumer.

The concept of merchandising locally-grown or sourced products is one area where successful retailers are not only identifying that product was local, but they are taking it one step further to educate the customer about the farm on which it was raised or grown. Some grocers are even providing the date the product was shipped and communicating the farmers’ address and name. 

Imagine a consumer’s surprise if she is shopping in a downtown Manhattan store and she learns the grocer’s Red Leaf Lettuce was grown and picked less than 25 miles away on Long Island. Or watch this same consumer at the meat counter – acutely aware of issues around health and wellness and animal welfare. Our research is demonstrating how all of this information is boosting sales when it’s available at the point of sale.

The Stein household is a bit of a microcosm of what’s happening in the grocery store down the block. I recently brought home a rotisserie chicken for dinner and my son asked me if it was organic, but since I didn’t know and couldn’t answer his question, my son chose to eat something else for dinner. But the communication breakdown wasn’t just with my millennial son: my wife refused to eat the produce I purchased the other day because it wasn’t from the nearby farm in Maryland. In the spirt of full transparency…I ate alone that evening.

FMI Fresh Foods Committee commissioned research by IRI into what are the TOP TRENDS in FRESH. The first trend of the 5 trends announced is that of Food Transparency in Fresh. A Link to the webinar recording from Jan. 28 can be found here.