By: Rick Stein, Vice President, Fresh, Food Marketing Institute
Fresh Foods 2017

Food retailers understand that the fresh experience is dictated by the new expectations of a more engaged consumer, so it’s important for FMI to keep its finger on the pulse of the shopper, helping food retailers navigate consumers’ demands – and aspirations – for their produce, meat, seafood, bakery and foodservice items.

In order to better know our audience and the environment, our organization commissioned notable research across the fresh departments:

Power of Produce: Produce, a category that outpaces total store sales at $63 billion, increased in dollars 3.3 percent and grew in volume 2.6 percent over the 52 weeks ending March 19, 2017. The analysis identified the catalysts for growth and increased trips as primarily due to produce purchases among Millennial shoppers and purchases of more value-added, organic and branded items. We presented the research at NY Produce Show, Southeastern Produce Council and at the Amsterdam Produce show. The content will support the keynote speech at the annual SEPC meeting in March 2018.

Power of Fresh Prepared/Foodservice: The analysis explored ways retailers can become a prepared foods destination, much like a restaurant, which will help drive trips when the shopper did not plan to make a grocery visit as well as prompt trips among secondary or new shoppers. The report also explored, with a presentation by Time Food Solutions (TFS), use of digital to attract consumers to their foodservice offerings. TFS showed the group how best to present prepared recipes on their respective digital platforms.

Top Trends in Fresh: The exploration with research partner IRI found that retailers that implement identified strategies in response to the following trends will succeed in driving growth in 2017 and beyond: Holistic Health; Social and Cultural Alignment; Atomization of Personalization; Hyperlocalization; and Customization to the New Consumerism. As a compendium, IRI also produced a white paper that summarizes the webinar information (available on demand via FMI’s webinar recordings).

Power of Meat: Presented at the Annual Meat Conference and in partnership with the North American Meat Institute, the analysis found that during the deflationary environment, price relief is driving a greater willingness for experimentation and premium product purchases among consumers.

FMI recognizes that it’s not just trends that shape the market. Since the regulatory and legislative environments influence the grocery landscape, FMI’s government relations and food safety teams work together closely with our fresh community on issues such as chain restaurant menu labeling, catfish imports regulation and implementation of the Food Safety Modernization Act.

Ultimately, the FMI fresh community serves as the brain trust for our research and strategic endeavors, embracing the ideas among the participating 20 retailers and 40 suppliers and third-party providers. With FMI serving as its conduit, the fresh community now has an advisory seat on the Pork Board Retail Advisory group and on the Monsanto Veg Seed Industry Advisory Council. The community also offers best practices and directives, as evidenced by the FMI Seafood Committee’s publication of a Best Practices to Prevent Seafood Fraud white paper, which resulted from a collaborative effort among our members and industry stakeholders. The paper will be presented at the 2018 Seafood Expo in Boston in March.

In 2017, FMI’s research demonstrated that fresh is well-positioned to align business operations with rising shopper trends. And, as the pulse of our community grows in strength among companies and stakeholders, it will help food retail keep pace with the evolving consumer. These industry collaborations and efforts will continue to yield needed intellectual property, and FMI will remain the freshest source of information.