By Rick Stein, Vice President, Fresh, Industry Relations, Food Marketing Institute
Rapidly evolving technologies and consumer preferences are having profound effects on the grocery industry. This is evident throughout the store, but some of the biggest obstacles and opportunities lie within the fresh category. Fresh presents unique challenges to grocery ecommerce as well as to automation, and the quality and variety of a retailer’s fresh selection are significant differentiators. Whatever else changes, fresh will continue to play a vital role in food retail, even as technology enables new products and sources.
For a chance to hear from innovators focused on fresh in these changing times, I’m excited that FMI is participating in the second annual Groceryshop conference, September 15-18, 2019, at the Venetian in Las Vegas. Groceryshop brings together 3,000 leaders from established and emerging brands, grocery retailers, investors and more who want to understand and embrace innovation. Here are some program highlights related to fresh:
- In a Groceryshop keynote, Seth Goldman, executive chair of Beyond Meat, speaks on the growth of consumer interest in perishable plant-based proteins.
- Marc Oshima, the co-founder and chief marketing officer of AeroFarms, discusses how indoor, hydroponic farms can grow produce closer to the shopper.
- Speaking directly to the fresh category’s role as a differentiator and a driver of store traffic, Marcia Webb, vice president of retail sales at Nielsen, presents research titled “How Fresh Departments Continue to Drive Total Store Success.”
- Several Groceryshop speakers explore ways technology is changing how fresh products are handled, both in-store and across the supply chain.
- Ramesh Gopinath, vice president of blockchain supply chain solutions at IBM, updates the audience on an industry initiative to use blockchain to improve food safety and traceability.
- Martha Montoya, co-founder and CEO of AGTools shares how her technology startup leverages machine-learning to deliver detailed, specific intelligence on produce pricing and availability for both buyers and growers.
- Frank Scorpiniti, CEO of Earth Fare, speaks to serving health-and wellness-conscious consumers, while working to raise the health-consciousness of all shoppers.
- Lisa Sedlar, CEO of Green Zebra Grocery, describes how the need to make fresh foods more convenient motivated her to establish her chain of c-stores in Portland, Oregon.
The FMI team is hosting co-located sessions at Groceryshop, including omnichannel-focused topics. FMI session speakers include Amy McClellan, senior vice president, retail, Martin’s Super Markets and Erin Dress, Walmart omnichannel team lead, Unilever. My colleague Doug Baker presents findings with our FitForCommerce partner on how food retailers are delivering on customer expectations for unified shopping experiences across digital (online and mobile), in-store and cross-channel criteria.