By: Leslie Sarasin, President and CEO, FMI
More than any other holiday, Thanksgiving remains food centric. It is a celebration of the human need FOR food, celebrated WITH food. True to its historic roots as a triumphant feast expressing gratitude for a bountiful harvest and newly-formed friendships, Thanksgiving traditions continue to be grounded both in what is on the table and who is around the table.
Thanksgiving is the consummate family meal. It bears all the nutritional, emotional, mental, and social merits that are accrued when we gather at table sharing a common need of physiological substance, and surprisingly discover that our minds and souls are also getting fed by the connections reestablished and the conversations experienced. Even as our definition of family expands with some opting to celebrate the original American holiday in the form of a Friendsgiving, the core value remains of sharing meaningful sustenance with loved ones. For many of the more preparatory minded - the connections driven by the Thanksgiving meal occur well before the food hits the table. It starts with the sharing of recipes, discussing menu options, forming plans for the feast, and includes the joy of preparing the meal together – even if that does involve some heated negotiations about the order in which things must go into the limited oven space. The holiday joy of the Thanksgiving meal, for some, is in the journey. For others, it’s in the destination.
Thanksgiving food traditions remain strong with an almost genetic determination to them. They may differ with each of us, but everyone has his or her favorite dish that must be on the table; otherwise, it just isn’t Thanksgiving. For some it’s the turkey, for others it’s cornbread dressing, for many it’s the sweet potato casserole complete with mouth scalding marshmallows, and for others with a discerning sweet tooth, it’s all about the dessert options. The dish may differ from person to person but all share in Thanksgiving’s strong sense of culinary traditions, food memory, and taste driven nostalgia.
As Americans gathers at the Thanksgiving table this week, we find ourselves in a time of great economic uncertainty with inflation influencing food prices. But consumers are teaming with their favorite retailers to keep Thanksgiving celebrations strong and vibrant this year.
The food industry is working alongside the 71% of grocery shoppers who indicate they’re taking measures to adjust their holiday meal shopping to address the higher food prices. Shoppers are finding retailers to be valuable partners in helping them better plan ahead and shop early to lessen the possibilities of out-of-stocks. On top of those strategies, shoppers’ most popular economizing tactics include looking for the bargains (28%), turning to private labels and store brands as more economical options (21%); and my personal favorite, 17% have figured out they don’t have to be the only one cooking and bearing the brunt of the food bill themselves, so they’re taking a pot-luck approach to their Thanksgiving.
Please know that as the Sarasin family gathers at our Thanksgiving table, one of the many thanks I will be offering is gratitude for having the good fortune to work with some of the finest people on earth who are committed to the noble enterprise of keeping America fed with safe, healthy, and economic food products. Thank you for all you do, and I hope you enjoy a gratitude-filled Thanksgiving with your loved ones.