By Rick Stein, Vice President, Fresh Foods, FMI
This year I was honored to speak on the main stage of the 2023 International Deli Dairy Bakery Association conference where I shared key findings from our 2022 Power of In-Store Bakery report. It was exciting to see that many of our research findings line up with IDDBA’s Guiding Trends for 2023.
Whole Heath, Heart and Self
Both FMI and IDDBA find that though consumers are still very health conscious, almost everyone would agree that letting yourself have a sweet treat from time to time is okay and can even be seen as beneficial from a mental health standpoint. In turn, consumers that want to treat themselves, want to treat themselves well. Indulgent items made with high-quality “real” ingredients are sought after—indicating there is no need to hide that the cake is made with butter or three different kinds of chocolate. We also see health-minded consumers continue to seek health-conscious ingredients like whole grains.
Consumers Defined Convenience
The COVID-19 pandemic showed us all new ways of living and made us prioritize things in ways we never had before. As we move forward, we see these new priorities settle into routines for the consumer. It is important for us to meet these new needs by learning more about our customers and to make sure we do what is best for them. For example, saving the consumer time with desserts and items they can buy fully prepared is a real convenience that customers are willing to pay for.
ESG is no longer an option for many consumers—it’s table stakes. Organizations that have these values baked into the fabric of their products will resonate with consumers and reap the benefits. The bakery is fueled by lots of impulse purchases, so make sure your packaging has messages that communicate your organization’s values and priorities to the customer as they browse shelves.
Worth the Value
There is lots of talk around value these days and the clear takeaway for us is that value is no longer a race to the bottom dollar. Much like convenience, consumers’ perspectives on value are becoming highly unique, even in the face of rising costs. Meeting the consumers’ needs is what defines value now. If you can save them time, create a unique experience, or adapt to their changing lifestyle they will assign value to your product or store.
Technology and Innovation
At FMI we place technology and innovation at the center of our matrix of imperative issues. The purpose of that placement is that technology and innovation are touching everything else we do. Technology will help food retailers and suppliers tap into information and ultimately meet your consumers’ needs on all the topics listed above. At the same time, technology can help connect you with your consumers to show them you are meeting their needs and more. Staying ahead on all the ways you can leverage technology in your organization will have great outcomes as time goes on.
Next month, FMI will host FreshForward in Denver CO. This is an action-oriented conference where we work towards tackling important concepts in fresh foods. This year’s issues are ecommerce, meal planning, and Gen Z.