By Steve Markenson, Vice President, Research & Insights, FMI
While vacationing at the beach, we dined at a famous, local restaurant known for its all-you-can eat fresh seafood. As I waited to fill my plate with fresh shrimp and crab legs, the gentleman in front of me filled his plate beyond what I thought was capacity. I returned to our table with my more reasonable portion of seafood and my new “friend” was sitting at the table across from us. As I enjoyed my meal, I could not help but notice as he masterfully approached his plate full of food with skill and efficiency.
I share this full plate story because it relates to the 74th The Food Retailing Industry Speaks report. Looking at the table of contents for the report shows the food industry, like the gentleman at the buffet, has a lot on its plate including several formidable challenges – a changing workforce, inflation, supply chain hurdles, new government regulations, global conflicts, more intense competition, and evolving consumer buying habits. Many of these challenges are reflected in the top 10 takeaways from this year's report:
- Inflation sparks value initiatives.
- Strengthening our industry’s workforce.
- Strategies aimed to boost customer engagement.
- Fresh foods momentum accelerates.
- New efforts to address supply hurdles.
- Technology supports a range of needs.
- Retailers fine-tune ecommerce strategies.
- Managing costs to enhance results.
- Driving improved in-store experiences.
- Prioritizing charitable contributions, diversity and waste reduction.
But, like my friend at the seafood restaurant, the food industry continues to amaze with innovative approaches to battle these and other challenges. The industry is working hard to future-proof businesses by tapping into lessons learned over the past few years. Some of the approaches they are taking include:
- Investing in staffing and retention to prioritize workforce.
- Refocusing on innovation for supply and assortment.
- Expanding supply capacities after years of falling short.
- Prioritizing omnichannel efforts rather than just e-commerce or in-store.
- Expanding foodservice initiatives for customer meal solution needs.
- Accelerating digital communications with shoppers.
- Enhancing the technology skills of senior leaders.
The Food Retailing Industry Speaks report delves into each of these headlines and approaches, while providing a range of metrics for the industry to measure themselves against such as turnover, shrink, profits, expenses, sales per square foot, online sales metrics and more. The report is really a must-read for the food industry not only to see what is on the industry’s plate but also to support business strategy development and progress benchmarking.