By: Mark Baum, Chief Collaboration Officer & Senior Vice President, Industry Relations, FMI

Convenience salad

Let's face it — our lifestyles are fundamentally different than they were in 2019. Our patterns have shifted, especially as it pertains to food, shopping and eating experiences. As a result, the food industry has a significant opportunity to connect with consumers' food and beverage, meal and snacking motivations. Our new work with Circana and Oliver Wyman, Finding Growth for Food & Beverage at Retail: Winning Eating Occasions throughout the Day, identifies how opportunities lie in catering to what matters most to consumers and supports go-to-market strategies and ways in which grocers along with their trading partners can attract more shopper relevance regarding needs, experiences, tastes, rewards, health — and especially convenience.

We can break down these motivations by dissecting eating dayparts:

Morning Meal Occasion

Consumers indicate that their aspirations for eating healthier are stronger in the morning, but this is also a time when grocery loses customers to quick-service competitors due to perceptions of convenience and the fact that our society is ever more mobile. The research identifies several ways to compete for a share of traffic by catering to the customer's "need for speed" during the week, with 67% of consumers saying they want their weekday morning meal in less than five minutes. For instance, solutions could include introducing and featuring more on-the-go options and leveraging dietitians to help communicate nutrition messaging.

Midday Meal Occasion

Time is particularly precious to shoppers when it comes to their midday eating, so grocers can focus on how they highlight value and convenience in packaging for work bags or backpacks to pre-assembled kits. Notably, the research offers recommendations on how to connect with the return-to-office crowd and suggests that GenZ and Millennials are searching for both convenience and bold flavors for this midday occasion.

Snacking Occasion

Have you ever considered a "snack station" in your store? This type of innovative thinking might be a creative way to test and introduce new flavors and packaging solutions with customers. The snacking portfolio also offers stores the prospect of fulfilling nutritional and overall well-being needs among shoppers and presents an opportunity to digitally connect with them via loyalty apps and rewards programs that drive engagement.

Evening Meal Occasion
Finding Growth for Food & Beverage Retail

Grocers can anticipate the proverbial question on all our minds at the end of the day — what's for dinner? — by focusing on speed-to-table and simple solutions that do not require consumers to shop for ingredients if they are not inclined to. Consumers told us that they want restaurant quality, even elevated, experiences at home that inspire while still allowing them to save money. Collaborative initiatives abound with recipes that leverage small appliances like air fryers, or even cross promoting food manufacturer recipes for web and social media. One of the authors of the report, Sally Lyons Wyatt, global EVP and chief advisor, consumer goods and foodservice insights, Circana, emphasized on a recent briefing to the FMI Board of Directors, "This is about occasions and about solutions." Lyons Wyatt further noted that this research underscored how motivations matter and that our industry has an opportunity to help inspire connections with friends or family.

FMI members have the resources and knowledge to innovate rather than simply emulate foodservice options. This latest research exploration identifies ways our industry should be refining how we communicate solutions that align with shoppers' changing lifestyles. Commissioned by the FMI Growth Forum, we pursued this initiative to support the playbook for our food and beverage product supplier members, along with the retailers, to enhance their trading partner collaboration, grow their businesses and better serve consumers.

Download the Report