Event Buzz: Snack, Beverage & Grocery  9/7/2015

There is no doubt consumers are shopping a lot healthier these days. According to a study by ECRM and healthy living website HellaWella slated to be published in the October issue of Drug Store News (which owns HellaWella), they are reading labels more closely, buying more organic products, and thinking more about where food comes from and how it’s grown.

Indeed, as ECRM columnist David Diamond pointed out in his recent post, “The Organic/Gourmet Conundrum,” people shopping for food today are paying more attention to product attributes that indicate the wellness needs they are seeking (such as Gluten-free or other health claims), and less attention to former mainstays of packaging and brand name. In fact, packaging and brand name carry the least amount of purchase influence among health-minded consumers compared to other attributes such as health claims and ingredient listings, according to the ECRM/HellaWella study.

This was validated by comments from buyers and sellers who were interviewed during our Event Debriefings during ECRM’s recent Snack, Beverage, and Grocery event, held recently in Scottsdale. Attributes such as gluten-free, high-protein, organic, fat-free, sugar-free, low-salt and non-GMO were all key ingredients of the trend toward wellness that was evidenced across all three categories featured at the event. Some trends noted in this area include:

  • Packaging that strongly calls out the health benefits (the term, “clean labels” was mentioned by several attendees”)
  • Healthier ingredients are making their way into snacks, such as kale, quinoa, and coconut
  • Ready to eat popcorn is everywhere
  • Healthier products are much more in demand among millennial shoppers

Healthy food doesn’t mean bland food, however, and flavor remains extremely important among this better-for-you fare, according to event attendees. However, when it came to indulgence items – where it’s clear the consumer is not expecting these health attributes – flavor reigns supreme. (This is why candy and chocolates are still doing well even in today’s more health-minded environment). And shoppers are also seeking more exotic flavors, particularly those typically associated with other countries, which was very fitting, as this event was co-located with ECRM’s International Foods event, and sellers at both events featured internationally-sourced products, as well as those with internationally-sourced ingredients and spices.

Functional/Sustainable Beverages
When it comes to beverages, buyers and sellers at the event say that, as with grocery and snack items, “better for you” is better for them. Functional beverages with enhanced nutrients are in demand, and suppliers have developed some innovative products to meet this demand. We’ve seen the recent explosion of coconut water in stores, and now other types of enhanced water such as aloe water and maple water are being developed for this consumer. (I can tell you I did try some maple water from the folks at Kiki at the end of a long day and it did bring a little perk back). According to one attendee, growth with be faster in these categories because coconut water has blazed a path for them.

In the same manner, beverages that came in earth-friendly packaging, or – in the case of coffee – came from fair trade practicing sources, are also popular, and when it comes to coffee, single-serve is the way to go.

Not surprisingly, especially when you are dealing with many newer, smaller, or international suppliers, logistics is always a challenge, particularly getting freight costs down to get the products into the store. Sellers also not challenges in getting their products into the right warehouses, so if you have any ideas on how to address these items, we’d love to hear about them.

One additional challenge mentioned by several attendees was keeping up with the sheer velocity of product innovations happening in these categories. That’s one challenge I’m happy to let you know that we can help you with on ECRM’s Content Gateway. We’d like to be your source for new trends and products in the categories you serve, so sellers – please feel free to send us your new product announcements, which we will post regularly on the site. And buyers, keep checking back to learn about these products, as well as additional content to help you in your day-to-day activities!

Tell us how else we can help address your information needs! Call me at (440) 528-4207, or email me at jtarnowski@ecrm.marketgate.com

Register for next year’s events:

Snack & Dry Grocery: February 23 to 26, 2016 at Hyatt Regency Jacksonville Riverfront, Jacksonville, Fla.
Snack, Beverage & Grocery: July 25 to 27, 2016 at Hyatt regency Miami

Joseph Tarnowski

VP Content

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