With money tight, food shoppers using more care in what they put in their shopping cart.

Food shoppers remain “financially wary—and weary” and will continue to be conservative in their food-spending and eating behaviors this year, says A. Elizabeth Sloan, a nationally known expert in food science and nutrition.

But “it’s not all doom and gloom for food marketers,” Sloan says in this month’s journal of Food Technology.

Dr. A.E. Sloan

She says that 72 percent of all meals are now prepared in the home, rejuvenating sales in the once stagnant sectors of basic ingredients, home baking staples, and prepared mixes.

Sloan, former Editor-in-Chief of McCall’s and past-director of the Good Housekeeping Institute, says despite consumer claims of eating out less often, U.S. restaurant industry sales are projected to reach an all-time high of $604 billion after three years of declines. Also, she added, almost everything from fast-food eateries to the large majority of fine dining establishments say they plan to add new menu items this year.

Sloan, who is president of the trend-tracking and predictions firm Sloan Trends, Inc. sees increases in sales of ready-to-drink tea and coffee, snack/granola bars, and dried-meat snacks. The fresh and frozen foods departments also posted above average growth, led by frozen vegetables and refrigerated lunches as did small, indulgent treats, like cheesecake and frozen novelties which enjoyed brisk sales.

Top 10 Consumer Packaged Goods Growth Categories. Chart by Symphony IRI Group/IFT.

Sloan’s article in the publication of the Institute of Food Technologists, also listed these areas of increased sales:

  • Among the 10 largest areas of packaged goods, chocolate candy, salty snacks, and bottled water made significant gains last year.
  • New/unique varieties, recipes, and flavor combinations topped the list of claims found on some of the most successful new foods/drinks introduced from 2009 to 2010.
  • Packaging advances that permit microwave steam-cooking are now second only to flavor claims among the year’s best-selling new foods and beverages.
  • Selecting groceries to prepare nutritious/wholesome meals was a priority for food shoppers, second only to taste. As were purchasing products in order to help manage a specific health condition or to lose weight.

 

–The Food Watchdog staff

 


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