Consumers are increasingly turning away from processed foods toward fresh alternatives and especially produce, said three industry experts in the panel discussion, “Turning Customers into Consumers to Increase Consumption” at last weekend’s Fresh Summit held in Anaheim, California.
“The number one trend we see in terms of what’s going on with food culture is the move from packaged and processed foods to fresh, real, less processed foods,” said Laurie Demeritt, president and CEO of The Hartman Group. “It’s not a fad, it’s not a niche opportunity. It is a huge platform that we think is going to dramatically change the industry. And happily produce is the epicenter of what’s happening.”
Driving the trend is a fear about what goes into processed foods, said Tish VanDyke, general manager of food and nutrition at Edelman. “They’re worried about things like chemicals, sugar, high-fructose corn syrup, salt, etc., that they’re seeing in their foods,” she said.
“People are interested in getting something local that’s fresh and ready to go and that hasn’t necessarily gone through the supply chain,” added Karen Halliburton-Barber, assistant vice president and senior agricultural analyst at Rabobank.
Those sentiments were culled from a fresh food preference that’s been growing the past five to seven years. Consumers want to know that what they eat does not have an indeterminate shelf life but rather one that reflects freshness and wholesomeness.
“You know what they’re really worried about? How many days did that item sit on the back of a ship or a truck to get to me?” Demeritt said. (NACS: www.nacsonline.com)