OMAHA, Neb., Nov. 21, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Millennials, health-conscious shoppers and a shift in consumer palates set the stage for what's to come in the food world this year according to Supermarket Guru, Phil Lempert. For 2014, Lempert, who works closely with ConAgra Foods, Inc. (NYSE: CAG) and its retailers, predicts that the most dramatic food changes will stem from the ever-changing consumer and their relationships with merchants, brands and food.
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"How consumers interact with their food and favorite brands will continue to evolve as we head into 2014," says Lempert. "Shoppers are looking for convenient, healthful and satisfying food for themselves and their families, and brands will rise to meet these demands through product innovation and the use of mobile technology to make shopping faster and more convenient."
Lempert sees these 10 trends gaining attention from consumers in 2014:1. The Emergence of the "IndieWoman": Almost 31 million strong, the "IndieWoman" will be a major food influencer. These women are 27 and older, live alone and have no children. When they are not busy being social or growing their careers, they also enjoy shopping. According to a Milo.com survey, these women have strong affiliations to brands and love to hunt for bargains. When it comes to their supermarket habits, "IndieWomen" spend $50 billion on food and beverages each year. Time is of the essence for the "IndieWoman," so look for more brands to cater to this powerful consumer who wants to cook, but might not have the time for a homemade meal every night. A ConAgra Foods survey conducted by SupermarketGuru.com, found that 59 percent of respondents purchased multi-serve frozen meals because of their busy schedules. Because this group is increasingly busy, brands will cater to this demographic through more semi-homemade meals that use fresh-tasting, high-quality ingredients like P.F. Chang's Home Menu® or Bertolli® frozen meals. 2. Better for You Snacking: When researching the association between daily snacking frequency and the Healthy Eating Index 1, researchers from the NPD Group recently found that as snacking increased, so did individuals' overall diet quality. As a result, healthy options for consumers are on the rise with nearly 60 percent of all snack foods now positioned as better for you, according to Innova Market Insights. Look for supermarkets to capitalize on the healthier snacking trend in 2014 by replacing traditional higher-sugar, higher-fat snacks at the checkout with better-for-you on-the-go offerings such as DAVID® seeds, flavored nuts and trail mix, Orville Redenbacher's® ready-to-eat popcorn, H.K. Anderson® pretzels and Snack Pack® pudding fortified with calcium. 3. Brands Reach Consumers Locally Through Cause Initiatives: In 2013, consumers heard a lot about real, transparent and simple foods. In 2014, brands will extend this feel-good simplicity by finding greater purpose in serving the larger community. A survey recently conducted by ConAgra Foods found that 62 percent of consumers appreciate and want to support companies that donate to important social causes. In 2014, look for food brands to increasingly focus on community outreach. ConAgra Foods has led the charge against child hunger in America for the past 20 years through education, food and monetary donations equaling more than $60 million and equating to 315 million pounds of food. In 2010, the brand launched the Child Hunger Ends Here program in partnership with Feeding America, and has already donated the monetary equivalent of more than 13 million meals to children with a goal of an additional five million meals in 2014. 4. Click to Cook: As consumers continue to rely on technology for the sake of convenience and saving time, people will begin to rely more on their mobile phones when grocery shopping. In a recent online ConAgra Foods survey, one third of consumers reported using their mobile phone while at the grocery store, most often to refer to shopping lists and recipes. Technology will continue to play an important role for shoppers as the next phase of technology will offer the ability to select a recipe, order ingredients and check-out directly from mobile devices or in-car touch screens. Watch for grocery retailers to install drive-through windows for quick order pickup. Additionally, consumers will increasingly turn to online shopping sites for mealtime staples like Hunt's® canned tomatoes, Egg Beaters® natural egg whites and Rosarita® beans. They will also use tools like ReadySetEat.com, which allows users to not only find recipes, but also nearby deals on the ingredients. 5. Supermarkets--The New Culinary Schools: To add value in an increasingly competitive food retailer environment, supermarkets are becoming the center of communities. Taking a cue from what is already occurring in the social media food world, grocery stores are beginning to offer services such as "community cooking centers" where shoppers can collaborate and learn from each other. These social environments are the perfect place for the aging Millennial population as they are a group that likes to cook, but doesn't necessarily have the skills to make elaborate meals at home. As consumers are looking for a more "connected culture," retailers will begin rethinking the layout of the supermarket. We'll see them offering solution centers where all of the ingredients for certain recipes are found together to bring the recipe-making experience in-store, such as placing Hunt's tomatoes next to Kraft® Parmesan Cheese for the perfect pasta dish. Food companies, like ConAgra Foods, will work with retailers to understand consumer purchase habits and how to best reach shoppers in-store.