Millennial consumers pose an interesting challenge for food retailers in that their desires, like those of all generations, are an amalgam of how old they are and the times in which they live. In some ways, their desires echo those of Boomers when they were young adults — except that millennials came of age in an era of rampant technology and mobility, and during a recession that hit them harder than most.

Their goals are not especially unique: They want to build careers, spend time with friends and travel. But millennial shopping and eating behaviors are exceptional, and as the largest generation since the Boomers, their choices have a big impact on overall consumer trends.

In that way, they are a sort of barometer for future consumer behavior and warrant retailers’ close attention. It’s worth knowing, for example, that millennials shop all channels and tend to go most regularly to stores in close proximity. (read more…)

Datassential, The Hale Group release early results from the operator purchasing impact report

When Sysco and US Foods announced plans to merge late last year, the news sent shockwaves through the industry — they are, after all, the top two foodservice distributors in the U.S., respectively. If approved, the merger will create a combined company with an estimated $65 billion in annual sales.

But what does the proposed merger mean for players throughout the industry? And how will it affect operator purchasing decisions — Sysco alone reports approximately 425,000 customers. In order to understand the far-reaching effects of the proposed merger, Datassential worked with leading industry consulting firm The Hale Group to create a series of three reports focusing on who operators buy from, what they buy, and why they buy in order to understand which operators will be impacted most and how they will alter their behavior.

According to early data from the first report in the series, which focuses on current purchasing behavior and operator expectations, operators are generally optimistic about the proposed merger. (read more…)

People often speak of Alice Waters as a leading light in the trend toward fresh, less processed food. Utilizing her now-famous restaurant Chez Panisse as a springboard, Waters pioneered — and politicized — a new way of thinking about food that chose as its motif the romance of an imagined, premodern past. “So successful was her recipe for authentic food that the values she braided together into Chez Panisse’s winning formula — fresh, local, seasonal, sustainable, traditional and simple — now seem inseparable,” Emma Marris observes in Slate.

Buy localAt first glance, the spoils of Waters’ victory can be found in many thousands of food trucks and farmers markets, and the millions of consumers demanding that their canned beans be local, whatever that means.

But are consumers putting these ideas into practice in the way Waters intended? We love our farmers markets, but are we there to trace the relationship of our food to its source, or do we just like to wander in the sunshine buying groovy-colored honey? (read more…)

Supply chain issues and traceability are hot topics across the food industry, from manufacturers to retailers to restaurants, and more efforts are being made to improve the supply chain and, ultimately, make food safer for consumers. Initiatives including the U.N. Global Compact and BSR’s traceability guide and GS1 US’s Retail Grocery Initiative highlight issues such as sustainability and visibility, but there is an additional concern for certain members of the food industry who have to consider things like refrigerated trucks and melting points — those who work with frozen foods and refrigerated supply chains.

The biggest challenge when it comes to working through the supply chain of refrigerated and frozen foods is managing supply and demand, according to Peter Riccio, vice president of milk procurement and internal farms for Horizon Organic.

Because milk supply fluctuates based on several factors including cows’ environments, health, feed and farms, those factors can’t always be controlled, he said. (read more…)

Despite the fact that women are underrepresented in leadership, organizations that hire more women leaders perform better than those that don’t, and companies in the consumer packaged goods industry are starting to take notice, according to the Women 2020 report from the Network of Executive Women. The report says that a diverse workforce helps foster innovative environments at CPG companies, and female leaders from Walgreen, PepsiCo, Kraft and Wal-Mart talked about the challenges they face and how their companies work to foster women leaders last week during a panel at FMI Connect.

Melissa Donaldson, director of diversity networks and communications at Walgreen, Trish Lukasik, senior vice president of PepsiCo Sales, Regenia Stein, NEW secretary and former Kraft Executive, and Kaitlin Wolfe, a regional director of operations for Wal-Mart, talked about the unconscious biases that women face in the workforce, including the “mom penalty,” career planning and appearance.

“I think it’s so critical that we understand what women face in business and that women help other women,” Wolfe said. (read more…)