Almost every sector of the food and beverage industry (restaurant operators, food retailers and CPG brands) is intently focused on “the breakfast occasion.” And for good reason: ongoing Hartman Group tracking of food and beverage occasions shows that almost a third (32%) of eating and drinking events occur in the morning.

In our contemporary eating culture there are fewer rules about what to eat and drink. We often idealize having three balanced meals but rarely actually eat that way. This explains why we now see half of all eating and drinking occasions classified by consumers as snacking occasions. America’s cultural transition to a snacking culture is altering consumers’ shopping and eating behaviors and changing the meaning of the breakfast daypart.

When we take a deeper look at the 32% of morning meal or snack occasions, we find that consumers describe 15% of these as “breakfast,” 8% as pre-breakfast “early morning snacks” and 9% as post-breakfast “morning snack.”

Whether viewed as morning snack or meal, with about a third of eating occasions occurring in the morning, the cultural transformation of breakfast is unleashing new business opportunities for diverse food and beverage marketers. (read more…)

There is no doubt that sourcing food locally is a hot topic for restaurateurs, chefs and their customers. In fact, of all the trends captured in the National Restaurant Association’s What Hot Culinary Forecast this year, locally sourced meats and seafood were among the most popular.

Purchasing these items is a great way to get fresh product and it also helps tell an enticing story to customers who want to know where and when a fish was caught or if the bacon they’re eating was supplied by the farmer down the road.

One issue that remains though: Just because food is local, that doesn’t mean it is better for the environment. So, how do you source food that is both local and better for the environment?

At our annual NRA Show, the Conserve team organized local food sourcing panels to discuss this topic in detail. We gathered advice from three local food education sessions from previous NRA Shows. (read more…)

From technology to fresh foods to branding strategy, Food Marketing Institute‘s FMI Connect had food retailers buzzing about industry hot topics. Among those topics was a focus on meals, which was a theme carried through keynote addresses, education sessions and the show floor.

At the center of the focus on meals at FMI Connect was FMI’s upcoming National Family Meals Month initiative, which will take place in September and employ retailers to help with the goal of getting families to share one more meal per week at home with food from home eaten together, FMI President and CEO Leslie Sarasin said during her keynote on Wednesday. According to recent research she presented, there have been major demographic, economic and culture shifts that have all led to significant changes in what American households look like.

“The concept of the family has shifted,” Sarasin said. “We have to broaden the scope of what we as an industry imagine a family to be.”

For example, there are fewer households with children now, and more households of one. (read more…)

Social media has become an important platform for supermarkets to engage with customers, but retailers need to learn to balance the control they have historically exercised over their communications against the power that their employees and customers wield on sites like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Pinterest.

In many cases, it is the customers who are diving the conversation, and often it is to the benefit of supermarket operators, according to three food retailers on a panel on social media at the Food Marketing Institute’s FMI Connect show in Chicago.

Hy-Vee, the regional supermarket chain based in West Des Moines, Iowa, has a strong customer following for the Chinese food it offers in its stores. These fans have coined the term “Hy-Chi” for the hot, prepared offering, and several years ago began posting messages on social media using that term with the hash tag #HyChi. These posts were often accompanied by descriptions of customers’ cravings for the food or the satisfaction it delivers. (read more…)

The shopping list is a common tool for consumers, who often shop for groceries with a focused and definite goal in mind. And while getting them to stray from buying only the items on their lists can be a difficult task, it is certainly not an impossible one. But are retailers and manufacturers really doing all they can to inspire impulse buys? According to Bill Dusek, managing director at Dechert-Hampe & Co., and Ron Hughes, senior manager of shopper strategy and innovation at The Coca-Cola Company, who covered the topic at FMI Connect in Chicago this week, there is more that can be done to spur shoppers to put those last-minute items in their baskets.

Last year, front-end sales accounted for about $6.4 billion of the total spend at supermarkets, according Dusek, and beverages, confections and magazines mostly drive front-end sales for food retailers across formats.

“The front end is a big, big business,” he said. (read more…)