What's New on Your Supermarket Shelf?
Health, convenience prime concerns for consumers
Natural and organic foods used to be found primarily in health food stores,
but today they line the aisles in most major grocery chains. Gone are the
bruised and often unappealing selections, making way for the competitively
priced evolution of organic private-label store brands.
"There is a growing awareness that organic foods are more than just
pesticide-free, and even if it costs more, the benefits to the consumer become
real," says Lempert. "The volume and efficiency of the emerging
private-label foods have kept the prices to 10%-15% more than
Taste and nutrition, as much as ecological considerations, are driving the
move toward organic, experts say. Consumers want familiar products that taste
better and are priced competitively, like Frito-Lays' line of natural
"When Mom buys organic, she is looking for wholesome nutrition, not
necessarily foods with the least impact on the environment," says
Hundreds of products are now labeled "organic," "natural,"
"homestead," "farmstead," "toxin-free" or "hormone
free." But these aren't all necessarily better for you or the environment.
The only term regulated by the government is "organic"; all the others
are at the discretion of the manufacturer, says McDonald.
No one seems to have time to cook anymore, so consumers want good nutrition
packaged conveniently. And, of course, these foods need to be
"Moms want solutions and convenience to buy them more time to spend with
their families," says Gilbert.
Popular products include snackable items like drinkable yogurts as well as
grab-n-go foods that make it easy to throw together meals in no time. Already
cooked, preseasoned, and "halfway homemade" are the hottest trends,
according to McDonald. And quick-cooking doesn't rule out upscale, she
"There are more sophisticated and innovative flavors across all food
varieties that are quick and easy to prepare," she says.
According to the Institute for Food Technology, grocery stores now abound
with delicate flavors and global influences to help meet our demand for quick
meals with interesting flavors. Look for upscale salad mixes and prepackaged
dinners, gourmet tuna, fancy cheeses, and gourmet vinegars and sauces.