DALLAS — The future will be a lot like the present, only more so.
Fred Morganthall, chairman of the Food Marketing Institute and president of North Carolina-based Harris Teeter, gave a vision of the future for retailing May 1 at the 2012 United Fresh Produce Association show.
Supermarkets in 2002 were not all that different than stores now. For example, predictions of widespread adoption of radio frequency identification tags in distribution centers and steep reductions in the number of cashiers have failed to materialize.
Morganthall said there will continue to be “bricks and mortar” supermarkets in 10 years, but retailers and most manufacturers will move into Web-based sales to their consumers.
Large suppliers like Proctor & Gamble will ship products to consumers directly, he said. Morganthall predicted Amazon will challenge Wal-Mart as the top retailer in the country, and he said smartphones will be the wallet for consumers.
After pleading with the audience to share best practices for produce safety with competitors, he predicted that in ten years there will be greater certainty that produce is safe to eat.
Local foods will continue to be important to consumers, and Morganthall said retailers will focus on merchandising all the ingredients of a meal together for consumer convenience.