New food chain emerging among consumers

01/18/2013 09:19:00 AM
Bill Bishop and Kerry Tucker

  • Buying local has the potential to further erode the aging marketing system. Locally sourced meats, seafoods and produce once again top the list of 20 culinary trends in foodservice, according to the National Restaurant Association’s annual survey of nearly 1,800 professional chefs. Nutrition, particularly in children’s meals, and sustainability are also cited in the top five of “What’s hot in 2013.”

  • Locally grown is a new opportunity for small- and medium-sized growers close to large- and medium-sized population centers. There’s market-centered production with producers marketing directly to consumers. Support is coming from retail grocery and foodservice, farmers markets, community supported agriculture, school districts and consumer direct. There’s an opportunity for producers to segment markets and build relationships. It’s a scalability revolution. You can start small and grow.
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    Chains are trying to catch up to consumers on two-way dialogue. The technology impact is clear in the consumer’s growing use of the Internet. As retailers and foodservice operators strive to catch up with the consumer and begin to take steps to use technology to promote their products to consumers, they are creating an entirely new communications network.

    The important characteristic of this is that the information on the network flows two ways — promotions go out to the consumer, and the consumer can express her/his needs, evaluation and frustrations back.

    At first blush, this may not sound like something that’s of potential value or even interest to a grower or shipper, but read a little more before you make that decision.

    Ask yourself three questions to find out where there’s potential value in all this for you.

    1. Do you know which consumers are the “heavy users” of your product? Chances are that they represent less than 20% of all the households that are buying your product, but account for more than 80% of the sales, and probably closer to 10% of your customers are buying 90% of your products.

    2. Do you have a good understanding of what the “heavy using” households are looking for from your product and what has been their experience with it? This will be important since it’s these shoppers who are the ones most likely to buy more of your product and who best understand what, beyond price, would encourage them to do that.



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