While the pandemic-driven increase in online usage has continued, more shoppers have learned how best to navigate a hybrid landscape, according to a recent FMI analysis.
FMI – The Food Industry Association has issued the fourth installment of FMI U.S. Grocery Shopper Trends 2022, “Future Outlook,” which focuses on the ways that various forces continue to shape how we eat, what we eat and how we obtain food.
“Our relationship with food continues to be complicated due to a host of factors, including a strained economy, a continued pandemic, ongoing supply chain issues, adoptions of new technology, and how we hold ourselves accountable for our food choices and our overall approach to eating,” observed Leslie G. Sarasin observed, president and CEO of Arlington, Va.-based FMI.
The analysis indicates opportunities for grocers, added Sarasin, noting: “We’re still cooking at home more than ever before, but our enthusiasm for doing so has waned to pre-pandemic levels, suggesting consumers are looking for fresh prepared and ready-to-prep meal inspirations and solutions to address their inconsistent schedules and tightening budgets.”
Most consumers said that they plan their meals ahead, and that meal preparation is speeding up. Three-quarters (74%) said that it takes under an hour to prepare their meals, and 30% said that they spend less than 30 minutes, a shorter time than in recent years. Forty-eight percent of consumers also told FMI that they follow a specific approach to eating, incorporating certain principles that reflect kindness to oneself, an awareness of holistic wellness, and mindfulness as to how food makes them feel.
Shoppers said that their healthy eating habits are still strong, despite fewer of them putting in the extra effort to do so, as 28% of Americans told the trade organization that they put a lot of effort into choosing nutritious and healthy options, while 48% put in some effort (versus 36% and 46%, respectively, in 2021).
Shoppers also hint that they’ll be more selective about where they invest their food dollars as inflation continues to affect consumers’ relationship with food. The number of shoppers noting a rise in grocery spending climbed nine points, from 37% in 2021 to 46% 2022. Last year’s figure related to the shift toward food at home, while this year’s increase factors in food inflation, although the survey was actually fielded before inflation grew more aggressive.
While the pandemic-driven increase in online usage has continued, more shoppers have learned how best to navigate a hybrid landscape. Shoppers said they plan their meals in advance more and shop online more, with little indication of a return to pre-pandemic practices. “Future Outlook” implies that in the longer term, food retailers will need to adapt to shopper expectations that place the consumer in control in relation to the online experience, while in-person store visits will need to accentuate convenience.