Milk the new food trend?

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Phil Lempert, the Supermarket Guru, works closely with ConAgra Foods and its retailers to analyze and forecast trends in the food industry. Over the past two years, nine of Lempert's 10 annual predictions came true. What's in store for 2011?

"The updated USDA dietary guidelines - in conjunction with technological advancements and the First Lady's 'Let's Move' program - will mark 2011 as the year that empowered Americans to make permanent, positive changes in their diets," according to Lempert. "Finally, people will stop lasering in on single nutrients and begin approaching food holistically. As shoppers circle the aisles seeking foods rich in substance, vitamins and minerals, the brands that communicate clearly and genuinely will be poised for success."

Lempert has compiled his observations into six trends that Americans can expect to see in 2011:

Big Appetite for Apps: Value and convenience continue to top shoppers' lists, so in the New Year, consumers will utilize mobile food applications at every point in the grocery store. Instant messages boasting specials will target shoppers' likes and dislikes and offer savings. In the aisles, a scan of an item's bar code will provide detailed information to inform purchasing decisions, and at the checkout, mobile devices will "talk" to the self-checkout and download coupons, frequent shopper bonuses and deduct the total bill from the shopper's checking account. Also, the next generation of restaurant apps will allow visitors to pre-order from the menu.

Clear Claims: 2010's efforts to slim labels will continue as brands' ingredient statements shrink in length and feature simplified language. In response to shoppers' hunger for food information with substance, the look of the produce department will change dramatically as supermarkets add stickers directly onto pieces of produce to highlight the meaningful vitamins, minerals and fiber contained within.

D-licious: Driven by research emphasizing vitamin D deficiencies in Americans, look for naturally occurring vitamin D to be touted everywhere, stressing convenient sources of the important nutrient. This will be especially prevalent in the dairy aisle as milk gears up for a big comeback. When it comes to milk, this time around it's all about "white," as flavored, colored and sweet varieties make their way out.

Shift from Local to Regional: As consumers and retailers begin to understand that it is impossible to have all food produced within 100 miles of where they live, look for regional to emerge based on the tastes and culture of the areas where they're sold.

Big Easy Seafood: As the Gulf repairs itself, anticipate a spiritual and economic rally to support New Orleans and the region's seafood. Retailers will create major themed promotional events that extend well beyond Mardi Gras to position the Gulf Region as the new epicenter for food.

'Free Sample' Makeover: As the impact of the economy, rise of store brands and cost of R&D converge on bottom lines, brands will solicit meaningful customer input in an effort to offer great value while controlling new product failure rates. Companies will sample truly innovative products in stores before they hit the shelves as brands prepare to battle it out for shopper dollars.

For more information about Phil Lempert's predictions, visit supermarketguru.com.

Source: ConAgra Foods, Inc.



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