Specialty Food Magazine

Summer 2018

Specialty Food Magazine is the leading publication for retailers, manufacturers and foodservice professionals in the specialty food trade. It provides news, trends and business-building insights that help readers keep their businesses competitive.

Issue link: https://specialtyfoodmagazine.epubxp.com/i/986636

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EDITOR'S LETTER Community and Connection: Specialty Retail's Past and Future SUMMER 2018 1 SPECIALTY FOOD ASSOCIATION MEMBERS: Discuss this topic in the Solution Center on specialtyfood.com I n this issue, we release highlights of our new State of the Specialty Food Industry research. This revamped report looks at many aspects of our business including five-year category forecasts, cur- rent market status (in dollar and unit sales), and the consumer preferences and habits driving all of it. Denise Purcell Editor, Specialty Food Magazine dpurcell@specialtyfood.com At the center is the evolving specialty food consumer. These core shoppers are primarily millennials, but a younger group—the iGeneration, ages 18-23—is emerging and show- ing different enough tastes and attitudes to shift the market. iGens shop everywhere for specialty foods. That means online, certainly, but also in club, convenience, and discount channels. The convenience of getting what they want, where they are, are big drivers, but these consumers also frequently seek value. While they want high-quality foods made by small companies, they also often view these products as overpriced, and will choose shopping destinations with that in mind. So, how do traditional specialty retail channels fit into a world where consumers can grab nitro brewed coffee at the gas station and score cashew yogurt at the drug store? We put that question to members of the supply chain in our research. Some speculate that the specialty grocer serves a purpose for the community, like a hospital or library. Others believe that retail must become theater to stay relevant. These concepts stayed with me while doing some ex- ploring in Italy during a recent visit to Cibus, a bi-annual ex- hibition of Italian foods, held in Parma. A stop at the massive Fico Eataly World in Bologna brought to life much of what surfaced in the research. From its animal farms, to windowed kitchens and daily sessions on how pasta, cheese, and meats are made, to 45 in-house eateries, visiting Eataly World is an experience. One that hits all the touchstones consumers demand—a focus on quality ingredients, the theater of ar- tisan food production, and the combo shopping and dining experience of food hall and grocerant. True, it's an experience on a food-park level at Eataly World, but that sense of retail as a shared community ex- perience was reinforced—and more authentic—at many of the smaller local, family-owned markets around Parma and Florence. Locals gather for coffee and conversation with pro- prietors while shopping for the day's groceries, watching food being prepared, and asking advice on products. Here back at home, while younger consumers seek a convenience-value combination, iGens also report they pre- fer to shop where staff can help them understand and choose between specialty food products. These same consumers who are helping to blur channel lines say they have a desire to know the owners where they shop, something a small local grocer can fulfill more than a large chain or mass merchant. This research supports what we, and those Italian grocers, know to be true. A key differentiator for specialty retail has always been as a destination and experience for connecting and learning about food. By doubling down on those offerings, independent grocers can help solidify their position as community foundations and stay competitive in a shifting landscape.

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