by SNEB member Ellen Schuster, MS
Plant-based food, Walgreens cooler doors cause a stir, WIC, FDA, SNAP (2 club retailers now accepting/Target to accept online SNAP) and so much more…
The cost of food: USDA’s latest food price outlook for food in 12 categories as well as eating out and takeout sees the largest increase since July 1981 (https://www.npr.org/2022/03/31/1090086246/grocery-store-food-prices-increase-2022-usda-report). The latest shrinkinflation examples – when a half gallon isn’t a half gallon (example #6), single serving yogurt shrinks by almost an ounce (example #9) and more (https://www.buzzfeed.com/meganeliscomb/examples-of-shrinkflation-2022); analysts estimate that 5 fewer chips in a bag saves the company potentially $50 million (https://www.pennlive.com/life/2022/03/doritos-bags-will-now-have-5-fewer-chips-thanks-to-inflation.html).
Buy Now Pay Later (BNPL): What does BNPL have to do with food? This short-term loan can be used to buy food/fast food; groceries offering BNPL include Sam’s Club, Costco, Target, Whole Foods, Walmart and quick-serve restaurants (https://news.yahoo.com/bought-burrito-chipotle-four-easy-060006759.html). Learn about BNPL: view a recording of a 1 1/2 hour informative webinar from OneOp – formerly Military Families Learning Network – including the demographics most likely to use BNPL (https://oneop.org/event/117019/).
Plant-based: Takeaways/trends from the recent Natural Products Expo West including a breakdown of exhibitors by the top 10 trends with eating more plants represented by 10% of exhibitors (https://foodinstitute.com/focus/5-takeaways-from-natural-products-expo-west-2022/); 2 registered dietitians observe plant-based, botanical/fizzy functional drinks, healthy indulgence and low/no added sugar and more (https://retaildietitians.com/articles/trend-sighting-at-expo-west/).
- A new plant-based jerky made from peas and mung beans debuts (https://www.fooddive.com/news/beyond-meat-and-pepsico-launch-plant-based-jerky/620853/).
- Launch of first vegan sub chain (https://vegconomist.com/food-and-beverage/only-plant-based-unreal-subs/).
- Plant-based sales growth in 2021 but see slowing of meat and dairy alternatives (https://www.fooddive.com/news/plant-based-food-sales-hit-74b-in-2021/621160/)?
- One analysis finds that price parity will help plant-based meat sales (https://www.fooddive.com/news/plant-based-price-parity-will-lead-to-exponential-growth-study-finds/620690/).
- McDonald’s testing of McPlant is slow going (https://thetakeout.com/why-mcdonald-s-mcplant-isnt-selling-well-in-test-market-) and (https://thetakeout.com/mcdonalds-mcplant-beyond-beef-burger-testing-next-month-1847871094).
- Vegan Jewish delis on the rise w/carrot ‘lox’ and mushroom pastrami (https://www.insider.com/vegan-jewish-deli-food-restaurants-lox-pastrami-beef-matzo-ball-2022-2). Grocers get into the action including Publix with a plant-based corned beef for its sub sandwiches (https://www.sarasotamagazine.com/eat-and-drink/2022/01/publix-unreal-deli).
Grocers: BJ’s become first wholesale club on DoorDash and makes their products open to nonmembers (https://progressivegrocer.com/bjs-becomes-1st-wholesale-club-doordash).
- Hormel finds bird flu on a Minnesota farm that is a supplier (https://www.fooddive.com/news/hormels-jennie-o-confirms-presence-of-bird-flu-in-its-supply-chain/621174/).
- Bird flu to cause rise in egg prices ahead of Easter (https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2022-03-16/u-s-egg-prices-rise-as-deadly-bird-flu-strikes-ahead-of-easter) and affect chicken prices (https://www.npr.org/2022/03/26/1089006048/avian-flu-is-infecting-u-s-poultry-flocks-it-could-affect-the-price-of-chicken-t).
- Too many choices at the grocery store? Supply chain disruption uncovers what retailers have often thought: do we really need all these choices? (https://www.grocerydive.com/news/pardon-the-disruption-has-supply-chain-disruption-taught-grocers-to-tame-t/619802/).
- Testing a mobile grocery vending machine in Colorado and Chicago (https://www.grocerydive.com/news/new-mobile-grocery-vending-machine-to-hit-the-streets/619825/).
- Albertsons leaning into food and wellness as they will accept pre-paid cards issued by Medicare Advantage and others (https://www.grocerydive.com/news/albertsons-starts-accepting-supplemental-benefits/621326/).
New food products/trends: Remember when V8 meant a veggie-based tomato drink? Not anymore…their new slogan ‘not your grandma’s tomato drink’ signals a new line of V8 drinks – + protein, + energy and tomato-free flavors – to reach new audiences (https://www.modernretail.co/retailers/not-your-grandmas-tomato-drink-how-v8-is-rebranding-to-fit-changing-tastes/). New savory bars with a lot of fiber and veggies (https://www.bakingbusiness.com/articles/55958-savory-bars-shake-up-the-snack-bar-category). Arizona certifies hemp as a leafy green crop; it’s being tested as a salad ingredient with flavor descriptors including ‘bitter,’ ‘minty,’ ‘fruity’ and ‘floral’ (https://www.farmprogress.com/hemp/produce-firms-intrigued-hemp-salad-green). Food and ag tech investments to grow in 2022 with a focus on alternative proteins and sustainability (https://www.fooddive.com/news/food-tech-investments-will-keep-coming-2022/621086/).
OH NO YOU DIDN’T WALGREENS, CHICK-FIL-A!
Walgreens’ new cooler doors: They mean more ads in your face – good for shoppers or business? Shoppers see an ad before they can get what they want, retailers use technology to track shoppers (https://thetakeout.com/walgreens-digital-cooler-screens-show-ads-to-customers-1848657804), detailed description of the cooler doors (https://www.usatoday.com/story/tech/2022/03/19/your-next-walgreens-trip-might-look-more-high-tech-talking-tech-podcast/7103187001/). Shoppers on social media say they REALLY don’t like the doors although a survey says otherwise (https://retailwire.com/discussion/will-customers-grow-to-love-walgreens-digital-cooler-doors/).For some shoppers, they’re confused – do you tap the doors to use them? And for those concerned about the tracking, it’s identity-blind (https://www.cnn.com/2022/03/12/business/walgreens-freezer-screens/index.html). One benefit: the doors show shoppers nutrition information (https://www.usatoday.com/story/money/shopping/2022/03/15/walgreens-cooler-screens-refrigerated-doors/7046051001/).
Chick-fil-A a nuisance?: A Santa Barbara, California Chick-fil-A may be declared a public nuisance: it’s drive-thru lanes keep traffic backed up 90 minutes during the week and over 2 hours on Saturdays. The manager is hoping to get time to fix the problem. And if you think this is a unique example, there are other cities where Chick-fil-A caused problems (https://www.cbsnews.com/news/chick-fil-a-santa-barbara-california-city-public-nuisance-traffic/).
FOOD & SOCIAL MEDIA, TECH
Shoppable videos, livestream shopping: NBC’s Today launches shoppable recipes with Walmart ingredients (https://press.nbcnews.com/2022/01/24/nbcs-today-launches-shoppable-recipe-solutions-across-broadcast-digital-and-streaming-platforms/). Fresh Market gets deeper into shoppable videos (https://www.grocerydive.com/news/the-fresh-market-dives-further-into-shoppable-videos-to-boost-online-engage/620239/). Social media creators and magazine sites to add shoppable recipes to Instacart (https://www.grocerydive.com/news/instacart-taps-into-creator-generated-recipes-to-expand-shoppable-content/620536/). Walmart extends more into livestream shopping after successful holiday ‘shows’ with cooking stars (https://www.retaildive.com/news/walmart-moves-further-into-livestream-shopping/619558/).
Social media, apps on notice: In 2 years TikTok has become the 3rd largest social platform among users 12+ years (https://www.insideradio.com/free/not-paying-attention-to-tiktok-you-re-missing-america-s-third-most-used-social-platform/article_74facf14-af3c-11ec-945d-7b98194da3d2.html). An opinion piece looks at emerging marketing venues including TikTok and digital TV (https://www.marketingdive.com/news/the-year-of-media-mix-diversification-is-here/620594/). FTC takes action against WW and their weight loss Kurbo app for collecting data on children as young as eight years without parental consent. The court order includes the destruction of the data collected and paying a fine (http://www.ftc.gov/news-events/news/press-releases/2022/03/ftc-takes-action-against-company-formerly-known-weight-watchers-illegally-collecting-kids-sensitive).
WIC, SNAP, FDA; SCHOOL PLANT-BASED OPTIONS
Expected 2022 WIC changes: updated food packages in early 2022, proposed online shopping regulations in April 2022 (https://www.supermarketguru.com/the-lempert-report/the-impact-of-wic-on-farmers/) and (https://fcw.com/digital-government/2022/03/usda-looks-modify-key-nutrition-program-online-age/363029/). Challenges to WIC e-commerce (and lessons learned from SNAP) include order fulfillment, broadband accessibility, fees and more (https://www.grocerydive.com/news/wic-online-purchasing-is-coming-but-it-faces-hurdles/620604/).
Guess who’s accepting online SNAP?: Club retailers move into online SNAP EBT (https://www.grocerydive.com/news/how-club-retailers-are-embracing-digital-payment-for-snap-recipients/620228/); Target will start accepting SNAP ‘late April’ (https://www.reuters.com/business/retail-consumer/food-stamp-recipients-are-new-frontier-targetcom-2022-03-31/).
FDA and FOP healthy symbols: FDA to conduct 2 online studies on voluntary FOP (front-of-package) healthy symbol (https://www.fooddive.com/news/fda-will-conduct-research-on-front-of-pack-healthy-symbol/621040/); comments may be submitted through April 27, 2022 (https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2022/03/28/2022-06419/agency-information-collection-activities-submission-for-office-of-management-and-budget-review). Look for FDA industry guidance of labeling for plant-based milk alternatives by the end of June 2022 and industry guidance for labeling of plant-based alternatives to animal-derived foods (https://www.fda.gov/food/guidance-documents-regulatory-information-topic-food-and-dietary-supplements/foods-program-guidance-under-development).
School plant-based options: More schools offer plant-based but there are challenges due to supply chain disruptions and the reality that 68% of subsidized 2017 and 2019 USDA food was meat, eggs and dairy products; 29% was fruits/veggies and less than 1% was plant-based protein (https://civileats.com/2022/03/21/vegan-fridays-for-all-more-schools-offer-plant-based-meals/).
COMING TO A CAMPUS NEAR YOU?
An example of a bakery knowing its audience: Insomnia Cookies, a subsidiary of Krispy Kreme, bakes warm cookies all day/night and will open new stores, many near campuses (https://www.foodbusinessnews.net/articles/21007-insomnia-cookies-eyes-major-markets).