The Food Environment Evolves | Society for Nutrition Education and Behavior (SNEB)

The Food Environment Evolves

Posted by: on Monday October 4, 2021

Latest developments in the changing food environment.

Tech: help for the food insecure, AI, Social Media, QR codes…

Local resources online/via app w/Google’s Find Food Support; pickup/delivery w/Feeding America’s online grocery ordering system, OrderAheadWalmart’s AI (artificial intelligence) for online food substitutions increases customer satisfaction. Other ways AI shapes how we shop online for groceries: carts record what you buy/suggest items, bot recommends recipes for on-hand ingredients; online food delivery service identifies your preferences/generates shopping lists – 72% of shoppers don’t change the lists. Online Walmart helps meal planning: shoppable recipes, chatbots and some smart speakers/smart displays, TikTok to buy ingredients. Buy ingredients from Albertson’s on Pinterest. Hy-Vee’s QR codes are everywhere: inside/outside of their Iowa stores/more digital touchpoints. Buy ingredients online from Walmart on Tasty (social food platform). Survey reinforces TikTok as a restaurant influencer.

Grocery delivery: 24/7, convenient, quick; drive-thru pickup…

Uberfrom ride-sharing to grocery deliveryUber delivers from Albertsons. DoorDash customers add items from nearby restaurants/stores (DoubleDash) to orders: no fee; Albertson’s first to pilot DoubleDash . Grocery drive-thru pickup next? A Florida Amazon under construction said to have drive-thru grocery pickup; Hy-Vee will use pharmacy drive-thru for groceries. This option may be better than pickup…sitting/waiting (an average of 7 minutes at Walmart). One expert observes that small orders are better for drive-thru. Kroger’s order pickup time now in Google MapsKroger/Instacart delivers in 30 minutes from ‘convenience store’ of 25,000 available items for $10 minimum order and $2.99 delivery fee. Others in the ‘quick and convenient’ space: Instacart w/30 minute delivery convenience store, 7-Eleven. Instacart’s 24/7 delivery.

Empty/disrupted food shelves, yet more food in more places…

The FMI (The Food Industry Association) cites weather, limited supply of ingredients/materials, transportation issues (limited truck drivers) means some products aren’t in stores. Costco, begins some item limits. When will product shortages end? 2022 or possibly 2023Food shortages: discontinuation of some brand varieties, aluminum availability affecting canned goods/ready-to-eat foods. Farmers’ Fridge, healthy vending machines, offer salads, yogurt parfaits and oats, in airports; already at Target, business centers, hospitals, universities, Walgreens and CVS in IL, IN, NJ, NY, PA and WI; testing starts at Dunkin’ Donuts in Chicago, NJ; machines are in Jewel-Oslo, a grocery store, in Chicago.

Chipotle, kids’ menus/fast food indoor dining’s future…

A first: Chipotle adds nutrition preferences to its app/website – vegetarian, vegan, paleo, keto, Whole30, avoiding gluten, dairy, soy, sulfites. More to come?() Restaurant kids’ menus’ healthy changes with post-pandemic slumps in chicken nuggets, mac ‘n cheese and grilled cheese sandwiches. On kids’ menus more often? Sweet potato and broccolini. More trends in menu items in the article. Will fast food chains continue indoor dining? Maybe not. Taco Bell’s new restaurant design has more drive-thru; Wendy’s expanding food preparation to off-site ghost kitchens for food delivery. One expert observes that restaurants in malls or with playgrounds for children/families will likely continue. Now fast food restaurants have more than one model to choose from.

Impulse buys, DTC (direct-to-consumer), freebies and more…

Convenience store traffic down: how to boost impulse buys of snacks/treats? Snacks/candy a big part of online orders (24% of all online orders have at least one treat); they occur at the end of an e-commerce visit – checkout prompts can facilitate  purchases. Burger King’s  NFT (non-fungible tokens) engage customers. Others using NFT: Pizza Hut Canada, McDonald’s CanadaDTC (direct-to-consumer) a new way to reach consumers: Cheez-It’s DTC site has merch/varieties not in stores. A bonus of DTC – sites get consumer data. Free samples everywhere: Fresh Market adds chocolate to Monday pickup orders; Walmart adds hydration powder, snacks and candy; Albertsons gives snacks and treats. Sample programs likely to become more targeted as retailers are able to do so. More on free food samples: a grocery chain is working on personalizing free samples to an individual.

The future…

How will plant-based based chicken impact traditional poultry? For now plant-based chicken sales don’t threaten chicken sales. Some companiessuch as Tyson, invest in plant-based chicken. Will consumers adopt chicken alternatives? How will the industry respond? Stay tuned. What’s next for food delivery services? Their own private-label brands/meals as they seek new revenue due to low profit margins/business losses. Delivery services can use their data to identify food/cuisine gaps in an area. Look to hail a van to your door to bring curated foods from selected retailers in Los Angeles  in 2022; ice cream and fast-food to follow. Get ads in front of consumers’ eyes with…visual ‘Quu – a visual ad on in-car dashboards when a radio ad playsRegenerative retailing…what is it? Retailers noting shopper concerns about the environment (climate change) and societal issues (social justice) are ‘retailing with a purpose.’ For example, hiring local or reducing their carbon footprint.

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