Food shopping evolution looks set to move up a gear

Food businesses will need to adjust the mix of products they make available in the future if they’re to meet customers’ expectations on price, quality and availability, according to a new shopping habits analysis by BPEX.

Looking at the evolution of retail trends and customer activities over the past 40 years, BPEX says that the process of change is continuing, “perhaps even accelerating” as new technologies increase the range of options available to consumers.

“Successful retailers and their supply chains need to understand, and respond to, their customers’ needs,” they say, pointing out that virtual stores with large touchscreens to offer consumers a “virtual shopping experience” already operate in metro stations in Japan, while UK retailers are running systems which allow shoppers to collect purchases from lockers in offices, tube stations and other locations.

Just as the changes of the 1970s led to shoppers making less use of smaller independent retailers and butchers, so the changes of the future will see “increasing innovation” being applied to shopping trends and new product development.

Focusing specifically on red meat sales, in relation to online shopping, BPEX points out that while online shopping has been a key growth area, now accounting for close to 5% of grocery sales, shoppers have been slower to embrace this channel for red meat than for other products.

“Only 4% of red meat sales are made online,” they say, “although this figure is higher (6%) for beef mince, possibly because shoppers feel there is greater uniformity in the product, making in-store comparisons less important.”

Even so, the conclusion from BPEX is that the future holds a “great deal” of further innovation, for which retailers and their suppliers need to prepare.

Access full BPEX report

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