While ‘frugality fatigue’ (to borrow General Mills’ phrase) might have set in for some after months of economic gloom, habits are changing as consumers try to adjust to higher prices, says Deloitte in its latest Consumer Food and Product Insight Survey.
88 percent say prices have risen
The vast majority (88 percent) of the 2,000 consumers polled by Deloitte in mid-May said retail food prices had recently gone up, compared with 67 percent who felt prices in restaurants had risen.
As a result, 75 percent claimed to be choosing some cheaper products, 48 percent said they were buying fewer products overall and 40 percent said they had bought more private label goods.
Meanwhile, 90 percent said they were eating out less, 25 percent opted for cheaper restaurants, while 16 percent dined at the same place, but chose cheaper menu options.
Rising gas prices had also prompted 73 percent to make fewer trips to food stores to conserve fuel.
Nutrition: 76 percent seeking out healthier options in store
As for healthy eating, asked whether they would like to see more foods on a high-fiber, low-sugar, low-salt or low-calorie platform, 72 percent, 70 percent, 69 percent and 68 percent respectively said yes (although what consumers say they want and what they actually buy does not always correlate).
Given the demise of Atkins, a surprising number (six out of 10) also claimed that they would like to see more low-carb foods available in stores.
Just over half also claimed to read the Nutrition Facts box on unfamiliar packaged foods to check out calories, fat, sodium levels, while 76 percent claimed to be “increasingly looking for healthier food options” while grocery shopping.
This, coupled with the roll-out of front-of-pack nutrition labeling presented manufacturers with an opportunity, said Pat Conroy, US consumer products practice leader at Deloitte
“[This] presents a tremendous opportunity for consumer products companies that are willing to enhance their nutritional transparency.”
Smart phones and food shopping
The growth of smartphones also presented food manufacturers and retailers with new opportunities, said Conroy, with just over a third of consumers polled using their mobile phones to access/view social coupons or limited-time deals and a third of those owning smartphones or web-enabled mobile devices using them in store to manage a food shopping list or recipe(s).
"Smarter phones and smarter shoppers are transforming today's shopping experience,” said Conroy.
“Moving forward, consumer product companies must make themselves more accessible to consumers who are using 21st century technologies to look for coupons, store specials and to even shop for groceries."
Click here to access the survey results in full.