business news in context, analysis with attitude

Good piece in the new edition of Facts, Figures & The Future, in which Michael Sansolo of the Food Marketing Institute (FMI) writes:

“The problem many Americans face at mealtime each day is figuring out exactly who they are when they enter their kitchen. Not to simplify this too much, but the choice for many may be whether they are: 1. Martha Stewart; 2. Rachael Ray; or 3. Michael Sansolo.

“That may seem like a somewhat ridiculous choice, but in many ways it captures exactly what shoppers say they face when meal time rolls around. FMI's annual survey of shopping trends asked how consumers describe a home cooked meal and the answers were staggering.

“The Martha Stewart crowd sees cooking as a lengthy process featuring raw products and using many appliances in the kitchen. The menu is varied, the diet is balanced and the event is planned and coordinated. Rachael Ray cooks are looking for ways to get the job done with some flair, but lots less time as befits the queen of easy cuisine. For them the job could include some use of kitchen implements and using appliances ‘for more than two minutes,’ but nothing like the two hour process the earlier group cited.

“My group is more kitchen challenged, but we're honest. My wife has long known that I count any activity performed in a kitchen, including simply opening a bag of salad, as ‘cooking’ and I will brag about my contribution at length. In fact, her preference when it comes to cooking is that I simply get out of the way.”

And, Sansolo concludes, “Understanding the best choices to offer today's demanding and complex shopper is one of the great challenges the industry faces, but in many ways is the price of success the days.”

In other F3 stories this month:

• “Retailers have finite opportunities to promote, and seemingly infinite choices among trade programs offered by CPG suppliers in every area of the store. Today's increasing sophistication in customizing such efforts, and in ensuring the right inventories, prices and merchandising support are in place to succeed, have retailers and suppliers honing in on the programs that deliver best.

“Promotions are more prevalent now—36 percent of dollar sales in grocery, up from 32 percent four years ago, and 30 percent in drug stores, up from 28 percent four years ago. So, analysis of individual event types (feature, display, temporary price reduction or a combination) and categories is key to discerning what to run that will raise brand, category and total-store performance.”

• “It has become a truism over the past few years that organics are a top-performing category in the supermarket industry, with sales in U.S. food, drug, and mass merchandiser stores (excluding Wal-Mart) more than doubling to more than $3.5 billion between 2002 and 2006. And it may not be surprising to those who watch the category that the northeastern and western US are the places where people are most likely to buy organic products, with organics enormously popular in markets such as San Francisco, Denver, Boston, Portland, Seattle, New York City, Hartford, Syracuse, Sacramento, Miami.

“But succeeding with organic products isn't just a matter of a retailer making sure that he or she is in the right geographic area and then stocking organics. There are, in fact, specific strategies that can be employed in order to continue to grow sales.”

And there’s much more…including Phil Lempert’s analysis of the real and troubling issues raised by the disappearance of honey bees in the US.

To get your copy of F3, go to:

F3 is a joint production of the Food Marketing Institute (FMI), ACNielsen, and Phil Lempert.

(Full disclosure: MNB Content Guy Kevin Coupe is a contributor to F3.)
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