business news in context, analysis with attitude

This month’s edition of Facts, Figures & the Future has three stories that make important points:

• The impact of the troubled US economy on organic food sales: “Are foods and beverages with organic claims (and higher prices) immune to the deepening economic plague of 2008? Nobody knows for sure—though recent surveys show consumers are less confident and expect to shop thriftier to nourish their families, which could prompt more purchases of conventional consumables at the expense of organics.

“Yet the counter-trend to eat healthfully, even if it costs more, remains strong. Nielsen LabelTrends data show that even as the economy took a downturn in 2007, the sales growth of organics segments across the selling floor remained as lusty as ever.” Total sales of organic foods were up more than 25 percent in the last 52 weeks, even as sales of non-organics were up just 4.4 percent…which would appear to be a good sign for organics.

• Phil Lempert writes that in the latest survey done on, “60% of respondents said they knew what a carbon footprint was; and 73% said they would like to see a carbon footprint rating on foods.” But he suggests that companies move forward with both caution and precision.

“With all the talk (and conferences) about sustainability these days, there is little doubt that while major efforts are being made to help save our planet's resources, there will also be those opportunistic and misleading efforts that will do little more than confuse and mislead shoppers. Carbon footprint ratings is one of those … The cure all needs to be a lot more than just a number on a package. That should be the result, not the focus.”

• And Anna Marie Roerink, the Food Marketing Institute (FMI) director of research, notes that “it is clear that shoppers are carefully weighing the pros and cons of making additional trips, considering money-saving opportunities against the cost of gas. Retailers must try to maximize the shopper experience and basket size for each trip … With fewer occasions to interact with the customer, retailers must increase their efforts to read the pulse of their shoppers. A deep understanding of shopper characteristics, attitudes and behaviors will help retailers better anticipate and satisfy customer needs through changes in pricing strategies, promotion tactics, marketing outreach, merchandising, store layout and other sales approaches.”

And, there's much more.

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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