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Food retailers and manufacturers should focus on transparency and healthy choices for consumers to ensure long-term success, according to the 2017 U.S. Grocery Shopper Trends report. The report examines the shifting marketplace, including consumer shopping trends, retailer success strategies, and the demand for transparency across the entire supply chain.

A changing marketplace

The “who” and the “where” of grocery shopping are changing rapidly.

Who’s shopping

Co-shopping is the new norm, with 84% of U.S. shoppers claiming at least half the responsibility for household shopping. Almost 4 in 10 males are the primary household shopper, a significant increase from previous years.

Where consumers are buying groceries

With more options than ever before, more consumers are shopping around. Less conventional ways of shopping are beginning to see more market share. For example, shoppers might skip the supermarket and instead hit the organic food store.

Online shopping channels saw the most growth in 2017, thanks to Millennials. More than 40% of Millennials report shopping online for groceries at least occasionally. And they’re not the only ones using their phones and laptops to stock the shelves. Digital tools are on the rise and being used in store for coupons, product reviews, sale specials, and recipes.

What consumers want from their food

Consumers want authenticity and are seeking out food manufacturers and retailers that share their health goals and values.

Food safety

Almost 9 in 10 shoppers are confident that their food is safe right from the store. They also count on themselves to make sure their food is safe. However, there is an increasing reliance on government agencies such as the FDA and USDA to do their part in ensuring food safety across the supply chain.

Nearly half of consumers believe that the most likely place for contamination is at food processing/manufacturing plants. In the past year, 15% of shoppers have stopped buying certain products because of safety concerns linked to specific recalls or controversial food processing practices. Common concerns include animal welfare (think chicken and tuna), risks of eating non-organic meats, and sustainability.

Healthy foods

It should come as no surprise that health and wellness still rank as top consumer concerns. The report reflects a growing desire for fresh and less processed foods.

Almost two-thirds (65%) of shoppers avoid negative ingredients including “low sugar” and “low calorie.” And 59% want less processed foods including “non-GMO” and “no artificial ingredients.”


When it comes to mealtime, 63% of households consider it important to eat together. Time constraints and differing schedules can get in the way, so 67% of consumers outsource cooking to the grocery store at least some of the time.

With healthy eating a top concern, offering fresh prepared items in store is key to keeping time-strapped consumers out of the drive-thru.

Transparency is key

Consumers want more than healthy food and convenient shopping experiences; they want transparency across the supply chain. With so much information being thrown at us every second of the day, food manufacturers and retailers must gain trust by letting customers in on their side of the process.

Connection to food

Now more than ever, consumers are seeking out a deeper connection to their food. They want the story behind it so they know exactly what they’re putting into their body and the practices they’re supporting.

Shoppers count on retailers to know everything about the food they carry just as much as they count on food manufacturers to offer complete transparency. To close the information gap, improved communication between manufacturers and retailers is a must.

Ingredients and sourcing

Shoppers want transparency about where their food comes from and what’s in it. Clear labeling, food safety standards, and product guarantees are the top reasons why shoppers tend to choose a particular store.

For more information on transparency in the food industry, check out these articles:

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