The natural grocery channel shows no signs of suffering indigestion. The category brought in nearly $20 billion last year up 4 percent from 2008 according to research conducted by Nutrition Business Journal. If Natural Products Expo East is any indicator, natural grocery will continue to grow. “The Natural and Specialty Food pavilion at Natural Products Expo East continues to be the largest on the show floor—comprising 36 percent of the companies at the event,” said Jessica Matzuk, Expo East marketing manager. “Food has shown tremendous growth overall at the show and Grocery continues to be the number one Product Showcase category.” Grocery themes likely to spice up Expo East: eco-labels, functional foods, convenience foods, pet products and gourmet items. Whet your palate pre-show by checking out the following stories for more on these trends.
Non-GMO joins fair trade and organic in the eco-label spotlight. In the 52-week period ending August 2010, products with a Non-GMO Project Certified label grew by 9.2 percent according to SPINS, a Schaumburg, Ill.-based market research firm. “We are still on the crest of this trend and I expect to see more and more products labeled as GMO free over the next year as the demand continues to grow and cross into other consumer groups and channels,” said Kerry Watson, manager, SPINS Product Library. Learn more about the non-GMO movement in this video of best-selling author and non-GMO advocate Jeffrey Smith.
U.S. consumer sales of functional foods and beverages grew 60.5 percent in the 52-week period ending August 2010, to nearly $25 billion according to SPINS. That surge is mirrored at Expo East with functional foods and beverages reporting 11 percent growth from 2009—more than any other category. “Consumers are looking for packaged foods that also offer a nutritional incentive,” said Heather Smith, Expo East, spokeswoman. “Manufacturers are definitely picking up on that, and I suspect we’ll continue to see product launches through 2011.”
It’s no secret that consumers are opting to eat at home rather than dine out. But even as the economy improves, Rockville, Md.-based market research firm Packaged Facts, estimates convenience foods will continue to be popular, predicting growth by at least 28 percent between 2010 and 2014. The firm reports a 5-percent increase in sales of fresh convenience foods in the natural and conventional channel to $22 billion. Learn more about capitalizing on this category at the Expo East education session, Making Your Deli a Destination, Wednesday, October 13, 10:45 a.m. to noon.
Sales of natural and organic pet food and products grew 6 percent in 2009, according to Packaged Facts, bringing natural pet food totals up to $1.5 billion in 2009 and natural pet supplies to $359 million. “Pet owners are definitely becoming more sophisticated,” said David Lummis, senior market analyst for the firm. “They’re looking for high-grade natural products – transparency, ingredient sourcing and communication of those benefits.”
When it comes to natural and gourmet foods, there’s a blurring on both sides of the line as customers look for items that meet their high standards yet also taste delicious. Natural and gourmet sales grew 2.7 percent in 2009 to more than $63 billion, according to the National Association for the Specialty Food Trade State of the Specialty Food Industry report. See our gourmet guide, for numbers and product picks and be sure to head to the Expo East education session, Catering to a Multicultural Palate, Thursday, October 14, 8 a.m. to 9 a.m.