I’m not sure I’m ready to call it a future market prediction, but part of me believes the future of retail could be refrigerated. That's a bold statement, but let’s take a look at the trends which appear to be real and which could make this a possibility:
- Consumer interest in fresh, natural and organic is growing
- Increasingly consumers are looking at ingredient panels
- Consumers are more concerned about avoiding complex labels and problem ingredients
- There is a growing desire for healthy, clean, simple, and whole foods
- Entrepreneurs and manufacturers are increasingly willing to experiment with simple product formulations with fewer preservatives
- Consumers and manufacturers are looking for ways to maximize nutrient profiles leading to reduced use of nutrient diminishing pasteurization methods
Yet convenience still reigns supreme in many situations and occasions, even for the natural and organic shopper.
The result appears to be the beginning of a migration of products from the center of the store to the refrigerated case at the perimeter. The following are examples of traditionally shelf-stable products beginning to find their way to the retailers’ refrigerator:
- Snack bars (e.g., Perfect Bar)
- Personal care creams (e.g., Dairy Face)
- Fresh and raw pet foods (e.g., Primal Pet Foods)
- Fermented items like sauerkraut (e.g., Farmhouse Culture)
- Cold pressed HPP juices (e.g., name one, any one -- this space is exploding)
- Condiments (e.g., Rejuvenative Foods)
- Ready-to-eat soups (e.g., Boulder Organics)
- Raw supplements (e.g., Garden of Life)
- Gluten-free breads/products (e.g., again pick any, there are plenty)
- Cold brew coffee (e.g., Grady’s Cold Brew)
With increasing demand for this limited shelf space, one would expect these cold displays to continue to grow in size.
So, I ask: Is the future of grocery retail refrigerated?
This may be way out there, but does anyone see the potential for a new store concept focused on fresh, so much so that the entire store is refrigerated to 50°F, where you need to open the unrefrigerated case to pick up bananas and other items stored at room temperature?
Just a thought.
What implications will more refrigerated products have for manufacturers, retailers and consumers?