Consumers have gradually become more health conscious over the past decade. While 2000s kids toted lunch boxes filled with processed fruit snacks, today’s parents are more likely to send their children off with actual fruit.
It isn’t just about produce, either. Grocery shoppers are moving away from most highly processed foods and embracing fresher alternatives. Fresh meats and produce have experienced the most demand growth, but the push for fresh also extends to dairy, prepared foods, cheese, deli and bakery items, according to the Supermarket News 2021 fresh foods trend report.
A 2018 Neilson study found that fresh foods were a serious driver of growth in retail stores, accounting for 49% of all sales growth in the consumer goods industry. In late 2019, Deloitte Insights published a study stating that 60% of consumers were spending up to one-third of their average grocery budgets on fresh items.
This shift in consumer behavior can be largely attributed to public health initiatives — like those spearheaded by former first lady Michelle Obama — calling for greater nutritional awareness.
While the coronavirus pandemic initially increased consumer interest in nonperishable, shelf-stable foods, it did nothing to curb the growing appetite for fresh selections. According to the Supermarket News report, retailers reported that their sales margins either improved or stayed the same across all fresh options except floral.
While the coronavirus pandemic did not alter consumers’ taste for fresh foods, it did highlight the challenges inherent to fresh food supply chains. During the early days of the pandemic, grocery supply chains were taxed with a whole host of issues, including reduced hours of operation and supply shortages at grocery stores, warehouses, manufacturers and processing plants.
The stress of the pandemic made it crystal clear that supermarket supply chains will need to be streamlined and optimized to continue to meet strong consumer demand, especially during unpredictable and volatile times. This is especially important when it comes to fresh foods; Fresher and less processed options are more prone to spoilage, leaving little room for error.
“U.S. grocery retailers estimate that $18 billion in food arrives at their stores spoiled and unusable,” according to a recent white paper published by Tive. “The clock starts ticking on the fresh life cycle from the moment produce is harvested, meat is butchered, eggs are laid, dairy is packaged or baked goods are removed from the oven.”
Due to the short life spans of these high-demand products, excellent tracking and accurate in-transit visibility are required in order to prevent spoilage. When it comes to grocery retail supply chains, visibility solutions need to extend beyond simple location track-and-trace capabilities. The right solutions will help retailers control costs while solving operational challenges, enhancing efficiencies, driving increased productivity and ensuring regulatory compliance.
Tive’s in-transit visibility solutions provide the scope and complexity grocery retailers need. The company’s solutions communicate issues with temperature-controlled shipments in real time, meaning shipments can often be salvaged before spoilage occurs. Tive’s solutions also promote proactive shipment planning based on location and weather, allow for collaboration among all members of the supply chain, and provide general peace of mind.
“Implementing in-transit visibility will improve overall proactiveness from end to end in the fresh grocery supply chain,” according to a recent Tive white paper. “Tive’s portfolio of single-use and multi-use trackers can stream location and condition information for any food or perishables shipment. Our cloud-based software gathers and interprets that data, triggering real-time alerts of any excursions beyond acceptable ranges set by each individual user.”
Advanced in-transit visibility and condition tracking is a critical component of the supermarket supply chain. This will only become more true as consumers continue to embrace fresh foods over more processed choices that were popular a decade ago.