Consumers economizing on food purchases

by Staff
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ARLINGTON, VA. — Consumers are working to reduce the amount of money they spend on food through eating out less and planning meals, according to the Food Marketing Institute in its latest "Grocery Shopper Trends" report.

"Shoppers in every income bracket are facing budgetary pressures, and they are making different choices when it comes to the foods they purchase," said Leslie G. Sarasin, president and chief executive officer. "The recession is affecting shopper decision making in ways that may endure. Retailers are challenged with a great opportunity to win over shoppers with money-saving ideas that appeal to their customers."

F.M.I. noted three stages of consumer behavior when it comes to economizing food purchases. First, shoppers will save money on eating out by switching from fine dining to fast food as well as buying supermarket meal solutions instead of going to a restaurant. Next, consumers will change their saving measures in the store through purchasing more private label brands, using coupons, buying basic ingredients, and shopping with a plan. Finally, consumers will switch store formats and choose supercenters, warehouse clubs and limited assortment stores.

Sixty-nine per cent of consumers said they ate out less and an additional 50% ate out at less expensive restaurants. Consumers also are making plans to prevent impulse purchases before going to the grocery stores as 53% said they made a shopping list and 40% said they searched newspaper or advertising inserts.

In addition, 97% of consumers said they plan to purchase the same amount of private label brands or more during the next year. Consumers are enjoying healthier meals when cooking at home, and to help with this many are looking for easy-to-make recipes, recipes for cooking a meal for under $10, and convenient placement in the store for dinner items such as pasta, sauce and bread, the survey showed.

Consumers also are still concerned about the safety of their foods with 72% saying they were somewhat confident in the safety of food in the supermarket, and nearly one-third of consumers saying they stopped purchasing a food product because of safety concerns. Almost three-fourths of consumers said they purchased locally grown items on a regular basis.

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