NCDA&CS food business specialist Annette Dunlap offers resources that small-business owners and food entrepreneurs can use to grow and manage their business. Annette is available for free one-on-one consultations and can assist small-business owners with financial and market planning through the agribusiness development section. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
It’s hard to believe that very soon we’ll be closing the door on 2011 and opening a new one on 2012.
As you know, one thing that happens as the year closes is that experts offer their predictions for the coming year. This is true in the food industry, as well. I thought it might be interesting to look at two sets of predictions, one focusing more on what to expect in food-product development, and the other that takes a closer look at who the customer of the future may be.
According to a recent article in Food Business News and based on research by Innova Market Insights, market interest continues to be strong in the areas of food purity, sustainability, knowing the source of your food, and food’s health benefits. For those of you looking to fill niche markets, remember to consider how quickly a niche can go mainstream – gluten-free products are good examples of this.
If there is one “takeaway” from the article, it’s this: customers are looking for either bargains or premium products. As a small-business owner with limited resources, your product’s best position in the market is as a premium product, and backing that up with a high-quality label design, strong promotional message and high-quality ingredients.
Supermarket guru Phil Lempert suggests three key consumer trends in 2012 that will continue what we’ve seen since the economic downturn:
- People will continue to do more at-home cooking
- Ethnic foods will continue to grow (with an emphasis on people trying out new foods at food trucks)
- More men will be shopping and cooking
Lempert’s other predictions tie in with other expected trends in food, including interest in healthier foods, reduced use of sugars and fats, and the growth of the “farm to fork” movement (knowing who your producers and suppliers are).
Finally, one thing we can all agree on in 2012: Food prices will keep going up. In the next few weeks, we’ll take a look at when to hold the line on your price, as well as how to pass the price on without losing your customers when you can’t hold it any longer.