Consumer food preferences are driving new trends in the field of logistics. Not entirely gone, but diminishing at a fast rate, are the thousands upon thousands of retailer square footage dedicated to prepackaged, preservative-laden food with surprisingly long shelf-life. More prominent and showing no signs of letting up is the trend toward food that can be defined with terms like “fresh,” “whole,” or “natural.” While there’s debate about what these terms mean and consumers are always skeptical, there seems to be no debate that they are here to stay as long as consumers believe they are worthy of their esteem and dollars – and this affects how food producers, distributors and retailers do business today and going forward.
How did food get to this place?
It’s worthwhile to ask how we got here? Did consumers drive producers? Or did availability and marketing of new, premium-priced options induce the demand? Surely a little of both, however there are signals suggesting that awareness and access to information on health has directed much of the change. As one Nielsen executive put it, Americans have recognized the idea of ‘food as medicine.’ They’ve also recognized the potential health impacts of exposure to preservatives, food colorings and other additives, with up to half of consumers surveyed saying they read the ingredients before purchasing.
Food giant General Mills has drastically reduced the preservatives, high fructose corn syrup and other artificial or unnatural ingredients in their packaged breakfast cereals, going so far as to move to only natural colorings for their cereals by 2018.
Manufacturers are reacting to, and in fact promoting, the trend of going natural. It’s more than lip service – and it has to be – as consumers have more choice, more information and a perception that they have more incentive to choose. Manufacturers are responding not only with more natural processes and ingredients, but also with features such as reduction in packaging and easier-to-read labels. The response has been swift and strong, with the health food market projected as a $1 Trillion business in 2017.
How will health food get to your place?
This exploding sector of the food industry places huge demands on the producer, the manufacturer, and the distribution and logistics industry that serves them. The need for strategically located warehousing has never been greater. The same can be said for access to transportation infrastructure, access to strong utilities, cold storage, end-to-end climate control and client visibility to the supply chain. The freshness requirements and shorter shelf life of this new era of food requires the utmost attention to speed and accuracy from the logistics industry.
It is speed and attention to the details of food storage and distribution that will ensure product quality integrity, freshness and temperature consistency. And that will determine the durability of the brand reputation, consumer satisfaction and future sales. It could seem to be a daunting new world for the food industry. A logistics and warehousing provider like Distributors has the resources in place to key a smooth transition for food. Central locations, flexibility for expansion, infrastructure and extensive experience in providing specialized warehousing and distribution center capabilities.