Is Brand Loyalty a Thing of the Past?

Brick-and-mortar stores once had brand loyalty beyond compare. Consumers cherished their favorite stores and looked forward to strolling the aisles during weekly shopping trips. Families were devoted to a single store and either shopped at Publix, Walmart, Albertsons or another grocer close to home. With Amazon Prime now delivering perishables and other food items, and delivery services like Shipt allowing consumers to order groceries from different stores to have them delivered to their homes for a small fee, brick-and-mortar grocers are starting to see an impact on brand loyalty. Almost 40% of consumers stated that they would not mind if their favorite grocer closed, they would just go shop somewhere else.

With all of these new technologies available to order groceries and other items directly online, how are brick-and-mortar stores going to compete with a conglomerate like Amazon? One thing that keeps people coming back to their favorite grocer is customer service. Publix and Wegmans, for example, are known for their outstanding customer service. Greeting customers as they enter and exit the store, offering to help load bags into customers cars and hosting food sampling events with easy to prepare meals are just a few of the ways that these companies go out of their way to treat their customers like family. Publix will also order anything that they do not carry at one particular store if you just ask.

Another way brands can maintain a dedicated customer base is by having loyalty or reward programs. Loyalty cards allow customers who sign up for their program to get coupons through their email and get direct discounts in store. A good example of this is CVS. For years, their ExtraCare card gives direct discounts in stores and offers ExtraBucks or cash off their next purchase. Stores like Walmart also offer a Savings Catcher on their phone app. By scanning your receipt into the app, Walmart will check their competitor’s prices and give you the difference directly online on a Walmart gift card if they find a better deal.

Getting customers to the store, keeping them inside long enough to make purchases and creating good relationships will build the emotional connections brick-and-mortars need to rebuild brand loyalty. Utilizing the loyalty and rewards programs offered will allow brands to have a fighting chance to stay in business as the Amazon Prime and online delivery craze continues to sweep the nation. While there is no easy way to bring customers into these supermarkets, companies can still thrive by maintaining solid relationships with their customers by continuing to provide deals and services only available in stores.


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Frozen Novelties Still Popular with Americans of All Ages

Americans, even after all these years, are looking to the freezer section to satisfy their sweet tooth. Ice creams now come in a plethora of different flavor combinations, while other frozen delicacies have started adding flavor and nutrient-enhancing components. The future of frozen desserts looks very bright for the young and old alike.

While Baby Boomers don’t mind grabbing their favorite pint of classic ice cream from the store, Millenials and Gen Z are looking at different frozen treats to satisfy their cravings. Vegan, dairy-free and gluten-free options are ever-popular with the health-conscious Millenials and Gen Z. Smaller, private-label companies are changing the frozen dessert game by adding things like protein, probiotics, prebiotics and superfoods. These healthy ingredients allow those who care deeply about their health to still have the option to pick up a dessert item at stores like Whole Foods and Trader Joes, minus the guilt of a classic pint of ice cream. Baby Boomers still love the classic ice cream flavors they grew up on like cookie dough, mint chocolate chip and of course, plain chocolate and vanilla.

Halo Top changed the game by introducing their low-calorie, high-protein ice cream alternative options into the market. With Time Magazine naming Halo Top one of “The 25 Best Inventions of 2017”, Halo Top became the best-selling ice cream brand by fall of 2017. Halo Top offers many flavors of light ice cream, but their best seller is their line of dairy-free options. With flavors like toasted coconut, vanilla maple and birthday cake, it is no wonder that Halo Top an industry leader.

Gen Z has new flavor and texture desires that companies are working diligently to create. Food plays a vital role in creating experiences for this generation, so companies are having to cater to their demands and preferences. Clean-label, high-quality ingredients are very important. Companies are now making their products with cage-free eggs, sustainably farmed vanilla and milk from cows not treated with growth hormones to appease the next generation. Nuts, seeds, chocolate chunks and cookie bits are all added to give frozen treats the extra texture their younger fan base desires. Swirls of caramel and fudge are also added to more decadent products, but those delicacies are favored more by the Baby Boomers.

The future of ice creams and ice cream alternatives looks very promising. Companies are having to get more and more creative with their products, so who knows… your favorite flavor of ice cream may not even be created yet!

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How Blockchain Technology will Revolutionize the Food Industry

Blockchain technology is a way of storing and sharing information across a network of users in an open virtual space. A problem food manufacturers face is the complexity of tracking their products from raw material to consumer. Food safety is as pertinent to food manufacturers as it is to consumers. Utilizing new blockchain technology would provide complete end-to-end visibility, as well as allow for tamper-proof data. A number of industries, like gold production and pharmaceuticals, are already seeing the advantages of this technology.

Blockchain in the food industry would allow restaurants, grocers and farmers alike to easily trace and track each step of the supply chain, from “farm to fork.” Blockchain allows for specific products to be traced at any given time. Walmart, who sells 20% of all food in the United States, has just completed two pilot tests. Before using blockchain, Walmart conducted a traceback test on mangoes in one of its stores. It took six days, 18 hours and 26 minutes to trace their mangoes back to its original farm. Using blockchain, companies who utilize this technology would be able to provide all the information a consumer would want in a mere 2.2 seconds. Six days is an eternity in the case of product contamination. Using blockchain technologies, product contamination could be contained quickly and food waste could be greatly reduced, as it currently stands at whopping 33-40% a year.

Being able to have this large mass of data in one space, in real-time, would allow distributors, farmers and manufacturers to easily see their competitor’s prices. This would allow each group in the supply chain to be able to compare what others in the industry are doing, and in turn, be more competitive with their prices and more productive in their work.

Transparency is more important than ever to consumers. By setting up a system where consumers could simply scan a QR code on a food product using a smartphone, blockchain would allow each person to be able to see a log of the journey of that food product. The system would record and assign a digital certificate for each interaction with said food item, which would reduce the risk of adulteration in food products. I think it is evident that companies who become early adopters of blockchain technology will create a stronger customer loyalty through transparency.

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Drink Up, Here are 4 Popular Nutritional Beverages in 2018

More and more Americans are caring about their health, the food they put in their body and what exactly goes into the food that they are feeding to their family. While life for most is still as fast-paced as ever, convenience and accessibility of nutrient-dense options are important to maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Nutritional beverages have become very popular over the past few years for their easy access, flavor options and on-the-go capabilities. Here are five trends that you will continue to see in nutritional beverages for the remainder of 2018.

1. Plant-based Probiotics

Probiotics have been a very popular point of discussion in the health community for a few years now. Probiotics are the good bacteria that live in the gut and work hard to provide better digestion, while also improving your immune system. Probiotics can be found in things like sauerkraut, kimchi and miso, but most recently in kombucha, a fermented tea. GoodBelly is a company that specializes solely in probiotic beverages. Each one of their drinks contains probiotic strain Lactobacillus plantarum 299v (LP299V®), “a strain proven of surviving the harsh acidic environment of the stomach in order to set up shop in the intestines.” Adding probiotics to your diet, especially through drinks, can help alleviate stomach issues such as cramping, constipation, bloating and feeling run-down.

2. Prebiotics

How do probiotics stay alive and thrive in the body? With prebiotics, of course! Prebiotics fuel probiotics and allow them to stay alive in the perilous conditions of the gut. Chicory root fibers are the only plant-based prebiotics that is proven to aid in calcium absorption, weight management and overall digestive help. Chicory root fibers can be found in a powder form (to add to your favorite drinks), yogurts, smoothies and nutrition bars. Prebiotin is one of the most popular powders available and you can purchase it here.

3. Milk Made from Everything but Dairy

As the dairy industry experiences a decrease in sales, the plant-based milk market is thriving. Almond and coconut milk have been increasing in popularity for more than a few years now, but with options like hazelnut milk, peanut milk, even milk made from oats and brown rice, alternatives to dairy milk are increasing in sales.

4. Stevia & Beyond

Stevia has proven to be the sweetener of choice for those looking to live a healthier lifestyle because it is lower in sugar and calories than regular sugar while being twice as sweet. With many different brands are producing stevia, such as Whole Earth and Truvia, there are many options available including some mixed with monk fruit, brown sugar and honey. So the next time you are in the breakroom grabbing an afternoon cup of coffee, try adding a little stevia to see how you like it.

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Top Five Food Trends for Spring 2018

Over the past few years, the food industry has seen a huge shift in flavor and ingredient trends. Foods and textures that once consumed the nation, deep-fried foods, sugary drinks, and salty snacks, are now deemed unhealthy and thus, avoided like the plague. With plant-protein based dishes, all-natural beverages, and locally-sourced snack foods on the rise, we can see that trends have definitely shifted to align with the nation’s health food craze. Here, we have compiled a short list of five upcoming flavor and ingredient trends we are predicting to see in the spring of 2018.

1. Cold Brew Coffee & Beyond!

Most Americans, about 83%, drink coffee every day. Last year we saw everything from rainbow lattes, unicorn Frappuccino’s, and glitter in our beloved cup of Joe, to cold brew, nitrogen infused coffee, and even coffee-inspired cocktails. With spring right around the corner, it is hard to imagine what else could be in store for the coffee world. Hot cold brew is becoming more popular, popping up in corner stores and larger chains alike. “Hot” cold brew may sound like an oxymoron, but the cold brew process actually uses cold water, rather than hot, to brew the coffee, which cuts down on the acidity to provide a smoother flavor, and is easier to make in larger quantities. Cold brew is also popular with those who are health conscious. People are adding nut and seed milk to their favorite beverage, as well as superfoods like chia, turmeric, protein powder, maca, and flax seeds. By making your coffee nutrient-dense, that little pick me up can really provide you with the extra boost you need to get through the day.

 2. Soups > Juice

Juicing is way past its prime. Juice cleanses are still a very popular fab, but results from studies are showing that while yes, cleansing is good, the juice cleanses can cause an unhealthy increase in blood sugar. So while you may be losing water weight, you are putting your body at risk for other potential health issues. “Souping” is proving to be the latest and greatest trend because it’s a quick and easy way to get a multitude of vegetables and vitamins into your system. A group of researchers took the same exact foods, put one portion on a plate, and then took the other portion and blended it with a hot liquid to create a soup. Those who were given the hot soup serving reported staying fuller for longer. This is because their stomachs emptied more slowly. So put down that juice, and go grab yourself a warm, comforting cup of soup.

3. Plant Proteins

Being vegan or vegetarian has become the cultural norm, when just a decade ago, it was almost unheard of to not eat meat. The maj Learn More

Panera Bread Eliminates 150 ‘Unacceptable Ingredients’

Earlier this month, Panera Bread Co. announced that they are removing 150 ingredients from its food offerings. On May 5 released a lengthy list of ingredients that will be removed from or will never appear in its menu items, claiming to be the first national restaurant chain to do so. The company also announced its own clean- label salad dressings. (more…)

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