Promising Trends for Local Food Producers

by Kami Semick

Americans are waking up to good food.

In the last few days, Nestle announced it is selling its candy business to Nutella maker Ferrero, so it can focus on more healthy food.  Last November Mars, the maker of Snickers, purchased a line of microwavable vegetarian meals.  And Hershey recently bought the maker of Skinny-Pop popcorn.

Food industry analysts are seeing consumer buying trending away from traditional packaged foods and towards healthier choices.  Large companies are responding as best as they can by snapping up “healthy” brands and diversifying away from packaged food.

This is good news for small farms which supply the ultimate in healthy and fresh food. Although we are far from a woke nation to making local, fresh food choices, promising trends are on the horizon.

According to a recent study by Nielson, Merging Tables & Aisles – Understanding Shifts in the U.S. Total Food and Beverage Demand, household spending for food as a percent of income increased in 2017.  Where food is purchased and how food is purchased is continuing to evolve.  Consumers are diversifying away from the traditional grocery store and exploring new channels. “A more nuanced look at the data shows that channel definitions are blurring, and a bevy of new options are combining the roles of the restaurant, grocer, farmer and concierge.”  These new channels include Digital Meal Ordering & Delivery, E-Groceries and Meal Kits.

“A few years ago, these competitors were relatively insignificant in the grand scheme of things. Today, they’re taking a bigger bite out of the overall food and beverage pie—and the impact is starting to materialize.”  As the chart below shows, consumers of all ages are experimenting with these new channels.














What’s the take away for farmers selling locally? 

Consumer’s shift toward healthier food combined with shoppers experimenting with new ways to find and buy food outside of the traditional grocery store, creates an opportunity for farmers selling local fresh food.

A few tips to help be a part of this shift in consumers buying habits:

  • Have a presence on the internet. Consumers are researching their food options online, so make it easy to be found;
  • Make it easy for a shopper to make a purchase on your website or Facebook page;
  • Offer a combinations of products that can help consumers quickly put together a healthy meal.

View our webinars on topics such as Online Marketing for Small Farmers, and Marketing Fundamentals for Small Farmers for more marketing and sales tips.