Conference Beat™ – International Dairy Deli Bakery Association Annual Seminar and Expo – Denver, Colorado June 2014

Leaders in the dairy, deli and bakery business gathered for the association’s 50th anniversary.  Over 9,000 professionals and more than 1,500 exhibitors gathered to be inspired by keynote speakers and learn about the latest new products and opportunities for deli and bakery operations.  Conversations focused on the challenges and opportunities of consistently delivering healthy, interesting, fresh and delicious food to consumers.


The Modern Family

Households and families are becoming smaller down to about 2.6 people per family. According to the latest U.S. Census Bureau report, single person households represented 27% of households while married couples with children were down to 20% of the population.  The growth in single person households and the urban migration of consumers means greater discretionary food spending and the expectation of greater variety of offerings.


Demographics are also important to consider with Baby Boomers and Millennial consumers continuing to be the big spenders and the trend setters.  For the Modern Family, meal time works around life rather than daily living arranged around meal times.



Convenience and Freshness Drive Sales

The fresh perimeter of the store is the destination for everyday meals.  High quality food experiences are considered part of overall wellness for today’s consumers.


In foodservice, where 49% of the consumer’s food dollar is spent, the top 4 fastest growing chains according to NPD serve made to order foods that score high on fresh perception:  Jersey Mike’s, Firehouse Subs, Chipotle and Jimmy John’s.



Healthy is a Moving Target

Consumers continuously report interest in healthier foods, yet the definition of healthy continues to evolve and sometimes changes significantly from year to year with new research that captures media attention.


Consumers are exploring more alternative proteins and GMO’s are becoming a mainstream concern.  Yet intention and behavior do not always match: among the list of top 10 fastest growing restaurants chains are Buffalo Wild Wings, Wing Stop, Tim Horton’s and Krispy Kreme.



Habits Drive Eating Behavior

Harry Balzer from The NPD Group disavowed attendees of the notion that kale is the food of the decade, sharing data about the 10 food categories that make up half of the American diet and how little these major categories have changed in the past 10 years.


The average American makes about 14 food choices on a daily basis.  The top foods consumed 10 years ago are still the same although a few have traded places.  This year’s top 5 include: sandwiches, fruit, vegetables, carbonated soft drinks and milk.


Although Americans are creatures of habit, they love to try new things, so there is plenty of room for innovations in flavor and form.  For example, when Taco Bell introduced the Doritos Loco Taco their share of taco orders spiked to 57%.  Ranch flavor is perennially popular and emerging now are pepper sauces like sriracha.



Food Trust

Trust is a significant factor in brand choices.  Millennial consumers in particular are evaluating companies not only on their products and their brands, but on their corporate conscience.



Channel Surfing

Competition is being redefined by consumers who shop regularly among different channels of the food industry including supermarkets, convenience stores, restaurants, club stores and even drug stores.



Taste Talk Tweet

This year, IDBBA attendees took to twitter promoting new convenience snack options, capturing adult twists on traditionally kid-centered products.  The introduction of an adult Lunchable, thin bread cut into squares, pepperoni, shredded cheese and pizza sauce; and gourmet string cheese, including smoked mozzarella and homestyle ranch flavors, mirrored the key shifts in food culture discussed in this year’s speaker sessions.


Twitter feeds commented on vendors’ solutions to the growing need for healthy, convenient snack options to replace sit-down meals, giving local and artisan deli-prepared options a growing market share.  Other attention-grabbers included hybrid pastries such as the pretzel croissant, a salty and sweet treat; vortex cake, moist cake anchored by either a cookie or brownie crust; a vegan carrot cheesecake with the surprising development of convenient and sustainable c-store packaging.


If you want to follow our observations in real time go to



Implications for Food Marketers:


  • Elevated Everyday Foods. Even everyday meals are becoming experiences for today’s consumer with new flavors and varieties of favorite foods gaining attention.
  • Shared Values. Consumers want to buy food from retailers and restaurants that share their values about cuisine and food culture.  Interest continues to accelerate in finding trusted sources for meals, snacks and ingredients.
  • The New Fresh Food Value Proposition. Price, pleasure, convenience and healthfulness are critical components of the value proposition for fresh foods.
  • Authenticity is The New Culinary Standard. Increasingly confident consumers are demanding food experiences they consider to be more authentic.

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