Consumers Adapt to Higher Prices When Shopping for Healthy Food Options

Steve Markenson, VP of Research & Insights at FMI, detailed how healthy living trends continue to evolve and the role of private brands for retailers at the recent Store Brands Health & Wellness Webinar.
Zachary Russell
Associate Editor
Zachary Russell profile picture
Greg Sleter Steve Markenson

The COVID-19 pandemic of the past three years has shifted consumers’ perception of health and well-being, with many shoppers becoming more focused on eating better, taking supplements, exercising and getting proper rest and more.

At the most recent Store Brands Health & Wellness Webinar, Associate Publisher/Executive Editor Greg Sleter was joined by FMI- The Food Industry Association VP of Research & Insights Steve Markenson to discuss the evolution of better-for-you trends.

“The definition of health and well-being has also evolved so much,” said Markenson. “There’s physical wellness, mental wellness, social well-being…It’s important that retailers and the industry understand that the consumer is looking at that broader view of how things impact their whole health and well-being perspective.”

While different categories have seen growth in the past three years, nutrition is still top-of-mind for consumers, even with increased food prices. Markenson said that consumers are pushed to be more flexible when purchasing healthy food products, which has in part led to increased private label sales.

“When they’re shopping, they’re looking for the deals, they’re looking for the special prices,” he said. “Folks are shopping more banners, and a lot of that is looking for better prices and finding the foods that they want. We saw a decrease in folks eating fresh food, we saw a lot of concern about food waste… The shoppers have been very flexible in trying to work through all these knuckleballs that have been thrown at them to get what they need…”

Markenson gave examples of consumers purchasing a mix of fresh produce and frozen fruits and vegetables, as well as shoppers buying less seafood in the past year, as a testament to how price is impacting consumption habits. In terms of private label sales, Markenson said that innovation and varied price tiers have attracted health-minded consumers to store brands.

“A lot of private brands aren’t just the cheapest ones on the shelf anymore, they have different levels to them,” he said. “Private brands have been very innovative in their offerings, offering different levels, offering sustainable products, products that have better nutrition benefits that are not just the cheapest and are still just as healthy. It cuts across the different categories of private brands. I think the retailers who do have private brands, and even those who don’t, I think are really seeing the benefit of putting the effort into offering more innovation in the private brand area.”

The full webinar can be viewed on-demand here.