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Changing Face of Consumers Demands New Attitudes

30 January 2014

US - The US poultry industry needs to turn its attention the consumer group that was born around the change in the millennium and less to the current core consumer group of the baby boomers.

The “millennials” will be the consumers of the future and fro the next 30 to 40 years, Deborah Perkins from the market analysts Rabobank told the Market Intelligence Forum at the International Production and Processing Exposition in Atlanta.

Ms Perkins said that the character of the US consumer is changing as it is globally.

In the US there is a growing Latino population that is influencing tastes and purchasing habits of the consumer.

She said that the changes in the ethnic population in the US is impacting on what people are buying and eating.

More people are going to ethnic supermarkets and stores and this drift from the traditions stores will also influence mainstream Americans.

The changes of the age of the populations and the influential consumer groups is also having an effect on the eating and shopping habits of Americans.

The baby boomer generation, which is now starting to get older, is looking more at a healthy diet and the consumers are embracing bold flavours and wanting more and more convenience.

Unlike the baby boomers, the millennials are not looking to buy foods that will need time in the kitchen.

”They may not be able to cook and don’t particularly want to learn,” said Ms Perkins.

She said they want convenience, variety and value because of the way they have been affected by the recession and they also want values in the products they buy.

She added that the millennials will not have a written shopping list but will look up foods to buy on their i-phone.

Ms Perkins said that consumer confidence has taken a knock through the recession and income levels are equivalent to theose in the 1990s and this has an impact on what the consumers buy.

She said that the new consumers want sustainability and they want the producers to show that products have been produced in a sustainable way.

“But sustainability is a continuous process,” she said.

“The consumer is becoming more sceptical about the way their food is produced.”

And with the consumer demanding more information about production methods, the industry has to build trust with the consumer.

She said that the US consumer is one of the most trusting in the world but they are becoming more questioning and need to think that the company is ethical and cares about the animals.

She said they want companies to share information with them and take responsibility when things go wrong.

Ms Perkins added that technology is also changing the way consumers look at food and products.

Technology and social media are revolutionising the way decisions are made and where people eat.

“One hundred and forty characters are telling the whole story,” she said.

However, she said that the poultry sector is in a good position to exploit the new consumer as poultry meat is affordable.

The consumers are also buying in smaller portions and own label brands as they are managing on a budget.

The poultry industry needs also to look to different areas as outlets for their products including more foodservice outlets and an increasingly important institutional foodservice market as the baby boomers get older and are taken into hospitals and homes.

The sector needs to embrace the snack market and different outlets such as convenience stores as consumer habits change.

On the international market, the poultry sector needs to embrace the developing economies – in particular China, India and Indonesia, which account for 40 per cent of economic growth.

For the developed countries the change will not ne in the amount that people eat, but in the types of products, but the growth in the consumption of protein in the developing markets offers an important opportunity for exports, Ms Perkins said.

Chris Harris

Chris Harris

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