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The Future of Food Retailing in the U.S.: Shopper Insights and Market Opportunities, 4th Edition


Attention: There is an updated edition available for this report.

The retail market for foods and beverages is undergoing some of its greatest changes since supermarkets came to the fore in the 1940s and ’50s. Economic, demographic, lifestyle and technological changes have created not only a fertile environment but the absolute necessity for new concepts to engage shoppers, capture share of stomach, and re-invent food and beverage retailing.

While the greatest competition to supermarkets and grocery stores comes from supersized “one-stop shopping” venues like supercenters and warehouse clubs, the threat has spread out across myriad retail channels, including drugstores, dollar stores, limited assortment chains, and (the elephant in the room) online grocery shopping. Although supermarkets remain the majority force in food shopping, they are no longer calling the shots—a role now shared with Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s on the natural/specialty side, Walmart, club stores, and dollar stores on the value front, and farmers markets and food trucks in trend-setting.

At the same time, 2012 and 2013 have been big years for mergers and acquisitions in the retail food industry, as strategic buyers and private investors seek a way to expand their businesses to additional markets. And while the economy has shown positive signs of recovery in the past year, many consumers remain buffeted if not traumatized by higher gas prices, rising food prices, mounting healthcare costs, and increased payroll taxes. As a result, most are still feeling economically squeezed and spending-shy.

The Future of Food Retailing provides in-depth analysis of trends in four key retail channels through which foods and beverages are sold:

  • Grocery—supermarkets, natural food stores, small grocery stores, ethnic markets, specialized food stores, and gourmet/specialty stores;
  • Value—supercenters, mass merchandisers, warehouse clubs, dollar stores, and limited assortment stores such as ALDI;
  • Convenience—convenience stores and drugstores; and
  • Alternative—online grocery services, vending machines, farmers’ markets and community supported agriculture programs (CSAs), and other alternative venues.
The Food Shopper Insights chapter of the report delves into the minds of grocery shoppers with primary research based upon proprietary data from an online survey of 2,000 U.S. adults who had shopped for groceries within 24 hours of being surveyed. Among the topics examined are which types of stores they shop, how much they spend, how they plan for their trip and what in-store services they use; attitudes toward wellness, nutrition, food labeling, natural/organic foods, food safety, and store brands; and which food departments attract shoppers to stores.

The data analyzed in Food Shopper Insights are largely derived from Packaged Facts February/March 2013 Food Shopper Insights (FSI) Survey, supplemented by data from our Food Shopper Insights (FSI) Survey conducted in June 2013. Each survey had a sample size of 2,000 U.S. adults who had shopped for groceries within 24 hours of being surveyed. The sample composition is representative of the national population by gender, age bracket, geographic region, race/ethnicity, household income bracket, and presence of children in the household.


  • Executive Summary
    • Scope of Report
    • Report Methodology
    • Food Shopper Insights
      • Supercenters, Warehouse Clubs, Dollar Stores Strong Competition for Grocery Trips
        • Table Type of Store(s) Shopped on Most Recent Grocery Shopping Trip, 2013 (percent of grocery shoppers)
      • Majority Like Their Store, But Only 56% Like Grocery Shopping
      • 85% Perform Some Type of Preparation for Shopping
      • Saving Money an Important Consideration
      • Wellness a Concern for Many Grocery Shoppers
      • Shoppers Seek Specific Nutritional Benefits
      • Fresh Fruits and Vegetables the Most Important Shopping Draw
      • Two Out of Three Purchase Store Brands
      • Store-Prepared Food Items Attract Many Grocery Shoppers
        • Table Type of Products Purchased on Most Recent Grocery Shopping Trip, 2013 (percent of grocery shoppers)
      • Kids Influence Parents' Grocery Choices
    • Retail Trends
      • Total Retail Food and Beverage Sales Almost $640 Billion in 2013
        • Table U.S. Retail Sales of Foods and Beverages, 2013-2018 (in millions of dollars)
      • C-Stores Outnumber Supermarkets Almost Five to One
      • Supermarkets Lead Food and Beverage Market with 53% Share
      • An Industry in Flux
      • Consumers Still Spending-Shy
      • Grocery Sales Trend Higher
      • The Top 20 U.S. Food Retailers
        • Table Top 20 U.S. Retailers of Foods and Beverages, as of June 2013 (in billions of dollars)
      • More Types of Stores Focusing on Foods
      • More Actual Stores
      • Multi-Channel Shopping
      • Small Is Big
      • Private Label Foods & Beverages Top $104 Billion in 2012
      • Consumers Widely Accepting of Private Label
      • The Debate Over Loyalty Cards
      • Technology Changing How Consumers Shop for Groceries
      • Emphasis on Fresh Foods Continues to Grow
      • Prepared Foods Drive Store Traffic and Profits
      • Retailers Becoming Arbiters of Wellness and Nutrition Management
  • Food Shopper Insights
    • Methodology
    • Shopping Trips: The Basics
      • Supercenters, Warehouse Clubs, Dollar Stores Strong Competition for Grocery Trips
        • Table Type of Store(s) Shopped on Most Recent Grocery Shopping Trip, 2013 (percent of grocery shoppers)
      • Six in Ten Spend Less than $100 on Groceries Weekly
      • Majority Like Their Store, But Only 56% Like Grocery Shopping
        • Table Attitudes of Grocery Shoppers Toward Grocery Shopping, 2013 (percent of grocery shoppers)
      • Environmental Concerns Affect What Happens in the Aisles of Grocery Stores
    • Planning Ahead
      • 85% Perform Some Type of Preparation for Shopping
      • Shopping List Is Most Common Preparation Before Shopping Trip
        • Table Type of Planning by Grocery Shoppers Before Most Recent Grocery Shopping Trip, 2013 (percent of grocery shoppers)
      • Saving Money Remains an Important Consideration
        • Table Retailer Programs Used During Most Recent Grocery Shopping Trip, 2013 (percent of grocery shoppers)
    • Wellness and Nutrition
      • Wellness a Concern for Many Grocery Shoppers
        • Table Attitudes of Grocery Shoppers Toward Food and Health, 2013 (percent of grocery shoppers)
      • Certain Foods Have a High Wellness Profile
        • Table Attitudes of Grocery Shoppers Toward Healthy Foods, 2013 (percent of grocery shoppers)
      • Whole Grain, Multi-Grain the Most Appealing Characteristics
        • Table Characteristics Sought When Buying Food Products, 2013 (percent of grocery shoppers)
      • Wellness Concerns Help Drive Purchase Decisions for One in Two Grocery Shoppers
      • Marketers and Retailers Need to Do More
        • Table Attitudes of Grocery Shoppers Toward Responsibility for Eating Healthfully, 2013 (percent of grocery shoppers)
      • Nutritional Content of Foods Important
        • Table Attitudes of Grocery Shoppers Toward Nutrition, 2013 (percent of grocery shoppers)
      • Shoppers Seek Specific Nutritional Benefits
      • "Low/No/Free" Characteristics Sought When Buying Food Products
        • Table "Low/No/Free" Characteristics Sought When Buying Food Products, 2013 (percent of grocery shoppers)
      • "High" Characteristics Sought When Buying Food Products
        • Table "High" Characteristics Sought When Buying Food Products, 2013 (percent of grocery shoppers)
      • Highly Processed Foods an Issue for More than Half of Shoppers
        • Table Attitudes of Grocery Shoppers Toward Highly Processed Foods, 2013 (percent of grocery shoppers)
      • Health-Enhancing Food and Beverage Products Favored
        • Table Attitudes of Grocery Shoppers Toward Foods Designed to Promote Health and Nutrition, 2013 (percent of grocery shoppers)
      • Food Restrictions Matter to a Substantial Minority
      • Many Shoppers Worried About Food Safety
        • Table Attitudes of Grocery Shoppers Toward Food Safety, 2013 (percent of grocery shoppers)
      • Many Shoppers Skeptical of Label Claims
        • Table Attitudes of Grocery Shoppers Toward Trustworthiness, 2013 (percent of grocery shoppers)
      • Shoppers Also Avoiding Growth Hormones and GMOs
        • Table Attitudes of Grocery Shoppers Toward Growth Hormones and GMOs, 2013 (percent of grocery shoppers)
    • Which Foods Shoppers Want
      • Fresh Fruits and Vegetables the Most Important Shopping Draw
        • Table Most Important Products in Choosing a Grocery Store, 2013 (percent of grocery shoppers)
      • Two Out of Three Purchase Store Brands
        • Table Attitudes of Grocery Shoppers Toward Brands and Store Brands, 2013 (percent of grocery shoppers)
      • Store-Prepared Food Items Attract Many Grocery Shoppers
        • Table Type of Products Purchased on Most Recent Grocery Shopping Trip, 2013 (percent of grocery shoppers)
        • Table Attitudes of Grocery Shoppers Toward Ready-to-Eat Meal Items, 2013 (percent of grocery shoppers)
      • Almost Two out of Three Like Trying New Foods
        • Table Attitudes of Grocery Shoppers Toward New, Spicy, and Ethnic Foods, 2013 (percent of grocery shoppers)
      • Kids Influence Parents' Grocery Choices
  • Retail Overview
    • Introduction
      • A Broad Selection of Retail Channels
      • Total Retail Food and Beverage Sales Almost $640 Billion in 2013
        • Table U.S. Retail Sales of Foods and Beverages, 2009-2013 (in millions of dollars)
      • Estimates from Other Sources
    • Market Composition
      • C-Stores Outnumber Supermarkets Almost Five to One
      • Supermarkets Lead Food and Beverage Market with 53% Share
      • Government Data Underestimate Sales Through Supercenters, Warehouse Clubs, and Convenience Stores
        • Table Food-At-Home Sales by Type of Outlet, 1993-2011 (percent)
    • Market Outlook
      • An Industry in Flux
      • Consumers Still Spending-Shy
      • 10% of Pre-tax Income Goes for Food
        • Table Average Annual Expenditures and Income of All Consumer Units and Percent Changes, 2008-2011
      • Grocery Sales Trend Higher
      • Food Prices Projected to Rise 2.5% to 3.5% in 2013
    • Market Projections
      • Retail Food and Beverage Sales Will Near $800 Billion by 2018
        • Table U.S. Retail Sales of Foods and Beverages, 2013-2018 (in millions of dollars)
    • The Competitive Landscape
      • The Top 20 U.S. Food Retailers
        • Table Top 20 U.S. Retailers of Foods and Beverages, as of June 2013 (in billions of dollars)
      • Recent Mergers, Acquisitions, and Divestments
    • Competition for Retail Sales
      • More Types of Stores Focusing on Foods
      • More Actual Stores
      • Multi-Channel Shopping
        • Table Consumer Packaged Goods Household Penetration by Retail Channel, 2012 (percent)
    • Store Design
      • Small Is Big-and More Convenient
      • Retailers Retrofitting Spaces
    • Private Label
      • Total Private Label Foods & Beverages Top $104 Billion in 2012
        • Table U.S. Retail Sales of Private Label Foods and Beverages, 2008-2016 (in millions of dollars)
      • Private Label Penetration Varies by Category and Retailer
      • Consumers Widely Accepting of Private Label
    • Loyalty Programs
      • The Debate Over Loyalty Cards
      • Gas Rewards
    • Going Digital
      • Technology Changing How Consumers Shop for Groceries
      • Handheld Scanners in Retail Stores
      • Will Digital Coupons Replace Paper?
      • Online Grocery Shopping and Home Delivery
    • Fresh Foods
      • Emphasis on Fresh Foods Continues to Grow
      • Refocusing on the Center Store
      • Natural and Organic Foods Remain a Fast-Growing Area of Opportunity
      • Locally Grown Produce
    • In-Store Foodservice
      • Prepared Foods Drive Traffic and Profits
      • Prepared Foods Grow in Popularity and Sophistication
    • Health and Wellness
      • Retailers Becoming Arbiters of Wellness and Nutrition Management
      • In-Store Dietitians a Growing Competitive Weapon for Supermarkets
      • Retailers' Nutrition Ratings
  • Grocery Channel Trends
    • Grocery Channel Leads Food Sales
      • Kroger, Safeway the Largest Supermarket Operators
        • Table Top 10 U.S. Supermarket Chains, 2012 (in billions of dollars, percent, and number)
      • The Kroger Co.
      • Safeway Tweaks Store Formats
      • Supervalu Sells Off Supermarkets; Expands Save-A-Lot
      • Publix a Public Favorite
      • Ahold and Delhaize: Two Foreign-Owned Groups
    • The Natural Foods Channel
      • Whole Foods Market Continues to Surge
      • Natural Foods Competitors Coming Up Fast
    • The Ethnic Foods Channel
      • Ethnic Grocery Chains Proliferate
        • Table Selected Asian and Hispanic Supermarket Chains
    • The Specialty Food Store Channel
      • Specialty Food Stores
      • Trader Joe's
  • Value Channel Trends
    • Supercenters, Mass Merchandisers, Warehouse Clubs, and Dollar Stores
      • Supercenters and Mass Merchandisers
      • Walmart-The Nation's Largest Food Retailer
      • Target Is Targeting Foods
    • Warehouse Clubs
      • Warehouse Clubs Serve Consumers and Businesses
      • Costco Wholesale Corp.
      • Sam's Club Seeks to Catch Up with Costco in Foods
      • BJ's Wholesale Club
    • Dollar Stores
      • Dollar Stores Growing Rapidly, Adding More Food
      • Dollar General: More Locations than Any Other Retailer
      • Family Dollar Carries Mostly Brand Names
      • Dollar Tree Inc.: $1 All the Time
    • Limited Assortment Chains
      • Limited Assortment Grocery Stores Offer Fewer Choices, Bigger Savings
      • ALDI
  • Convenience Channel Trends
    • Convenience Stores and Drugstores Ramping Up Foods
    • Convenience Stores
      • C-Stores Thriving
      • Foods and Beverages More Than 45% of C-Store In-Store Revenues
      • C-Stores a Growing Competitor for Foodservice Dollars
      • 7-Eleven Expanding Rapidly
      • Fresh & Easy: The British Are Leaving
      • Sheetz and Wawa Enjoy Regional Loyalty
      • Several Supermarket Chains Also Have C-Stores
    • Drugstores
      • Food Helps Drugstores Fight Back as Retail Lines Blur
      • Changes Rooted in Healthcare
      • Walgreens "Well Experience" Model
      • CVS Caremark Clustering Stores into Eight Types
      • Rite Aid's "Wellness" Stores Integrate Pharmacy and Front-End
  • Alternative Channel Trends
    • Online Shopping
      • Online Grocery Services
      • Online Grocery Business Models
      • Who Grocery-Shops Online
      • The Major Online Players: AmazonFresh, FreshDirect, and Peapod
      • AmazonFresh Expands to Los Angeles
      • FreshDirect Focuses on Premium Fresh Foods
      • Peapod Uses Supermarkets to Fulfill Orders
      • Other Online Grocery Services
    • Vending Machines
      • Vending Machines Offer Convenience 24/7
      • Micro Markets
      • Healthier Products Coming to Vending Machines
      • Customizable Combos
    • Farmers Markets and Community Supported Agriculture
      • Farmers' Market Count Grows 68% since 2008, to Over 7,800
      • Two Types of Farmers' Markets
      • Community Supported Agriculture Programs (CSAs)
    • Other Alternative Venues
      • Pop-Up Stores
      • Food Trucks
      • Other Alternative Channels Target Impulse Sales

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