What’s In The Trolley Four Years Hence?

An IBISWorld snapshot of what we can expect to see in the average shopping trolley at supermarkets in 2013 was a bit of an eye opener. But it also appeared to be a little optimistic in its time-frame and conclusions.

At the top of the list was ‘ready meals’.  Now this can vary according to the definition of a ‘ready meal’, but the ready meal market in the grocery sector has been up and down like a toilet seat for nigh on two decades. The report claims the category is in growth mode and expected to successfully ride the economic downturn. But from my experience with organisations who dipped their toe in the murky ‘ready meal’ pond it’s an unforgiving business. As more companies tighten their belt on their grocery research and development and are less willing to expose themselves to the vagaries of major supermarket direction and support – and the voracious private label spectre – the ‘ready meals’ category doesn’t look like a safe bet.

Functional yoghurt was up there at number four. The criteria for its potential success included those with added omega-3, antioxidants, vitamins and probiotic cultures, as well as organic versions.  I remember earlier disastrous experiments with dairy and omega 3 – not an attractive smell and taste, except maybe to the family moggy.  I also remember a breakfast yoghurt that boasted additional ‘functional’ wholegrain, which was designed to appeal to the breakfast dietary fibre types. Instead it clogged the production machinery and was deleted.

Organic beef was ruminating there at number seven.  Organic beef means organic feed. And if that is a grass fed animal rather than a grain fed beast then we are talking organic pastures. Let me see, there’s a withholding period for when an organic pasture can be called organic….and before beef can be certified as organic, national organic standards must have been met for three years.  So this is a pretty tight schedule to have that lot come on stream and capture the market in four years.

Surveys have always been flawed by what people think they are ‘supposed’ to answer.  If the research findings on ‘the intent’ to buy an organic chook was reflected at the checkout, then chicken producers would have switched in that direction big time. But price will always prevail.  Just think what else you could load into your trolley if you down-grade from an expensive organic chook or slab of that organic beef?

And Bluefin tuna at number ten on the list? That’s a good one. Wild Southern Bluefin tuna is an endangered species as are wild stocks of Bluefin in the Mediterranean. Even if the aquaculture silver bullet for the species in South Australia hits its straps will there be Bluefin available locally by 2013 at a reasonable price, when it is such a lucrative export commodity?

I’m not convinced.

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