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Fruits and vegetables are feeding consumers' cravings for healthy snacks, and branded versions of produce snacks promise greater quality, said Laurie Demeritt, CEO of The Hartman Group. Consumers in a recent survey said snacks comprise half their eating occasions and fruit was the top snack choice.


About 32% of all eating and drinking in the U.S. happens in the morning, and restaurants and food retailers are increasingly focused on breakfast, writes Laurie Demeritt, CEO of The Hartman Group. Consumers are increasingly seeking out protein and filling breakfast offerings that make them feel ready to face whatever the day brings, she writes.


Growth in online grocery sales is forecast to rise at a compound annual growth rate of 21.1% between 2013 and 2018, reaching nearly $18 billion, according to Business Insider Intelligence. Consumer demand for flexible shopping options and personalization are major drivers of the trend, according to Unata CEO Chris Bryson. "The shopping experience of the future is allowing shoppers to shop any way they want," he said.

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Millennials on a mission to find new local, authentic and artisan products are fueling annual increases in craft beer sales and encouraging the rise of indie distillers and wine makers, said NPD Group's Warren Solochek. "If you ask me if I think it's a trend or a fad, I think it's a trend. I do think it will continue into the foreseeable future, because people love to try something new," he said.

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NPD Group

Consumers are cutting back on bread, but they have been spending more for healthier whole grain and artisan offerings, research shows. Restaurants have upgraded the bread basket with gourmet and house-made whole-grain options, and bakeries and big food brands are following suit.


Food and beverage subscription services are gaining ground with time-crunched consumers, budget-conscious shoppers and foodies eager to learn more about the sources of their artisan ingredients. "There will always be a place for restaurants and local grocers…but if companies like these can consistently deliver quality food and groceries at affordable rates, they can take a portion of revenue away from brick-and-mortar grocers and restaurants," said Tom Caporaso, CEO of Clarus Commerce.

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Clarus Commerce

About 25% of US consumers enjoy unconventional foods, according to a recent report from NRA, illustrating how adventurous Americans' palates have become, writes Annika Stensson. Most consumers enjoy ethnic dishes at restaurants rather than trying to make them at home, the report found, and 84% prefer to eat ethnic food at an eatery that specializes in that type of cuisine.

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Annika Stensson, NRA

Restaurants and food retailers are scrambling to keep up with consumers when it comes to mobile payments, with some including Starbucks leading the way, said nanoPay founder and CEO Laurence Cooke. Only about 18% of consumers in North American pay with their mobile devices now, but awareness is growing and those that have adopted the technology use it mostly to pay at quickservice eateries and food stores, he said.

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mobile payments, Starbucks

Retailers and brands are finding varying success in their efforts to manage social media and make use of the data they derive from social channels, according to a PricewaterhouseCoopers report. Fewer than half of companies measure the returns from their social investments, according to the report, which offers suggestions for making the most of social media efforts.

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Beverages play a key role in restaurant visits, writes Datassential's Maeve Webster, who shares insights into the latest non-alcoholic drink trends. Consumers drink tap water most often, followed closely by coffee, and they're increasingly seeking premium, natural ingredients and artisan sodas.

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Maeve Webster, Datassential