In recent years, Americans have shifted their food purchasing habits. What was once the hallmark of the American food industry, grocery stores have taken a backseat in the news as fast-casual eateries, farmers markets, specialty stores, drug chains and other big box retailers have become more popular. Despite the noise, grocery stores remain a pivotal part of the American food ecosystem, and many shoppers still turn to these traditional outlets for their daily bread.
No doubt, Americans love food: the typical American household spent about $6,759 for all food expenditures in 2014, with $3,971 of that ear-marked for food-at-home expenses. (For more information, be sure to check out the 2016 version of Demographics of Consumer Food Spending!) While some may argue whether food away-from home expenses have eclipsed the food-at-home kind, one thing remains certain: in the food industry, how much a consumer spent is second only to where they spent it, and thanks to MarketForce Information, we have a good idea of who will be reaping those funds in 2016.
According to the agency's recent 10,000-consumer study, Wegmans was voted as America's favorite grocery retailer. In 2015, the grocery chain did not even earn enough votes to make the list. In 2016, however, fans of the chain voiced their opinion, resulting in double the votes from the prior year, with a score of 76%, to secure the top spot. Wegmans was also in the top three in a variety of other categories, including fast checkouts, cleanliness, availability of items, ease of finding items and specialty department service.
For the fourth year in a row, Publix ranked number two with a score of 75%. Trader Joe's dropped five percentage points for a score of 73% and third place, while Hy-Vee and ALDI rounded out the top five. Survey respondents noted that Publix had the best selection of items, but ALDI led the pack when it came to prices. ShopRite, Kroger and Meijer were voted as the best at offering sales and promotions.
For those finding themselves at the bottom end of the survey, MarketForce offers some help: The survey found that shoppers are seeking local and organic foods while grocery shopping, with 49% of consumers preferring to purchase organic items when given a choice. Produce, meat and dairy were the most frequently purchased organic items, followed by packaged canned foods, dry foods and frozen foods. In addition, 58% of those surveyed noted locally-sourced meat, produce and dairy departments were important in their decision. Emphasizing product selections with these items could lead to a higher score next year.