We are examining the topic of inflationary impacts and other emerging consumer considerations (e.g., ongoing pandemic food procurement, supply chain disruptions, global events) in our Food Sourcing in America 2022 study now underway.

Young mother with her little boy at the supermarket

As we noted recently, inflation is at the highest level in the United States in four decades, and along with soaring prices on groceries, fuel and numerous categories within household budgets, many consumers are feeling the need to change behaviors when it comes to habits like food shopping and eating out.

Recent Hartman research revealed that consumers are keenly aware of changes in a range of prices (e.g., groceries, fuel, housing, utilities, transportation/travel, etc.) and that rising food prices are influencing noticeable changes to grocery shopping habits.

Consumers report rising prices (Figure 1) are impacting their behavior in everything from grocery shopping to driving and eating habits. Specifically, we see that because of higher prices (among consumers who report rising prices for at least one type of goods/services):

  • 40% say they are eating out less
  • 27% say they are buying more store brands
  • 24% say they are driving less
  • 18% say they are buying less food overall
  • 7% say they are buying fewer organic items
  • 6% say they are shopping online less

Figure 1: What Type of Changes Have You Made to Accommodate Higher Prices and Still Be Able to Eat the Way You Want?
Among consumers who report rising prices for at least one type of goods/services.
Source: Hartman Group 2022 Survey Research, The Hartman Group, Inc. (click to enlarge)

Inflation driven changes THG July 2022

As shown in these results, the most common areas to economize are discretionary spending (especially eating out but also in purchase categories like organic) and trading out (for less expensive items in general and store brands specifically).

Shopping behavior is also changing, as consumers report grocery shopping less frequently, shopping multiple stores to find deals, and buying more items in bulk.

Other insights:

  • Worryingly, 23% of consumers with income under $35K (compared to 18% overall) say they now have to buy less food overall.
  • There are also some differences across age cohorts (e.g., Baby Boomers over-index on driving less), Gen X are slightly more likely to go for less expensive products, and Gen Z turn to frozen products more often than older consumers.

In terms of how the diverse landscape of headwinds experienced by consumers impact grocery shopping, eating out and food procurement in general, our newest study, Food Sourcing in America 2022 builds on over twenty years of Hartman Group shopper research to provide insights into how consumer sentiments and behaviors will impact the food and beverage marketplace both today and in the future.

Stay tuned for future previews on how consumers are responding to inflationary headwinds. If you’re interested in learning more, Food Sourcing in America 2022 will update relevant data sets surrounding food shopping and sourcing, as well as explore external factors (like inflation) that are impacting consumers’ food shopping.

The study will provide a comprehensive understanding of shopping behavior at the broad level of landscape and culture, as well as at the level of channel and retailer, including:

  • Basic shopping behaviors and habits
  • Cultural context and shopping trip dynamics
  • Role of online and foodservice in the hybrid shopping environment
  • Channel engagement, perceptions, and performance
  • Product discovery in the hybrid world
  • Budget management while mitigating inflation

Food Sourcing in America 2022  Cover

You can learn more about the Food Sourcing in America 2022 study by downloading the overview and order form here