“Supermarkets have come a long way, adding retail and corporate dietitians and pharmacists who on a daily basis are helping shoppers plan healthier lifestyles,” Lempert said.

Speaking a bit futuristically, he envisioned a time when supermarkets will provide services or private consultants who sit down with a client’s or grocery shopper’s DNA map and customize or recommend recipes to combat health conditions or health preference for the shopper. Most of these products could be scheduled and delivered online.

Food challenges

Pew Research Center recently released a study on middle-class buying power. It shows that:

• 85 percent of middle-class adults say it’s more difficult now than a decade ago to maintain their standard of living.

• Middle-class incomes have shrunk over the past four decades. In the past decade alone, the middle-class median income fell 5 percent, but median wealth fell 28 percent.

• The middle class includes 51 percent of adults who bring in 45 percent of the nation’s income — down from 61 percent in 1971 who brought in 62 percent of income.

• 62 percent of middle-class Americans say they had to reduce household spending in the past year because money was tight, up from 53 percent who said the same in the recession year of 2008.

As a result, pricing will continue to be a sensitive issue for food retailers, Lempert says.

Lempert says consistent, skilled labor is a major problem for U.S. fruit and vegetable production, referring to a USDA study that shows as much $3 billion in California alone in loses due to  recent U.S. immigration reform efforts. But that’s not the only problem with labor, he says.

The Pew Hispanic Center studies show that net migration flows from Mexico to the U.S. have declined to near zero. A staggering U.S. economy, more-aggressive border enforcement and better economic conditions in Mexico are keeper Mexican workers in Mexico.  “Not only are there fewer workers here, but what would be their younger replacements are opting instead to stay and work in Mexico,” he says.

To find out more about Lempert and his views on food retail’s current and future trends, click here.

brad.haire@penton.com

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