Consumer Trends

A trip to Treasure Island Casino to speak to an agricultural group of farm managers and rural appraisers was very educational.

First, one only has to go through the casino, get a whiff of the smoke and see all the senior citizens at the gambling stations to realize that Medicare and Medicaid are having deep problems. Yes, many are there to socialize but this whole place looked like a pre-cancer ward!

It was interesting listening to the speakers from the University of Minnesota discussing food trends. The following are some highlights that may be impacting your profitability and lifestyle.

  • First, consumers are shopping less and eating more. In 1991 they made 2.3 trips to the store, now down to 1.8 trips per week, which means less face time.
  • Twelve percent of consumers are using the Internet for online grocery shopping
  • Organic and natural foods are the fastest growing area. The consumer purchases these products because of limited chemical use, environmental friendliness, to keep farms sustainable and to keep small farms in business.
  • More consumers will purchase pharma foods, which are foods designed to prevent certain diseases, mood foods, etc.
  • Self treatment and whole health will be a big trend in the next decade designed to circumvent the biggest health concerns of consumers
    • 81% eye health
    • 80% cancer
    • 75% heart disease
    • 73% diabetes
    • 73% joint and ligament health


The speakers indicated that for producers and agribusinesses, cost would be the big driver in the domestic and international marketplace. Niche markets would be branded as organic, small and local, or natural foods. Products would be marketed through either cyberspace or consumer-direct, with e-commerce providing 360-degree feedback from consumer to producer to make quick adjustments to meet demands.

My e-mail address is:sullylab@vt.edu

Editors' note: Dave Kohl, The Corn and Soybean Digest Trends Editor, is an ag economist specializing in business management and ag finance. He recently retired from Virginia Tech, but continues to conduct applied research and travel extensively in the U.S. and Canada, teaching ag and banking seminars and speaking to producer and agribusiness groups.

To see Dave Kohl's previous road warrior adventures type Dave Kohl in the Search blank at the top of the page.

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