The $3 billion annual Grow It! Make It! Ship It! Agricultural economy of San Joaquin County is beginning to face major consumer market changes.
The Lodi General Mills plant opened in 1947 and is now closed with one of the main reasons being the changing eating habits of families which were spotlighted at the recent Fancy Foods Show that I attended.
The Specialty Food Association just concluded their 43rd Winter Fancy Food Show held at the Moscone Center in San Francisco. This Show featured over 1,400 exhibitors, including 350 from California and foreign exhibitors from 20 nations. More than 90,000 new specialty food products were on display.
During that same week, an Amazon Go store opened in Seattle without a cashier but with a chef preparing the food daily within this new grab and go store. I also heard that grocery stores like this new Go store, will be eliminating transportation and inventory by growing vegetables on roof tops or inside the store in LED light containers grown in air or water, without soil or pesticides.
Many of the vendors at the Fancy Foods show are now plant based food companies o ering alternatives to traditional milk and meat using plant proteins in refrigerator packaged fresh foods. Now it’s what’s not in your food vs what is in your food. Where’s the beef is truly the question of this Fancy Food Show since its source in many cases is not an animal but rather a plant.
Big food suppliers are now losing a third of their market share to these specialty food producers. Fresh and cold storage in smaller amounts vs scaled dry food with long shelf life is the trend. That means a whole new supply “cold chain” with refrigeration of less “fresh” inventory.
Lifestyles of the Gen Z and young families is now driving this change which is all about grazing with multiple “natural organic” snacks rather than sitting down to 3 square meals. The government’s traditional nutritional pyramid is unknown and unwanted. Food now needs an authentic story so that higher prices and margins can pay for the new fresh supply chain. Farmers need to become “this story” and perhaps the chef too, for product endorsement.
Here’s my last example. California-based alternative protein and dairy-free business, Ripple Foods, was founded in 2014 and has raised $110 million in venture capital and other traditional investors including Goldman Sachs. This money will be used to fund market expansion and new plant protein products to replace dairy. Most recently, it introduced a non-dairy Greek yogurt that boasts 12 grams of protein per serving. Ripple Foods products are sold throughout the U.S. and Canada in over 10,000 locations such as Kroger, Whole Foods, Target, and other regional retailers and grocers.
So, the San Joaquin Valley’s dairy industry is now threatened by plant based products. Got Milk or Got Plant is the future question that will be answered by the Gen Z market.
Reprinted courtesy of the Greater Stockton Chamber of Commerce Port O Call.