Episode 198: Pamela Riemenschneider
Pamela Riemenschneider is a catalyst for the produce industry. As one of our most top, celebrated trade journalists, she’s constantly pushing industry leaders to think bigger, more innovative and identify opportunities to optimize and evolve how we get fresh produce into the hands of consumers like you. With Pamela’s great foresight and pulse on what’s to come, we’re sharing with you the top five trends you can expect to see this year in grocery retail, restaurants and produce.
Across the board, Pamela predicts 2022 to be a year of evolution. From the way restaurants handle business, partnerships between kitchens and retailers, recycling initiatives and ready-to-go, convenient food options, we’re going to continue to see an evolution in how we enjoy and shop for food altogether.
First, let’s talk about restaurants. Thanks to the pandemic, restaurants have had to rethink how they provide an incredible experience and impeccable service. Some of the top restaurants in the country have found themselves competing with fast food or drive-through options. Why? As Pamela reminds us, we don’t want to think about what to cook or what to order anymore. Also, the pandemic drove us to find convenient options that were ready-to-go and meals that are quick and easy, including ones you can eat on-the-spot in your car.
Restaurants who were hurting during the pandemic have two options. One is to offer smaller menus or menus that focus on what they do best and shift to “reservation only” for diners. The other is to get their foot in the door with ghost kitchens and collaborative spaces that are making it easy to enjoy restaurant-quality meals at home.
Meal delivery and meal prep companies are going to continue to optimize. They’ve been slightly confusing and not very cost effective, which is why we’ve seen a dip in consumer interest from these companies, and a push towards grocery retailers providing their own ready-to-go or take-home meal kits.
The pandemic took everyone’s attention away from our concerns about plastic. What was more important was figuring out and providing safe, effective ways to give consumers food while eliminating the risk of COVID-19 as much as possible. Now that we’ve accepted the “new normal”, our focus on finding alternatives to plastic that are cost effective will return.
Even though packaging like raspberry clamshells have a recycle symbol on them, they’re typically rejected by recyclers because they also have paper stickers on them that aren’t recyclable. Some companies are working on getting new labels or switching to corrugated options (that are pricey, but work well). Pamela says we need to push municipal recyclers into making recycling easier or finding a way to accept things that we originally thought couldn’t be recycled.
Another hot trend we’ll continue to see this year is produce grown from indoor farms. Indoor farming creates a fresher product, oftentimes is grown closer to the grocery retailer it’s sold at and uses less water. A ton of investment and financial backing is being poured into this industry innovation and, on top of it, indoor farming has created some incredible, custom produce we haven’t seen before!
“If you don’t have lettuce grown from an indoor farm in your store right now, it’s only a matter of time before they take over a lot of the shelf.” – Pamela Riemenschneider (30:35-30:48)
It wouldn’t be a top five trend list without calling on a produce item like mushrooms, which Pamela says are having a “glow up” right now! Mushrooms are being used in a lot of different ways you might have not heard of, like as a more cost effective alternative to scallops. There’s even mushroom oatmeal at stores like Walmart, and shredded sriracha or barbeque flavored mushrooms you can eat on sandwiches! Mushroom jerky, mushroom chips… the list goes on and on with how creative we’re getting with this versatile vegetable.
Keep your eyes peeled for how some of these trends are changing the way you feed your family and enjoy healthy, delicious produce! Be sure to check out Pamela’s articles on current trends, future forecasts and more at www.producebluebook.com.
How to get involved
- Join The Produce Moms Group on Facebook and continue the discussion every week!
- Reach out to us – we’d love to hear more about where you are in life and business! Find out more here.
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Previous episodes you may enjoy
- Episode 197: Brian Antle
- Episode 196: Ryan Atwood and Ryan Lockman
- Episode 195: Michelle Huff
- Episode 194: Brittain Ladd
- Episode 193: Kelly Bristow and Jenny Maloney