Progressive Grocer - September 2017 - 97

Marketing/Merchandising

Fresh Food

The Arrival of

'Free-of' Food
Consumer desire for transparency is behind this up-and-coming trend.
By Carol Radice

K

nowing where their food comes from
- including how it's grown or raised,
and what went into it - is increasingly
important to consumers, who are just as
attracted to what's in a product as what's
not. When it comes to purchasing fresh foods such as
meat, seafood, dairy, produce and deli/prepared foods, the
cleaner and simpler the profile, the more appeal it holds.
Some are calling this burgeoning trend the "free-of "
movement and predict that its ability to positively affect
fresh food sales will be significant in the coming months.
According to Meagan Nelson, associate director for
Nielsen Fresh's growth and strategy team in New York,
the overarching theme driving this movement is consumers' need for transparency. "People just want to understand what's in their food and how it is produced," Nelson
says. "They want to know where the produce was grown,
who the farmer is, how the beef cows or chickens were

cared for, and what they were fed."
Consumers are clearly aware of, and making conscious
decisions about, what they put in their bodies these days. Research conducted by Schaumburg, Ill.-based Nielsen in 2016
found that 67 percent of consumers want to know everything
that's going into their foods. In addition, nearly three-quarters
of consumers - 73 percent - feel positively about companies
that are transparent about where and how their products are
made, grown or raised. More than half of consumers - 68
percent - said that they're willing to pay more for food and
drinks that don't contain undesirable ingredients.

Seeking Clarity
While it's true that Millennials and Generation Z are a
key force behind the free-of movement, Nelson believes
that what's happening is bigger than that, pointing out that
consumers of all ages are looking to have more clarity in
what they purchase. "People are so disconnected [from] the
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