We Bring You Expert Insights and Industry Data, Monthly.

Click Here For Current Issue!


Listen, this wasn’t my idea. But here are eight things I see coming down the pike in the next year or two. (Or three.)

As Yogi Berra once said, “It’s tough to make predictions, especially about the future.”
But this month’s cover story is full of predictions, and Warren asked me to come up with some of my own. I tried telling him that those who have knowledge don’t predict, and those who predict don’t have knowledge. But he insisted anyway. So here goes.
1. Retailers and vendors will all try to differentiate by being more “healthy,” and as that continues, there will be a nice niche business for delicious, unhealthy junk food. Count on it. Yes, the biggest gains will come from organic, natural, gluten-free and crap-free. But there’s still a market out there for the other stuff.
2. More “healthy food” will actually taste good. It doesn’t seem that long ago that I’d have preferred eating egg cartons soaked in crankcase oil than chowing down on a veggie burger. But today, there’s really delicious healthy food available. And as more consumers find out about it, we may get back some traffic that we’ve lost in our departments.
3. Frozen food companies will get back into promoting and innovating, or in a few short years they’ll lose the farm. Brands aren’t spending nearly as much on promotion as they used to do, and the whole department has suffered. Promoting smarter and more efficiently should help, but you never know. I’ve seen “sales” where an item sells better at two for $5 than at $2.49 apiece. And innovation doesn’t mean just adding a new flavor.
4. Private label will get stronger in areas where brands are cutting back on promotion and innovation. As for innovation, private label is doing a helluva job. Been in a Trader Joe’s lately? I doubt those MBAs from the big food companies have. They really need to stop rearranging those deck chairs on the Titanic and try something besides tired line extensions.
5. Consolidation/big weddings will continue. People keep telling me that there’s nothing left to consolidate, and that all the big companies have married up. Well, I keep hearing of new potential weddings all the time, on both the retailer and vendor side.
6. Divorces will accelerate and stepchildren will be kicked out of the household. All those big vendors marrying up don’t always find wedded bliss. They’re going to find things they don’t like about each other, and soon there will be fights in the boardroom. (Or is that “the bored room?”) Next thing you know, they’ll be splitting themselves up, or saying that the other’s children aren’t “part of the core mission.” Companies like Pinnacle should have a fine old time.
7. For new products over the next few years, we’ll see more upscale items than downscale or even middle-class items. If you’ve been reading the papers or just plain living in the United States, you know why. The only wild card here is that Walmart occasionally tries to latch onto an upscale item, and then the truly upscale stores drop it like a hot potato. But most mainstream stores want to carry everything Walmart has, and then some. God forbid one of their shoppers ever says, “I guess I’ll have to go to Walmart for that.”
8. Some companies will innovate by giving their workers enough time and resources to get things done and actually “exceed the expectations” of their trading partners. Imagine that! Oh, the early ones trying this will probably fail. Pioneers get arrows in their backs. But pioneers also get the gold.

Johnny Harris

Johnny Harris

Johnny Harris, president of Johnny L. Harris Consulting, LLC, Fort Mill, S.C., can be reached at 803-984-2594 or at cmer0002@gmail.com.

Leave a Reply

Got News?

Let us know!

Email Warren at


On Key

Related Posts

Half-Dipped Yogurt Bars

Casper’s Ice Cream, Richmond, Utah, expands its gluten- and dairy-free Jolly Llama lineup with a collection of Half-Dipped Yogurt Bars. The probiotic-rich frozen treats come

No-Sauce Garlic Parm Wings

Greeley, Colo.-based Pilgrim’s introduces no-sauce Garlic Parm Chicken Wings that allow consumers to “get lost in flavor, not sauce.” Made with all-natural chicken raised without

Extra Hot Pockets

Solon, Ohio-based Hot Pockets, part of the Nestlé USA portfolio, partners with First We Feast, maker of the popular YouTube series Hot Ones, to create

Bavarian Pretzel Sticks

J&J Snack Foods, Mt. Laurel, N.J., maker of the SuperPretzel lineup, brings its most popular foodservice pretzel to the freezer aisle. Free of artificial flavors,

Grab & Go Family-Size Meals

Drake’s Fresh Pasta Co. High Point, N.C., offers a full line of restaurant-quality grab-and-go meals under its Parla Pasta brand. Made with only the finest,



contact us

Or reach us directly:

Paul Chapa, Co-Founder & Managing Partner
913-481-5060 or paul@frbuyer.com

Warren Thayer, Co-Founder & Managing Partner
603-252-0507 or warren@frbuyer.com