With 2024 just around the corner, the food retail industry, manufacturers, and distributors are ready for a new year of business. Expectations are high, and technology will continue to garner attention for using Artificial Intelligence (AI), e-commerce, and automation of distribution centers.
The industry will increasingly rely on technology in the coming years, both in-store and online, to new adaptations for artificial intelligence to streamline workflow and free up associates for consumer-facing functions.
Artificial intelligence is already a part of the existing technologies used by grocery retailers and has the potential to grow beyond specific uses by 2024.
Grocery Doppio’s latest report indicates that grocers are being careful about how much they spend on technology. Seventy-one percent of grocers declined to increase their overall technology budgets in 2024. However, 83% will increase spending on digital technologies in 2024, 79% will experiment with AI use cases, and 67% will increase their spending on security-related technologies.
Labor will continue to be a factor for the food service industry and service departments at retail. As a result, we will see the food service industry include more portion control and component solutions so the operator can assemble a product vs. having to create a solution at the store level.
There could be another wave of price increases as the labor market continues to catch up with inflation across all the supply chain.
On the other hand, once on everyone’s radar, plant-based products are settling into their space and will no longer be the big disruptor they once were.
Related Article: 2023: A Year of Adaptation and Challenges for the Food Industry
In general, retailers will continue to optimize their services to increase customer convenience and loyalty.
A group of industry leaders shared with Abasto their expectations about what will happen in 2024.
What industry leaders forecast for 2024:
“We must continue to grow in what is authentic and extend our reach to other segments of the population that love Mexican food. We must continue to invest in what we are experts in, which is really the Mexican consumer.”
Oscar Gonzalez, Co-President of Northgate Gonzalez Markets
“The continued trend toward true omni-channel grocery customers shows no sights of slowing down. Digital shelf edge technology is growing rapidly and will change the look & feel of today’s grocery stores.”
Eric Stover, President Heritage Grocers Group
“We are not expecting any major price increases from the larger companies at least from the raw material side, with the exception of certain commodities affected by worldwide changes in weather patterns.”
Andy Epstein, CEO at B&A Food Brokers
“Regardless of the shopping channel (online or in-store), customer experience will continue to be the primary focus in cultivating customer loyalty. Grocers are expected to make greater use of customer data and analytics to customize the shopping journey.”
Laura Strange, National Grocers Association (NGA) Senior Vice President, Communications and External Affairs
“Our journey is one of constant evolution. I am excited about the path ahead because of our commitment to serving our customers, supporting our communities, and embracing innovation. Together, we can build a future where supermarkets are not just places to shop but hubs of technologies advancing sustainability and community strength.”
Samuel Collado, President of The National Supermarkets Association (NSA)