IFMA Presidents Conference: Making the Most of Today's and Tomorrow's Consumer Trends

On this episode of "On Foodable Weekly," Paul Barron meets up with industry leaders Dawn Sweeney and Larry Oberkfell at the IFMA Presidents Conference. The Presidents Conference provides cutting-edge research to operators, manufacturers, and distributors within the industry. With sessions discussing consumer trends, category management, and regulation impacts of the recent election, attendees packed the lecture halls. Much of the research presented was in reaction to questions asked by attendees. Today, we look at trends facing the industry as well as changes we can expect to see in the near future.

One such trend is the rise of the new-age consumer. Millennials are now the largest and most influential generation since the baby boomers, and as such, have been a major focus in the industry. However, Larry Oberkfell, president and CEO of IFMA, discusses how age is not the most important factor, nor is demographics.

“We look at it as how do we help our members get all the business, if they can, in their products to that consumer wherever they go. So to us, it’s not really a channel question as much as it is a consumer behavior question,” he said.

Dawn Sweeney, president and CEO of the National Restaurant Association, also talks about millennials and their role as an emerging market. She notes that although 50 percent of  consumers are starting to demand restaurant-quality food in their homes, millennials are making up an enormous portion of the trend with 80 percent of millennials looking for restaurant-quality food in their homes. Sweeney discusses how the industry needs to react to these consumer behaviors.

“Years ago, we had the drive-through, then we had the three small parking spaces outside the restaurant where you can park if you’re getting something to go. I think we have to reinvent that restaurant experience,” she said.

Watch the full episode to learn more about the trends facing the industry and how industry leaders propose operators, manufacturers and distributors make the most of them.