retail news in context, analysis with attitude

MaineToday.com reports on the growth of natural and organic food sections in the nation’s supermarkets. “Natural foods has become a significant growth area in the retail food industry for several years and the surest sign is the greater prominence, as well as space, that chain grocery stores dedicate to such products,” the site reports.

Of particular interest in this story is the double-edged sword that natural and organic foods offer to retailers.

On the one hand, smaller retailers with an expertise in this area are able to use these categories as a way to create a differential advantage for themselves. The piece profiles Maine’s Dean and Kathy Bureau, who started Uncle Dean's Good Groceries more than two decades ago, and now are expanding into a much larger store because of their strength in natural foods.

However, since big businesses have recognized the potential offered by health food, major chains and big box stores are expanding their presence. “What remains to be seen is whether the increased commercialization of the industry will make the traditional health food store disappear as supermarkets and national whole-food markets establish an ever larger presence in the market,” the article notes.
KC's View:
In our view, the real difference will be made by the stores that hire the right people. When you go into the best natural and health food stores, they are staffed by people who live the life…and are able to offer advice, information, and illumination.

Just erecting health food sections isn’t enough. Not for this consumer niche.