Consumers Food Shopping Online
May 17/Entertainment Close-Up -- Consumers, hungry for deals and discounts on food purchases, are increasingly turning to online tools to fill their grocery bags for less, according to Deloitte's "2010 Consumer Food Safety Survey."

The survey found that one-third (33%) of respondents subscribed to receive emails/recipes/coupons directly from food manufacturers/companies, a six percentage point increase from Deloitte's "2008 Consumer Food Safety Survey."

"Today's consumers are using the Internet to not just find nutritional and safety information about the foods they eat, but to find the best value for their dollar," said Pat Conroy, Deloitte's vice chairman and consumer products practice leader in the United States. "If this recession has taught us anything, it's that we don't necessarily have to sacrifice quality for value -- and consumers have figured that out by uncovering the wealth of product promotions and other marketing messages available on the Internet."

Almost a quarter (23%) of respondents said they have visited a food company's website to find out product information, and 23% also made a food purchase as a result of something they read online. In line with the 2008 results, 36% of consumers said they have visited a food company's website to get recipes, compared with 35% in 2008.

Mobile devices are beginning to play a pivotal role for shoppers as they make decisions on what to buy, especially when it comes to price. Seven percent of people who took the survey have used their mobile/smart phone while in a store for a variety of reasons including to: compare prices (53%), get/redeem coupons/discounts (44%) and obtain nutritional information (28%).

When it comes to bargain hunting, men are more aggressive and, according to survey respondents, use their mobile devices more than women, to compare prices (59% to 49%) and obtain/redeem coupons/discounts (53% to 38%). Women, on the other hand, are more focused on using their mobile devices for receiving further nutritional information (36% to 18%).

Store Brands Playing a Substantial Role
Store brands remain a preference over name brands, with 52% of Americans surveyed frequently or always purchasing store brands when shopping for packaged or bottled food items.

Among respondents who purchase store brands, three-quarters (75%) currently purchase these brands because they are less expensive than national brand food products. More than half (55%) surveyed currently purchase store brands because the quality is believed to be comparable to national brand food products, an increase of 14 percentage points since 2008, while 6% say the quality is better (taste, ingredients, organic, etc.) than national brand food products. When broken out by age, 72% of consumers between 61-74 years old, 57% of those 45-60 years old, and 49% among both 30-44 years old and 8-29 years old purchased store brands because of their comparability to nationally branded products.

"In today's economy, consumers believe that they can get quality products without paying higher prices, whether that's from store brands or national brands," noted Conroy. "Consumers realize their shopping choices have expanded giving them the ability to be more selective about their purchases based on a variety of criteria, including but not limited to, quality, quantity, taste, and of course, value. The question companies are asking now is, 'Will this more critical eye towards purchasing be the new norm or just a passing result of the economic downturn?'"

The survey was commissioned by Deloitte and conducted online by an independent research company between March 22 and March 24. The survey polled a nationally representative sample of 1,102 consumers. The survey has a margin of error of +/- three percentage points.

Deloitte's 2010 Consumer Food Safety Survey: www.deloitte.com/us/foodsafety.

From the May 24, 2010, Prepared Foods E-dition