Contractors who rely on supermarket work as a steady form of income may want to take note of some statistics emerging from that sector.

The store owner paying the contractor for services rendered must rely on a steady stream of buying customers coming into the store. So, that store owner wants to know everything possible about that customer.

Each year, the Food Marketing Institute (FMI) surveys those buyers to find out what they want. And some of what they want relates directly to the mechanical refrigeration equipment, especially as it pertains to fresh and frozen food and food safety.


The report (“Trends in the United States: Consumer Attitudes & the Supermarket, 2002”) shows consumers economizing, seeking healthier mealtime solutions and more variety from food retailers.

While they have cut back on spending somewhat, consumers are spending more money at the primary supermarket where they shop and expressing more interest in preparing home-cooked meals.

The increasing significance of the supermarket is reflected in a trend away from eating out. The report said, “Eating main meals away from home declined in the past year, due mostly to economic concerns and consumers showing a greater inclination to prepare home-cooked meals.”

Of special interest to refrigeration contractors is that consumers “express a high level of confidence in the safety of food purchased at supermarkets, and they are showing an increased interest in irradiated food products.”

Added to that is the fact that consumers deem cleanliness, as well as high-quality fruits, vegetables, and meats, important when choosing a primary supermarket. These are areas over which the contractor has at least partial control, since they are often related to proper servicing of refrigerated display cases and proper cleanup after service is performed.


Those buyers have a high level of confidence in the safety of the food purchased at their supermarkets — including products in freezers, coolers, and display cases.

The statistics show than 81% of those surveyed expressed that high level of confidence.

Shoppers seem to realize that they are partially responsible for their own food safety — but they also expect the stores, manufacturers, and government agencies to share in that responsibility.

An added issue is irradiation. According to the report, “Concerns over food safety may have renewed interest in irradiated food, with 53% of consumers reporting an interest in purchasing irradiated products.” The report also noted that “A heightened awareness of irradiation, due largely to news reports of irradiated mail during the Anthrax cases in late 2001, may have enhanced consumer interest in irradiation as a food safety tool.”

The report is based on 2,000 telephone interviews conducted in January 2002. Each person interviewed was determined to be a head of the household with primary responsibility for food shopping and to have shopped in the two weeks prior to the interview.

Information on the report may be obtained by contacting FMI Research Department at 202-452-8444.

Publication date: 10/07/2002