Many of the food retailers exhibiting this week at the Fancy Food Show (http://www.specialtyfood.com/do/Home) are promoting unique, often relatively costly, foods, such as speciality sauces, dressings and boxed goods. These lovely products usually cost 2x or more the boring counterpart at Safeway, and generally can't be qualified as required nutrition, falling into the nice to have category.
How will such foods do in the marketplace in 2009? With limited consumer spending, who can justify an $8 bottle of salad dressing? While I can't swear the food industry won't take a hit, I think spending will still be good. Already, the personal care industry, especially the body lotions, bubble baths and cheaper makeup products, have actually been selling better than normal. The prevailing wisdom is two-fold: one, consumers need comfort during stressful times, two, while a $10 bubble bath isn't cheap or necessary, it's cheaper than a $1000 vacation to Hawaii. Consumers, unless truly out of cash, look for escape and small rewards. While an $8 bottle of dressing is also not cheap, $8 is less than the cost of most nice restaurant salads, and feeds several people.
It's quite possible the luxury foods industry will do just fine in 2009, provided the products promoted are worthwhile. I'll let you know more about the trends I see at the Specialty Food Show this week.