Rise Of The Tech Enabled Consumer - Changing Our Relationship With And Access To Food

Mobile phone technology has done more than make it easier to connect with each other. It’s made it simpler to connect with food. Now we are witnessing the rise of the tech enabled consumer, and it’s changing how we shop for food and how that food is made and delivered.

Previously the power of the traditional food channel determined what type of food was available, when, and where. Scale and volume were the most important factors. The big farms and large national stores produced and sold the highest volume, lowest cost products, with as little variety as possible. It didn’t leave consumers with much choice.

Now, with the ability of the consumer to connect digitally by mobile phone almost instantly with food makers of all types and sizes, the supply chain for food is being disrupted and the types of food choices are expanding. This impact is changing the agricultural landscape and putting more power in the hands of consumers, their dietary preferences, and their values. More specifically, technology is making the notion of farm-to-fork more streamlined than ever.

In the past, smaller products and brands were unable to compete. They now have a chance to build a digital brand community among a growing segment of tech enabled consumers who want to order directly from food makers and farms and don’t want to leave their home to get it. This has impacted sales of major CPG brands causing general declines over the past several years. It has also resulted in rapid growth of small farms and food makers entering the natural and organic food grocery category with double digit growth.

Here are four trends that are driving the tech enabled food consumer.

Convenient Nutrition

Consumers want food that’s healthy and easy to get. Spooked by constant reports about the harmful effects of processed foods and ingredients from big industrial farms that heavily use fertilizers and GMO seeds, consumers are switching to natural and organic food and packaged goods that are ‘better-for-you’. They also are recognizing that what’s on the shelf of their local grocery store may not fall into this category. With mobile technology allowing consumers more convenient access to nutritious foods, they are choosing that channel to shop.

 Grate Roots makes the freshest chopped premium horseradish that has a wide range of nutritional benefits, including fighting cancer.

Grate Roots makes the freshest chopped premium horseradish that has a wide range of nutritional benefits, including fighting cancer.

Environment

Issues of food waste, proper management of the land, and stewardship of the environment are important aspects when choosing which brands to support for the tech enabled consumer. The constant warning of climate change and carbon footprint created by food production has made consumers more concerned about the impact of their choices on the environment. The increase of sustainable food start-ups allows the consumers to connect with them more fluidly through technology and make purchases.

 Texas Black Gold Garlic powers their operations in San Antonio 100% from solar energy.

Texas Black Gold Garlic powers their operations in San Antonio 100% from solar energy.

Transparency

More consumers today want transparency in the food chain. They want to know where their food comes from, who makes it and why, and what goes in it. The supply chain from farm to fork is now just as important as the food itself. The tech enabled consumer wants to be able to tap into that information instantly before making a purchase. The demand for this information will change agriculture as the ability to make choices about which farms our food comes from is switching from the national chains to the consumer.

 Fat Uncle Farms in California's Central Valley grows almonds without irrigation or fertilizers.

Fat Uncle Farms in California's Central Valley grows almonds without irrigation or fertilizers.

Social Purpose

Saving the planet and improving the conditions for its citizens were causes usually taken on by non-governmental organizations. Now they are the mission of a growing segment of food start ups that want to do good at the local, national, or global level. The appeal to the tech enabled consumer is huge. With only a few taps to make a purchase from a mission-based food start up, they can help a social cause at the same time. Tech makes it easier to combine the two activities. By connecting with local food startups consumers feel more empowered at the grass roots level with every purchase.

 Ground Up PDX in Portland makes delicious nut butters and gives disadvantaged women a platform for career growth.

Ground Up PDX in Portland makes delicious nut butters and gives disadvantaged women a platform for career growth.

The shift to using tech to shop by mobile app is already under way. Treatmo app is a native iOS mobile commerce technology platform that makes it easier than ever for food start ups create digital store fronts so that the tech enabled consumer can access their food instantly. The app makes convenient nutrition possible with easier discovery and simplified checkout so that consumers have better-for-you food at their fingertips.

The natural food businesses using Treatmo are able to indicate where their food comes from and values important to consumers whether Non-GMO, organic or sustainably run. The store front technology greatly improves transparency as users can access information about the business and products just by tapping icons on one page instead of tapping through multiple screens to get to the basics before selecting an item.

Lastly, the technology attracts businesses with a social purpose since it’s easier to communicate that story. 

The rise of the tech enabled consumer is not just changing access to next gen food and highlighting values important to consumers, it’s also changing the agriculture supply chain making the ecosystem for food less concentrated and more open for innovation and enjoyment. Treatmo is seeing that happen already on its mobile commerce platform and expects the changes to continue at a fast pace and benefit all involved.

You can learn more about Treatmo mobile commerce platform for food makers and farms here.

Download the app on iTunes and tap directly into the next gen food system.