Interior Design

3 Grocery Shopping Trends We're Keeping an Eye on

July 20, 2017

Our options for grocery shopping continue to change, from traditional brick and mortar stores to online ordering and personal delivery models. What will buying food be like in the future?

We think grocery stores are here to stay; rather, people want to be able to see, smell, and touch their produce before buying it, whether that's in a physical store or outdoor market. But aside from the sensory elements that draw us to food, there are other considerations that will affect the way we will grocery shop. Below are three different approaches to grocery store design that may be solutions for shopping now and in the future. (Now, how can we combine them all into one?)

Bulk It Up

When you think of bulk food shopping, you might think of your local food co-op or slightly hippie-leaning holistic health food store. Many foods that are found at a typical grocery store don't necessarily need to be refrigerated or individually wrapped. As we consider climate change, reducing carbon emissions, and reducing waste, bulk food shopping makes sense for many reasons and should be more widely available. We love the beautiful, modern approach these grocery stores are taking abroad, giving this type of shopping a fresh and enticing look.

The cafe at Unpackaged Photo by Joe Clark
Colorful displays throughout Unpackaged Photo by Joe Clark

Unpackaged is a grocery store based in London that includes a cafe and bar. A majority of its products are sold without packaging. Multistorey, the design firm behind the Hackney location, creates a highly visual space with black painted peg board and pops of rich color.

A bulk food shopper's dream at the Farm Wholefoods Photo by The Farm Wholefoods, Australia

The Farm Wholefoods in Australia is founded by a husband and wife duo, one of whom is an architect; the market's natural ethos is reflected in the design, creating a bright market aesthetic with modern farmstand appeal. The Farm Wholefoods is part bulk pantry and part whole foods cafe.

Industrial materials, fixtures, and hardware at Original Unverpackt Photo by Doppel Berlin
A display of bulk dry goods and fresh produce at Original Unverpackt Photo by Kitty Kleist-Heinrich, The Packaging Insider

Original Unverpackt is Berlin's first grocery store chain that eliminates single-use, disposable packaging from its products. Nau Architects designed this shop with a nod to the store's previous tenants, ranging from an industrial factory to a butcher shop, and contrasts it with modern forms.

Produce With Personality

Did you know that 133 billion pounds of food is wasted each year in the U.S., enough to fill 44 skyscrapers? In a step to reduce food waste, more grocery stores now offer and promote imperfect fruits and vegetables. Produce considered "ugly" is perfectly fine to eat, with many grocery stores are starting to offer them at a discount. Other stores use them to make vegetable soups and fresh juices for purchase. We think that's genius!

Produce with Personality, a program piloted at Giant Eagle stores in Pittsburgh Photo by Giant Eagle
Branding and advertising for Intermarché's Inglorious Fruits & Vegetables campaign Photo by Truly Deeply

To the future

Many companies are defining the future of grocery shopping by developing the connection between technology and food. Here are a few pilot programs that explore both information about food in the aisles as well as the complete chain of where it comes from.

Sensor-activated food display panels at The Supermarket of the Future Photo by Carlo Ratti Associati
How technology driven will our food shopping be? Here's the prototype for The Supermarket of the Future Photo by Carlo Ratti Associati

In December, Coop, Italy's largest supermarket chain opened a prototype for The Supermarket of the Future in Milan. The grocery store was developed by MIT's Senseable City Lab and Carlo Ratti Associati to create a grocery shopping model that is both technology- and experience-based. Sensor activated panels recognize and scan produce to display information like nutrition content, price, potential allergens, pesticide use, and origin. Other monitors in the store show videos for cooking suggestions and advertisements for top-selling products. These are all details to allow shoppers to make more informed decisions for food purchasing and spark conversations, creating social links among customers.

Amazon Go's no-checkout grocery shopping concept Photo by Amazon
It's all app- and technology-based shopping at Amazon Go Photo by Amazon

You may have already read about Amazon Go's new cashless model for grocery shopping that opened earlier this year in Seattle. Customers use an app to scan QR codes to enter the store, and machine-learning technology identifies when items are placed or removed from shopping carts. When you walk out of the store, your account is automatically charged.

What do you think about these grocery shopping models and what do you want to see in the future? Tell us in the comments.

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Lyna Vuong

Written by: Lyna Vuong

I'm a food studies grad student, cook, and interior designer. (I love a colorful palate/palette!)

1 Comment

BerryBaby July 20, 2017
I'm sure there is an audience for these but I am not one of them. They are very very high tech which is great but I'm just not into that I have no need for it. Call me old school but I want my crackers in a box, my juice and milk in cartons, meat packaged, frozen food in bags and I want to pick out my own produce and stick it in a plastic. Call me old-fashioned but that's what I like it.