Target’s Doing What? The Way Consumers Shop for Groceries May Never Be The Same
From all-natural and organic food labels spreading like wildfire, to fresh groceries delivered straight to consumers’ doorsteps with the click of a button, the Food and Beverage industry is continuously changing in order to better suit consumers’ evolving needs.
Vertical farming is an agricultural technique wherein plants and produce are grown indoors in precisely programmed conditions. As brands and retailers turn to local sources for shorter, faster and more efficient supply chains, this retail trend is bound to grow.
Why this could be a smart move for Target
Last year, Target announced that they would explore urban farming in collaboration with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and design firm IDEO. Today, their research has proven to be fruitful and the retail chain will be debuting in-store vertical farms as of next spring!
“Food is a big part of our current portfolio today at Target — it does $20 billion of business for us,” Casey Carl, Target’s Chief Strategy and Innovation Officer told Business Insider. “We need to be able to see more effectively around corners in terms of where [sic] the overall food and agriculture industries are going domestically and globally.”
In an increasingly competitive retail market, this may just be what sets Target apart from the rest. Having had problems in the past – Target reported perishable losses higher than the industry average – this move could be essential to Target’s growth and give them a leg up over their competitors.
Currently, the in-store farming model is still in its early testing stages, with trials being held in stores to see how consumers react. Shoppers will potentially harvest their own produce or watch as Target associates pick the produce to stock on store shelves.
The sheer variety of produce is a great step towards differentiating Target from its grocery-providing competitors as well. “[MIT has] access to some [various] seed banks around the world,” explained Greg Shewmaker, one of Target’s resident entrepreneurs. “We’re playing with ancient varietals of different things, like tomatoes that haven’t been grown in over a century, different kinds of peppers, things like that, just to see if it’s possible.” Shewmaker estimates that by Spring 2017, Target will be growing complete, in-store environments.
Why this could be a smart move for you
Like many things that have surfaced within the world of commerce this year, this all sounds brand new and frankly, incurs more questions than it does answers. But from a brand or retailer’s perspective, being able to harvest your own goods in-house is an absolute game changer. We already see it with craft brands, like Anointment, who are able to source all of their natural materials from their very own backyards. It will be interesting to see how this scales up.
What do you think of in-store vertical farming? Is it a viable option for your business? Be sure to let us know your thoughts down below!
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