The U.S. Food Marketing System: Recent Developments, 1997-2006

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Major recent developments in the U.S. food system include the increasing presence of nontraditional grocery retailers, such as supercenters and drugstores, and competitive responses by traditional grocers, such as supermarket chains. These developments have contributed to sharp increases in concentration in the grocery retail sector, changing conventional relationships among retailers, wholesalers, and manufacturers. In such a competitive domestic food market, food companies are attempting to differentiate themselves from the competition by reporting voluntary activities that demonstrate social responsibility and by more-tailored advertising campaigns and product offerings.


  • Competition from Nonfood Stores and Responses by Food Retailers
    • Strategies Companies Use for Positioning Themselves

    • Strategic Positioning by Nontraditional Food Outlets
    • Foodservice Gains
    • Strategic Responses by Traditional Grocery Outlets
    • Global Competitive Strategies
  • Increases in Food Retail Concentration Resonate Throughout the Food Industry
    • Structural Changes in Food Distribution

    • Structural Changes in Food and Beverage Processing
    • Recent Mergers, Acquisitions, and Divestitures in the Food System
  • Food Companies Expand Corporate Responsibility Reporting and Customized Marketing
    • The Corporate Social Responsibility Movement

    • New Product Introductions
    • Advertising
Steve Martinez
USDA Economic Research Service