Shoppers generally continue to be satisfied with their supermarkets; they're concerned about the environment and nutrition; and, in an apparent effort to offset increasing prices, more are using coupons and switching to less costly store brands.
These are just some of this year's trends, reported recently by the nonprofit Food Marketing Institute in Washington.
FMI says this year's annual survey, the 20th, showed:
*More than eight in 10 shoppers gave their primary supermarket a rating of good or excellent for its convenient location, quality produce, good variety, courteous and friendly employees and good-quality meat. But only two out of three gave the good or excellent rating for low prices or fast checkout.
*Larger weekly grocery bills reflect a rise in consumer prices. From 1990 to 1991, the average bill increased from $74 to $79, the first significant increase since 1986, when it jumped from $68 to $74. The average per-person weekly expenditure also increased significantly, from $29 to $32.
*Meanwhile, the importance of a market providing "items on sale or money-saving specials" rose from 84 percent in 1989 to 88 percent this year. Fewer shoppers, however, said they regularly bought groceries at discount or warehouse stores.
*Price-off coupons (36 percent) and scanning the newspaper for grocery specials (33 percent) continue to be popular ways to economize.
*More shoppers are recycling aluminum (74 percent), newspapers (64 percent), plastics (48 percent) and glass (44 percent), at their grocery stores or elsewhere.
*Nutrition is second only to taste as the factor of greatest importance to shoppers.