Los Angeles GettyImages-1367870443

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If LA continues to push the boundaries of a shopper’s experience and demands, the UK retailer landscape still has a way to go

Having been based in California for the past month or so, I have taken the opportunity to fully indulge myself in the LA food scene – and it’s been great.

The restaurant service and food creativity is amazing (I have yet to have a bad meal out) and, while portions are sometimes large, I applaud the US for the ‘doggy bag’ being an expectation for leftovers – a needed lesson for us Brits. I’ve been really impressed by the plant-based cuisine – menus feel playful and exciting, even making our neglected brussels sprout a true joy!

Another clear observation is the high cost for healthy fresh food vs the UK. However, the demand for organic and local is greater and the interest in provenance and smaller, purpose-led brands is growing faster in LA than in London.

Planet Organic

Organic produce is big business in LA

Exploring this, I was fascinated by one high-end supermarket chain called Erewhon, which has 10 stores across LA and is dedicated to offering the highest level of healthy and organic produce. It seems to be growing at a rapid rate.

When I visited my nearest Erewhon, there was a traffic jam of cars waiting to get in, with parking attendants directing the queue.

Once inside the red brick store, which features the word ‘Erewhon’ simply painted in large letters on to the brick, it became clear it wasn’t your average retailer.

Shelves are full of beautifully packed products, mainly in returnable packaging, while almost a third of the shop is dedicated to a large deli with hot and cold dishes, health-based smoothies, juices and coffees – everything looked like it would make you feel a million dollars.

Shoppers were reading the backs of labels with interest, and queueing at the checkout in large numbers. There is clearly a growing generation with a heightened interest in sustainability, new exciting flavours and food as medicine. Consumers are spending more on wellness than ever before and I can only see this trend growing.

Therefore, if LA continues to be a trend-setter and pushes the boundaries of a shopper’s experience and demands, the UK retailer landscape still has a way to go.

For startups, however, I believe it’s a very exciting time to play in the market – provided we can focus on serving the rising generation of intrigued foodies.