The grocery leader offered insight into the future of grocery stores. Robb quoted a magazine article which suggested that the millennial generation (Generation Y) – those born from the early 1980s to the early 2000s – will make 30 percent of all retail grocery purchases by 2020.

A continuing trend is consumers’ thirst for knowledge about where their food comes from, learning the name of the farmer who grew the crop, gleaning information on different fruit varieties, and why the grower chose to grow a variety over other choices.

Robb said, “Customers want to know why you selected a variety and what makes it different. This is another opportunity to develop your repertoire.”

“This is truly a food revolution,” Robb added. “More customers are interested in their food, where it comes from, who is growing it, how it is grown, and how to cook it.”

Robb offered advice to the food-to-fork crowd - continue to evolve - evolve - evolve. The marketplace, customer, and technology continue to change. Be willing to continually change, keep an open mind, learn, and grow.”

Robb said the farm-to-fork food chain should focus on food-based health education. For example, Whole Foods conducts cooking classes in its stores. This helps the customer and markets the store brand.

“We want to make it clear to our customers that we want to be the healthiest grocer in the marketplace.”

Robb noted, “There is a new fascination with cooking. Ultimately if you want to be healthy you have to cook. You have to learn about the ingredients and how to prepare them. The renaissance around cooking and food shows is very exciting.”

Another focus point is the quality and taste of food products. Ultimately, this sells a product, he says. Some grocery stores and health clubs offer juice bars.

“Juice is ‘in’ right now and is on fire.”

Another point Robb made is that consumers expect transparency and traceability.

“Clearly the customer expects their food to be safe.”

Food safety is job one in the field, packing shed, warehouse, transportation, and the grocery store.

“Food safety continues to keep me up at night,” Robb shared. “It takes just one situation to set us (the industry) back.”