Cellphones look set to replace the supermarket checkout when you do your grocery shopping.

With the push of a button you will scan an item with your phone and it will tell you everything you want to know about the product and the company that made it.

And, when you walk out the door your money will automatically be taken from your account.

This is the supermarket of the future and, according to "The Supermarket Guru" Phil Lempert, who is visiting New Zealand from the United States, that future is not too far away.

Speaking to the Herald as he walked the aisles of New World Albany yesterday, Mr Lempert said a growing consumer conscience and mobile phone technology in the US are changing the way people shop.

Mr Lempert, who is in the country to address supermarket suppliers and members of the NZ Food and Grocery Council today, said New Zealand shoppers will see the changes within the next few years.

"You're going to see people shopping up and down the aisles with an iPad. Look up the brand name, it will tell you everything you need to know about that company. It's going to get rid of the bad ones and promote the good ones."

Demands around country of origin labelling are huge in the US and New Zealand appears set to follow, but Mr Lempert said that was just the start.

Customers are growing increasingly concerned about the ethical issues around food, from ingredients to packaging - and even a company's carbon footprint.

Eventually, Mr Lempert believes, we will see mobile phones that connect live to cameras on farms that will show shoppers exactly how the animals they are about to eat are being looked after.

"We want to know where our food comes from, we want to know about the company, we want to know who the investors are. It's about sustainability and traceability."

Customers also want to know what charities a company supports.

Mr Lempert is predicting that supermarkets will move away from large stores with "too many choices" to smaller stores with simpler selections.

Instead of dozens of choices of olive oil, for example, Mr Lempert said there will just be five.

"What consumers are saying is there's too many choices."

Mr Lempert said fewer staff would be needed but those who were there would be educated in their products and focused on customer service.

Items in a customer's bag will automatically be paid for by technology that detects the shopping as they leave.

"There's no reason that we need a checkout."

Mr Lempert said that compared with US supermarkets, New Zealand's were "a lot cleaner".

The Guru's Predictions:
* Cellphones to replace checkouts as we scan our own products and pay automatically.

* Growing consumer conscience - we want to know where our food has come from, whether it is made sustainably, if the packaging is sustainable, whether the company who made it donates to sustainable causes, who the investors are.

* Smaller stores with more basic product ranges as we currently have too much to choose from.

* Fewer staff. Supermarket departments will each have a staff member at a centralised counter as an educated expert.