It's that time once again where we pull back the curtain and reveal our annual food and shopping predictions based on our research conducted with our partner ConAgra Foods and findings from the SupermarketGuru.com Consumer Panel.
1. Grazing golden-agers: Ninety-one percent of people say they snack daily, according to Nielsen. While snacking is on the rise among all ages and genders, research shows that snacking among consumers over the age of 65 could contribute to additional years with a higher quality of life. We'll see more boomers — those raised in the "three square meals a day" era — employ a "grazing" approach to eating foods rich in nutrients like protein, fiber and Omega3s that can help promote bone health.
2. Same-day delivery not just for city clickers: grocery shopping goes 24/7: Online grocery shopping and delivery has become a crowded space, with a host of services competing for consumer attention. This trend allows everyone who sells food and beverages to be in the same-day delivery business without having to add additional operational infrastructure. Look for Uber and Google Shopping Express to put every supermarket in the same day delivery business and change consumer behavior to shop daily for prepared foods and recipe driven meal kits that contain all the ingredients and be delivered to homes and offices.
3. Everything smoked: Just when you thought the bacon trend had cooled off, restaurateurs and at-home cooks are continuing to turn up the heat. The demand for smoked foods has risen as chefs begin to apply smoking and grilling to add some sizzle and impart new flavor to other proteins and alternatives like vegetables, butters, and even cocktails. And, with smokers gaining in popularity in backyards across America, at-home cooks are also experimenting with smoking non-traditional foods.
4. The rise of fermented oods: 2015 will be the year fermented foods — foods like yogurt, tempeh, pickles and sauerkraut take center stage. These foods contain live cultures, or are preserved in liquid so their sugars and starches can become bacteria-boosting agents. After multi-year growth of gluten-free foods and probiotics, many consumers have found their digestive health improved. In fact, a survey from ConAgra Foods found that nearly 50% of Americans have changed their diet to help improve digestion, with nearly 20% doing so in the past year.
5. Gen Z: chefs everyday: Millennials' passion for food-related adventures is undeniable, but Gen Z, the demographic group born after Millennials (1995 to present day), brings an entire new set of food values to the kitchen table. Exposed at a young age to more flavors and variety than previous generations, Gen Z's collective attitude toward food is simplicity and health. They tend to use stove tops rather than microwaves for cooking meals and fresh ingredients to prepared foods. Research by NPD Group indicates some of their favorite foods to cook include eggs/omelets, hot dogs, potatoes and fresh chicken, which they can "dress up" with their own unique touch.
6. Craft foods make their way into kitchens everywhere: Typically associated with foods made in small batches with specialized, local ingredients, major companies are finding ways to produce craft foods in larger quantities. The phenomenon of craft beer brought new excitement, flavors and sales to the struggling beer industry: MillerCoors and Anheuser-Busch InBev are two examples of major companies that have made the jump to more locally produced, limited distribution and sub-brands. In 2015, look for this trend to extend to other beverages and food, as Millennials in particular continue to seek unique tastes and foods with authentic origin stories. Pepsi's new Caleb's Kola and ConAgra Foods' Alexia potatoes are two examples.
7. Nutrition labels: No longer just on packaged foods: As consumers want more information about their foods, innovative devices like Prep Pad will soon offer this information instantaneously. The Prep Pad pairs with an iPad app to calculate the exact nutritional content of your meals, including the carbs, fats, protein and calories by scanning the bar code of food packages used as ingredients or the items on your plate. Information about a food's ingredients, chemical makeup or nutritional values will become more readily available and commonplace in the supermarket and our kitchens.
8. Supermarkets convert into socializing spaces: Supermarkets have evolved from straightforward centers where consumers could buy groceries to purveyors of lifestyle. Supermarkets are developing a variety of services that help set them apart and establish each outlet as an ambassador of niche lifestyle trends. A desire to be "all things food" to their customers, is positioning them as head to head competitors with chain and local restaurants. Retailers are building full-service high quality restaurants as part of their brick and mortar operations. Experienced culinarians, usually CIA trained chefs with many years of experience, are offering unique dishes, local foods and beverages. Cooking classes, events and seminars are giving consumers reasons beyond a grocery list to step inside their neighborhood store.
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