BELLEVUE, Wash. — The Hartman Group has found that consumers are embracing eating foods raw, and that could bode well for fresh produce departments.
Eating foods raw is gaining in popularity because people perceive foods in their natural, raw state as being good for digestion and good for boosting energy, the researchers said.
Even though they do not predict that eating a strict diet of raw food will become a long-term trend, Hartman officials theorized it could have a lasting effect on consumers' future food choices — maybe more fruit, and cut, raw vegetables.
“This is fantastic news for the produce industry, but your average consumer is less inclined to adhere to a [strictly] raw food diet,” Melissa Abbott, Hartman's director of culinary insights, told SN.
“That said, and with spring and summer approaching, eating raw is a fine way to get consumers eating more produce,” she said, adding that the South Beach diet encouraged consumers to avoid white grains and look for better carbs.
Abbott said the Hartman Group last year conducted in-home qualitative/ethnographic interviews with consumers, as well as “shop-n-talks” to better understand consumers' reasons for “going raw.”
“Shop-n-talks are part of ethnographic methodology where we shadow the consumer on a real shopping trip and ask why they stopped in front of certain products, why they picked up another product, read the label and then put it back on the shelf, etc.”
A recent issue of HartmanSalt, the Hartman Group's food trends newsletter, features an article on eating raw foods.
“We can deduce that consumers view raw eating as being based on whole foods that are unprocessed, which leads to better digestion, due in part to live enzymes which impart more energy,” the article states. “[But,] while the flavor of raw foods is associated with fresh, vibrant and ‘connected to the earth,’ the ease of use requires additional skill and preparation time.”
Abbott said what surprised the Hartman research team was the level of involvement required to follow a raw-food-only diet, and therefore, many respondents that had followed such a diet said they now eat a modified raw diet.