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Feature Articles: Trends

What's In and What's Out When it Comes to Food?

Karma Metzgar, C.F.C.S. Northwest Regional Director
University of Missouri Extension

Pizza and hamburger chains dominate the "to-go" market.

Why do you buy food? Price? Convenience? You have a coupon? You're hungry? Perhaps you can relate to one of these reasons. There a few new products that hit the market that are quite trendy--fitting the buyer's needs to a tee.

The Institute of Food Technology has identified some trends that reflect our age, our spending habits, our culture and our demand for convenience.

Here are a half-dozen trends for the history books regarding our food buying preferences and habits.

  1. Do-it-for-me-foods. Premade meals and take-out rule the roost! More than half of all meals in mid-scale casual restaurants were eaten off the premises last year. Pizza and hamburger chains dominate the "to-go" market.
  2. Balance. In our attempt to simplify our lives, consumers are seeing an overall balance and moderation in their eating habits. Gone are the days of all-out avoidance of certain types of foods, obsessing over fat-free, or overdoing it on fiber. It is variety and moderation.
  3. Form Follows Function (Bits, Bites, Bags.) Appetizers are one of the most versatile forms of foods in the decade ahead. They provide a vehicle for socializing and sharing, and economical means to try new tastes, and provide an excuse to eat with our hands, especially during the ever-expanding daily commute.
  4. A New Kind of Home-Spun. Home is still the preferred place to eat, but fewer consumers know how to cook and fewer still want to clean-up afterward. So, it's time for family-sized portions perfect for sharing, one-dish meals that go from the oven to the dinner table, to the sink or dishwasher-or trash can!
  5. Kid-Influenced. With nearly 40 million children between the ages of 5 to 14 and another 14 million in high school, American kids help shape the food-buying practices in the household. An emerging market will be the youth-health category as one in four kids is overweight; 27 million teenagers and younger have high cholesterol; 2.2 million have high blood pressure; and 85 percent of children don't get five servings a day of fruit and vegetables. And with mom, dad, and the kids eating out more regularly, restaurant-branded retail products should have an impact at the checkout line.
  6. Light and Lively. There's an increasing demand for products and ingredients to be presented with a fresher and more natural image. Look for a layered look to meat, poultry and seafood, as accompanied by fruits and vegetables. Even fried foods will reside on the same plate with fresh items or topped with veggies to achieve freshness appeal.

Trends. It's a picture of who we are, what we like, and what we are willing to buy. What is in is creative convenience, freshness and sophistication. As the population ages, health and weight will continue to play a major factor in food selection, but along with nutrition balance, and the message we still want to have fun.



Last update: Tuesday, May 05, 2009








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