Top 10 Food Predictions for 2013 Include More Men in the Kitchen, Resurgence of Frozen Foods

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The aver­age Amer­i­can spends less than 9% of their income on food, which is the low­est per­cent­age of cit­i­zens of any oth­er coun­try, and less than Amer­i­cans spent back in 1982 (13%). Hav­ing expe­ri­enced the worst drought in 50 years on over 60% of all farm­land in the U.S., the USDA has pre­dict­ed that food prices will con­tin­ue to rise.  Even mod­est food price increas­es will affect both retail­ers and con­sumers in the com­ing year. prepared food

Snack­able mini-meals and frozen foods take cen­ter stage in super­mar­ket aisles this year while dads and Mil­len­ni­als get more com­fort­able and pow­er­ful in the kitchen. This year, we pre­dict the most dra­mat­ic food changes are not what con­sumers are eat­ing, but rather who is doing the shop­ping and how con­sumers are eat­ing.

The 10 major trends to watch in the food indus­try:

SNACKING AND MINI-MEALS:  Think small­er bites and more fre­quent eat­ing pat­terns that reduce over­all por­tion size and increase vari­ety.  Accord­ing to the NPD Group, more than half of Amer­i­cans snack two to three times per day, while one in five eat­ing occa­sions is a snack.

MEN IN THE SUPERMARKET, KITCHEN:  Men and dads are get­ting more com­fort­able and pow­er­ful in the kitchen. Look for super­mar­kets to increase their focus on men in 2013 as they’ve become more active in shop­ping, meal plan­ning and cook­ing. Accord­ing to a June 2012 sur­vey from Cone Com­mu­ni­ca­tions, more dads than moms (52% com­pared with 46%) plan meals for the week ahead. Some super­mar­kets exper­i­ment­ed with “man aisles” — look for this con­cept to expand to mul­ti­ple loca­tions in the store fea­tur­ing male-oriented foods, recipes and oth­er pro­mo­tion­al tools to make shop­ping and impulse buy ing more tar­get­ed.

EVOLUTION OF FROZEN FOODS:  Few­er meals are made from scratch, as many Amer­i­cans don’t have time to spend in the kitchen.  The myth that home-cooked is always more nutri­tious than frozen has been debunked; mar­ket­ing extols facts like frozen fruits and veg­eta­bles are typ­i­cal­ly har­vest­ed in sea­son and flash frozen — and cost less, rein­forc­ing the FDA state­ment that there is vir­tu­al­ly no nutri­tion­al dif­fer­ence between fresh and frozen fruits and  veg­eta­bles.

THE IMPACT OF MILLENNIALS:  In 2013, super­mar­kets and food com­pa­nies will cater more toward Mil­len­ni­al con­sumers with afford­able foods that are fla­vor­ful and eth­ni­cal­ly diverse. Mil­len­ni­als, those born between 1982 and 2001, will rep­re­sent 19% of the pop­u­la­tion by 2020, and will have dou­ble the buy­ing pow­er for food-at-home. Mil­len­ni­als also love food, and their pas­sion­ate inter­est is led by their desire to under­stand where foods are from, prepa­ra­tion and how food is served.  A recent Jef­feries Alix Part­ners study found that Mil­len­ni­als are also deal seek­ers and are much more focused on find­ing the low­est price over brand loy­al­ty.

SMART HOME, SMARTPHONE:  Smart­phones and tech­nol­o­gy are preva­lent in the food indus­try, but the newest wave of tech­nol­o­gy includes smart­phones that net­work with kitchen appli­ances and allow con­sumers to do every­thing from check­ing how much milk they have left in the refrig­er­a­tor, to turn­ing the oven on from anoth­er room. The next gen­er­a­tion of mobile apps may deter­mine if fruits and veg­eta­bles are ripe, if refrig­er­at­ed and frozen foods have been kept at the cor­rect tem­per­a­ture farm to freez­er, and even test for food­borne bac­te­ria — a per­son­al “food lab” in every shopper’s pock­et.

BREAKFAST BECOMES THE MOST IMPORTANT MEAL OF THE DAY:  90% of U.S. con­sumers say they eat break­fast every day (NPD Group), but the con­ver­sa­tion is shift­ing to what foods are best to eat for break­fast, and tak­ing break­fast foods into oth­er day parts. Break­fast foods are typ­i­cal­ly high in pro­tein (e.g., eggs, egg whites, yogurts, milk) and as the nation con­tin­ues to focus on high pro­tein foods, look for these less expen­sive pro­teins to replace the high­er priced meats for some meal occa­sions.

ON-PACKAGE LABELING:  2013 will be a tran­si­tion­al year as on-package claims pro­lif­er­ate and con­fuse. Look as super­mar­kets take on the role of gate­keep­er and actu­al­ly demand proof and trans­paren­cy of claims before they will per­mit prod­ucts to be sold on their shelves. The role of retail dieti­tians will increase as their influ­ence and edu­ca­tion become more impor­tant to every­day buy­ing deci­sions. Con­sumers are read­ing labels select­ing their foods more holis­ti­cal­ly based on all the “food fac­tors” includ­ing taste, ingre­di­ents, source and nutri­tion­al com­po­si­tion, as well as who is mak­ing their food along with an under­stand­ing of impact on  the envi­ron­ment.

THE ECONOMY — NEW PROTEINS:  The U.S. Depart­ment of Agri­cul­ture esti­mates the cost of both beef and chick­en will increase by at least 5% due to the 2012 drought and declin­ing sup­ply. A major shift is antic­i­pat­ed in the nation’s pro­tein food sup­ply away from meat-based pro­teins and shift­ing to meat­less pro­teins like eggs, nut but­ters, tofu, beans, legumes, with an increase in aware­ness and con­sump­tion of veg­e­tar­i­an and veg­an meals.

SUSTAINABILITY — WE STOP WASTING FOOD:  The Nation­al Resource Defense Coun­cil esti­mates 40% of food goes uneat­en each month in the Unit­ed States. Not sur­pris­ing­ly, the Eco Pulse Sur­vey from the Shel­ton Group reports 39% of Amer­i­cans feel the most “green guilt” for wast­ing food, almost dou­ble the num­ber who feel guilty about not recy­cling.

BOOMERS — REALITY OF HEALTH CONCERNS:  Stud­ies by the NPD Group show that nutri­tion and healthy eat­ing habits are top meal-planning pri­or­i­ties for Baby Boomers. A recent study by ConA­gra Foods found that eat­ing canned toma­toes pro­vides the great­est source of antiox­i­dants to Amer­i­cans’ diets — more than any oth­er non-starchy veg­etable. Peo­ple who tend to eat low-fat diets rich in fruits and veg­eta­bles tend to have a decreased risk of can­cer and heart dis­ease. Boomers will focus on their intake of antiox­i­dants as they con­tin­ue their search for the foun­tain of youth. Boomers will con­trol more than half the dol­lars spent on gro­cery foods by 2015, look for more heart-healthy antioxidant-rich foods includ­ing oily fish such as salmon, as well as green tea, sweet pota­toes, dark leafy greens, pop­corn, berries and whole grains to take over super­mar­ket shelves.

[Source:  Lem­pert, Phil.  "The Top 10 Food Trend Pre­dic­tions for 2013."  3 Dec. 2012.  Web.  19 Dec. 2012.]