Food Trends: Now and Future

Health Writer

Food Technology magazine's contributing editor, A. Elizabeth Sloan compiled an interesting food trend list for 2013 that showcases some new consumer trends and predicts some interesting future food trends.   Stone Hear     th News covered the article, which was reported by Newswise.

Trend #1 Repositioned Palate

Consumers used to mostly focus on sustenance that should mostly taste good.   Now the trend appears to be savoring foods and according to the trend's report, one in ten shoppers selects high end cut meats to create a restaurant grade dish at home.   Consumers also seem to be gravitating to flavors in the tangy, smoky, herbal, sour, bitter flavors, nearly doubling the purchase of seasonings in this category in the past 3 years.   Consumers want freshness and also seem to value distinctive flavors.

My comment - Marinated vegetables, pickle relish, fresh herbs, flavored vinegars, mustards and pureed fruits can all add flavor without adding lots of calories.

Trend #2 Redefining Health

According to the article, if you poll people, then words like fresh in both the retail food sector and at restaurants, prompts people to purchase an item or dish.   It is a word associated with eating healthier.   Consumers also gravitate to food items, or restaurant dishes with labels like: house-made, home-made, authentic, artisanal, seasonal, real, made from scratch, and not frozen.   Other words that seem to attract shoppers: farm-raised, organic, grass fed, free-range, cage-free, and again, it's because they seem to convey healthful living.

My comment: I'm not sure that all these terms necessarily mean healthy per se, and I always get concerned that when consumers put a health halo on a food, they assume they can eat it "endlessly, without portion control."   You can't and shouldn't.   Consumers underestimate frozen foods which are often captured at peak ripeness, available year round and affordable.

**Trend #3 Generational Cooking      **

Food  manufacturers are responding to consumers' desire to cook more and eat more at-home meals, by creating meal products that are already pre-cooked or semi-cooked - since many people have never learned   adequate cooking skills to pull off preparing a meal.   For those who have minimal cooking skills, sauces and cooking packs that offer ingredients that just require the addition of meat, fish, beans or another type of protein can allow home food preparation with fabulous results.

My comment - When cooking occurs in the home, you control ingredients and portions, allowing for a mostly healthier eating experience.   Using fresh ingredients that get measured also means you are more aware of what you are eating.   Home cooking allows you to limit fats, salt and sugar.

Trend #4 Eating Alone

Ms. Sloan quotes a Hartman 2011 survey that concluded that adults who eat alone tend to gravitate to choices like fresh or refrigerated meals, rather than frozen dinners.   There has been a jump in the number of adults who eat by themselves, and kids also rank heavily in the group that eats alone category.   So that will likely prod food manufacturers to consider investing in R & D that yields these type of ready-made meals.   The editor also notes that more people are grabbing breakfast at home, rather than spend the money on fast food or coffee house food.   That means that easy-to-make-oatmeal, yogurt parfaits and other tasty, fresh foods could become new supermarket standards.

My comment - If you need to buy almost ready food, that's fine.   But most adults would be surprised to find that seasoning and roasting chicken, preparing brown rice, steaming veggies with some fresh herbs in the water, making a simple red sauce and pasta, baking fish and veggies is not that hard.   Online recipes and cookbooks can take the mystery out of simple, tasty cooking.   And adults who are single can opt to prepare several servings and then flash freeze them.   Kids and teens who learn to cook early in life, are more likely to try new foods, eat healthier foods and have healthier body weights.

(Sources: Newswise, Stone Hearth News, Food Technology magazine, April 2013)

Next up: Some more food trends

Amy Hendel is a health professional, journalist and host of Food Rescue, Simple Smoothies and What's for Lunch?    Author of Fat Families, Thin Families and** The 4 Habits of Healthy Families**, she tweets health headlines daily @HealthGal1103.   Catch her guest appearances on Marie on Hallmark and other local and national news and talk shows.

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