The trends exhibited indicate that, despite the recession, innovation in technology has played a major role in the food industry. Convenience food seems to be popular but innovation is the key to success of any new or existing product.
Consumer trends suggest that people are asking for more choices in food, with less ingredients but better taste and quality.
Innovation in portion sizes and packaging were main themes for meeting convenience and quality demands while probiotics continue to gain in popularity for health conscious consumers. Developments in regional fusion, which combine new and exotic tastes and textures and meet consumers’ demand for a higher level of sophistication in foods, were evident at the conference.
Despite the economic tough times, consumers still want a convenient, quick, fresh, healthy, tasty and sophisticated food experience; they just want it at a lower price. Consumer demand includes ease in purchasing, cleaning and preparation, good nutritional value, flavor and food value. They want food which can be prepared quickly but do not want to compromise on quality. They are looking for fresh foods that provide health benefits, as they equate “fresh” to better quality, taste and nutrition. Therefore, they are diverting more towards fresh fruit and vegetables by shopping at fresh, local produce markets in or near their neighborhoods.
The recession has also led to the trend toward more in-home entertaining, brown bag lunches (for example: peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, turkey and cheese sandwiches) and cooking restaurant style foods at home. Moreover, dried beans, rice, pasta and white flour are also hot items as more Americans are now making foods from scratch.
Consumers continue to seek multiple ways to enhance their health to prevent diseases, and to promote healthy aging by paying more attention to what they are eating and how it benefits their health. Today consumers are more concerned about their weight, cardio-health, digestive-health and immunity than ever before. Since health is a major concern of consumers, manufacturers are finding new ways to incorporate natural and innovative ingredients into food products for health benefits. As a result probiotics, prebiotics and functional foods are flooding the market.
As familiarity continues to grow the variety of ethnic cuisines and exotic drinks such as Asian and Mediterranean, and the regional fusion in foods markets continues to expand onto the shelves of grocers. A variety of regional foods offer a wide range of tastes and flavors that are authentic and unique. Hence, there are regional trends emerging in consumer behavior which has led to a broader acceptance.