What can we expect for food and beverage brands in 2015? Supermarket Guru Phil Lempert says the growth of online grocery shopping and a preference toward craft foods, fermented foods (think aged, cured or pickled foods like sauerkraut) and smoked flavors rank among the top of the list.
Lempert, working closely with ConAgra Foods, predicts the most significant changes next year will stem from a desire for bold-flavored foods that also offer health benefits. He also sees shifts in approach to supermarket shopping – both online and at brick-and-mortar stores. Other trends highlight new eating behaviors among Generation Z (those born after 1995) and Boomers, as well as new technologies that improve the ease of reading and understanding of nutrition labels.
"The top food trends for 2015 indicate people’s palates are continuing to evolve and they are gravitating toward streamlined grocery shopping experiences that are convenient for their lifestyles," says Lempert. "In 2015, look for brands and merchants to advance their product offerings and shopping amenities to meet these demands."
Lempert's top food trends for 2015 include:
1. Grazing Golden-Agers: Ninety-one percent of people say they snack daily, according to Nielsen, the market researcher. While snacking is on the rise among all ages and genders, new studies show that snacking among consumers over the age of 65 could contribute to additional years with a higher quality of life. We'll see more boomers – those raised in the "three square meals a day" era – employ a "grazing" approach to eating next year.
When boomers snack, they'll focus on foods rich in nutrients like protein, fiber and Omega3s that can help promote bone health. Other popular snack choices include plant-based proteins and whole grains, like DAVID Sunflowers Seeds and Orville Redenbacher's Gourmet Naturals made with 100% whole grain popcorn.
2. Same-Day Delivery Not Just for City Clickers: Grocery Shopping Goes 24/7: Online grocery shopping and delivery has become a crowded space, with a host of services competing for consumer attention. This trend allows everyone who sells food and beverages to be in the same-day delivery business without having to add additional operational infrastructure.
Once considered a luxury for those living in metropolitan areas, revenue gains among food and beverage e-commerce/delivery service indicate the trend will expand to mainstream consumers living in both urban and rural areas next year. Previously, major e-commerce players like Amazon would only deliver non-perishable items. Now Peapod, Fresh Direct, Amazon Fresh and Instacart make it possible to have perishables like Healthy Choice Café Steamers delivered to your door in less than two hours. With this in mind, products will evolve and become catered to online shoppers. More brands will bundle multiple SKUs to create meal kits or offer pre-packaged sets of multiple products.
3. Everything Smoked: Just when you thought the bacon trend had cooled off, restaurateurs and at-home cooks are continuing to turn up the heat. The demand for smoked foods has risen as chefs begin to apply smoking and grilling to add some sizzle and impart new flavor to other proteins and alternatives like vegetables, butters, and even cocktails. And, with smokers gaining in popularity in backyards across America, at-home cooks are also experimenting with smoking non-traditional foods.
The increase in smoked foods is sparking an increase in enjoying that smoky flavor year-round. For example, tomatoes are one of the most popular non-meat items, and that fresh-from-the-grill smoked flavor can now be found in Hunt's Fire Roasted Diced Tomatoes. In 2015, look for even more smoked flavors to emerge into your favorite foods found in the grocery aisles, menus and recipes.
4. The Rise of Fermented Foods: 2015 will be the year fermented foods – foods like yogurt, tempeh and sauerkraut take center stage. These foods contain live cultures, or are preserved in liquid so their sugars and starches can become bacteria-boosting agents. After multi-year growth of gluten-free foods and probiotics, many consumers have found their digestive health improved. In fact, a survey from ConAgra Foods found that nearly 50 percent of Americans have changed their diet to help improve digestion, with nearly 20 percent doing so in the past year.1
In 2014, we saw an expansion of gluten-free beyond the one percent of the population that has Celiac Disease. This will continue but also evolve into an increased focus on the consumption of fermented foods as people continue to look for ways to aid digestion. Increased knowledge about the impact foods have on our digestive health will lead to significant changes in the way consumers prepare food in 2015. Once toppings or side items, fermented foods will become commonplace in meals throughout the day.
5. Gen Z: Chefs Everyday: Millennials' passion for food-related adventures is undeniable, but Gen Z, the demographic group born after Millennials (1995 to present day), brings an entire new set of food values to the kitchen table. Exposed at a young age to more flavors and variety than previous generations, Gen Z's collective attitude toward food is simplicity and health. They tend to use stove tops rather than microwaves for cooking meals and fresh ingredients to prepared foods. Research by NPD Group indicates some of their favorite foods to cook include eggs/omelets, hot dogs, potatoes and chicken which they can "dress up" with their own unique touch.
In 2015, look for even more brands to offer simple ideas to elevate everyday foods. For example, breakfast goes up a notch when replacing basic eggs with frittatas and quiche made with EggBeaters and fresh herbs and produce.
6. Craft Foods Make Their Way into Kitchens Everywhere: Typically associated with foods made in small batches with specialized, local ingredients, major companies are finding ways to produce craft foods in larger quantities. The phenomenon of craft beer brought new excitement, flavors and sales to the struggling beer industry: MillerCoors and Anheuser-Busch InBev are two examples of major companies that have made the jump to more locally produced, limited distribution and sub-brands.
In 2015, look for this trend to extend to other beverages and food, as Millennials in particular continue to seek unique tastes and foods with authentic origin stories. Marie Callender's Razzleberry Pie, made with whole Oregon Marionberries and North American red raspberries, is an example of a food that looks and tastes homemade but is found in freezer aisles nationwide.
7. Nutrition Labels: No Longer Just on Packaged Foods: As consumers want more information about their foods, innovative devices like Prep Pad will soon offer this information instantaneously. The Prep Pad pairs with an iPad app to calculate the exact nutritional content of your meals, including the carbs, fats, protein and calories by scanning the bar code of food packages used as ingredients or the items on your plate. Information about a food's ingredients, chemical makeup or nutritional values will become more readily available and commonplace in the supermarket and our kitchens.
8. Supermarkets Convert into Socializing Spaces: Supermarkets have evolved from straightforward centers where consumers could buy groceries to purveyors of lifestyle. Present day supermarkets are developing a variety of services that help set them apart and establish each outlet as an ambassador of niche lifestyle trends. In the near future, we can expect supermarkets to further specialize in order to present their customers with a unique experience that showcases their personality and philosophy toward foods – instead of presenting themselves solely as vendors of goods.
A desire to be "all things food" to their customers, especially singles, is positioning them as head-to-head competitors with chain and local restaurants. Retailers today will build full-service high quality restaurants as part of their brick and mortar operations. Experienced culinarians, usually CIA trained chefs with many years of experience, are offering unique dishes, local foods and beverages. Cooking classes, events and seminars are giving consumers reasons beyond a grocery list to step inside their neighborhood store. Sampling is no longer a cracker or potato chip on a napkin; stores have advanced and now have chefs like George Duran cooking up Hunt's signature recipes for shoppers.
1The survey results quoted in this press release are taken from a survey conducted by ConAgra Foods using Google Consumer Surveys in October 2014. The survey was answered by more than 1,000 pre-screened randomly sampled internet users across the Google Consumer Surveys publisher network. The average margin of error is +/- 4%."