Top Food Trends: What's 'In' Right Now
Convenience, Health, Global Influences Are Hot, Says Food Industry Group
April 14, 2005 -- Got a taste for gourmet food but little time to make it?
Looking for healthier items at the grocery store, or cruising through the
take-out lane ... again?
The Institute for Food Technology (IFT) isn't surprised. Those patterns are
on its list of top 10 food trends. The IFT is a nonprofit group of
professionals in food science, food technology, and related fields.
Influences on food trends include baby boomers becoming "empty
nesters" with more time to cook, waning interest in low-carb extremism,
increasing attention to foods' health effects, and a craving for upscale
Here's a look at the complete list of trends, published in April's issue of
Food Technology, the IFT's magazine:
Quick fix. Expect to see more ready-to-eat or easy-use
food products, such as salad mixes, sauces, prepackaged dinners, and pie
crusts. That reflects a desire for home cooking with a little less
"Nearly half of U.S. consumers say they plan to cook more meals at home
from scratch, 29% say they plan to eat more freshly prepared meals that just
need to be heated, and 25% say they plan to cook more meals at home using
prepared ingredients," says the magazine.
Drive-and-go. More people are getting take-out food from
full-service restaurants. Healthier, more upscale items at fast-food
restaurants are also attracting "once-reluctant consumers," says the
Inherently healthy. Fruits, vegetables, salads, grains,
nuts, and yogurt are part of a trend toward naturally good-for-you foods.
Fancy. The premium food market is expected to grow by 30%
to $94 billion in 2008, says the article. Gourmet tuna, cheeses, teas,
wine-flavored crackers, and cocktail products are in that category.
Farm-friendly. Buzzwords include "organic,"
"homestead," and "farmstead." U.S. organic food sales were up
18% in 2004, says the report. Fair trade is becoming important to consumers
buying coffee, with chocolate and tea expected to follow.
Layered flavors. Bland is out, flavored is in. Look for
pairings (like fruity and tangy combinations), exotic fruit flavors, Asian
influences, aged vinegars, savory spicing, and traditional baking flavors
(vanilla, ginger, cinnamon).
With more people interested in eating fish, expect to see fish-oriented spice
mixes. Lighter Asian flavors are also important (like fish-, oyster- and plum
sauces), along with Latin flavors. Wasabi, the fiery Asian paste, is on its way
out, says the article.
Grazing. Smaller nibbles of higher-quality treats are in,
says the magazine. Products without trans fats are also gaining ground; so are
energy drinks. New flavored waters and even flavored ice are expected,
Low-, no-, and reduced-. Move over, low-carb. "Low
fat" has regained the title of "most influential food label claim,"
says the magazine. By the way, "whole grain" is in second place.
Do-it-yourself doctoring. More foods are touting their
health benefits. Fiber, grains, calcium, and cholesterol are some key features
food makers are highlighting. A wine company has also asked the government to
let it promote antioxidants in its wines.
Global gangbusters. Many U.S. food trends are also going
strong overseas, and some new trends may show up in America, says the article.
For instance, take-out food is big in Southeast Asia (mostly from local
vendors), and pouches are becoming popular for food packaging in Europe.