Food is delicious and we are hooked. Multiple television networks run 24/7 food programming, countless movies are about food and social media is filled with food content. Searching #food on Instagram brings up more than 200 million pictures posted by users in the app.
As new generation of eaters begins to saturate the market, consumer food trends are changing. These trends become noticeable at a macro-level, and farmers need to be aware of them.
Read on to learn five new trends in consumer tastes that may have a big influence on your farm, what you distribute and how you reach consumers.
Food Trend #1: Plant Protein Rules
Americans are conditioned to see meat as the focal point of every meal and the primary source of protein in their diet. However, knowledge is growing about the viability of plant-based protein sources.
Replacing red meat with beans, nuts and seeds as a protein source helped participants of a 130K person JAMA Internal Medicine study live longer.
Food Trend #2: Fat is Good
Not all fats are great for consumers, but growing knowledge about fats incline health conscious buyers to consider some fats. Fish, vegetables, nuts and seeds are common sources of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, which have known advantages.
Trans fat is still considered unhealthy, but other fats that occur naturally in abundance are a necessary part of your diet.
The Food and Drug Administration has changed its view on fat, shifting its view from focusing on the amount of fat in food to the type of fat it contains. Watch for avocados, salmon and other sources of healthy fats to continue growing in consumption.
Food Trend #3: Hello Fancy Meats
Retail prices for most meats fell over the past year. Most chicken, pork and beef varieties took cuts from August 2016 to July 2017. But this trend isn’t all bad for meat producers. Consumers may be eating less meat, but their interest in paying a price for premium quality is on the rise.
For one, they are more willing to buy direct from farmers or from labels they know to be locally sourced in order to get higher quality, fresher and more sustainable meat.
Secondly, consumer tastes for new premium cuts topped the list of Top 20 food trends resulting from the National Restaurant Association’s (NRA) annual “What’s Hot” survey of chefs. These new cuts include shoulder tender, oyster steak, Vegas Strip Steak and Merlot cut.
Consumer interest in veggies for protein and monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats may be on the rise, but meat is far from being eliminated from consumer’s plates.
Food Trend #4: Say Goodbye to Waste
Studies show that 40% of food in the U.S. is wasted, while an eighth of Americans have trouble putting food on the table.
The public is becoming more focused and educated on sustainability. Documentaries, such as Wasted! The Story of Food Waste, are great examples of how this previously untold story is reaching people.
While this may appear to reduce produce and other perishable food sales, a key to eliminating waste is to shop for specific meals rather than a general grocery list. This will lead to consumers buying more perishable food, rather than purchasing foods that last forever.
Food Trend #5: Eating Local
Eliminating food waste relates to sustainability, and buying local gives consumers that same sense of pride in doing good. From 2015 to 2016, local purchasing increased 8 – 10%. Reasons for this increase include:
- Product freshness;
- Purchase satisfaction;
- Economic impact; and
Consider how your process can change to reach the customer directly. Are there opportunities to partner with local restaurants or retail establishments?
Stay on top of these and other food trends as they evolve to know how to position your agricultural activities. Seek out opportunities to innovate, and be prepared for the changing agricultural landscape.
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