Sometimes, conferences don’t just offer up the latest policy information. They also explain what’s cool.
That was the case when the Supermarket Guru Phil Lempert took the stage at the National Food Policy Conference in Washington last week to explain the top 10 current food trends. What Lempert has found is that Americans are growing more educated about the food they eat — and they desire healthier choices in the supermarket aisle.
Lempert’s No. 1 food trend is that food prices are on the rise. That has led Americans to make careful choices about the food they buy, he says. It’s also led to some other big trends, including what he calls “extreme home cooking,” (trend No. 8) meaning that Americans are eating more at home and making healthier dishes that will last (as opposed to just buying whatever is on sale in bulk, a la the TLC show).
Spending more time in the grocery store means that Americans also care more about where their food comes from, which has lead to the farm-to-fork movement (No. 3) a desire for fewer unhealthy additives in products, including sugar and sodium (No. 9) and even care about the sound their food makes when they prepare and eat it (No. 10).
A desire for fewer additives likely will create a host of new products developed by food manufacturers, which will be based on sound nutrition to provide flavor rather than just throwing in sugar or salt, Lempert notes.
“We will finally get our taste buds back,” Lempert says. “And I think we all win when that happens.”
Another interesting trend: More men are buying the groceries (No. 7). About 41 percent of meals are now prepared by men, meaning grocery stores must think outside the box to target a wide-range of customers. Lempert also joked this has led to another big trend: “The Wall Street Journal reported about a month ago that men who prepare food at home have more sex.”
No one is eating alone (No. 2). Food blogs are driving a lot of the food movement, on both the local and national level. Meanwhile, people often photograph their food and upload it to social network websites such as Facebook, sharing what they eat with friends around the globe.
End of the checkout lane (No. 5). Mobile checkout applications are revolutionizing the way Americans buy their food, and grocers have to redesign their stores to adjust.
An Ethnic Food Revolution (No. 6). Primarily driven by the rise in food trucks, Americans are eating more cuisine from around the world. Lempert calls the rise in ethnic food trucks “really a phenomenon” and says vendors are “brilliant entrepreneurs” who are transforming how food is marketed and sold.
Baby Boomers (No. 2). The Baby Boom generation remains a powerful force when it comes to the money spent on food, Lempert says.
Don't miss the rest of the Inside Track, including news about the U.S. Department of Agriculture's upcoming competitive foods guidelines and a Q&A with PreventObesity.net's first Leader from Wyoming.
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