Top Ten Food Trends 2013 (Trends #1 - 5)

December 05, 2012

Last year we predicted how weather conditions around the globe would affect crop yields and impact food production and prices; little did we know just how big that impact would be. With Millenials leading in passion for food but having less money to spend amidst high food prices, all is not doom and gloom. Here are the first five predictions in food trends for 2013.

Last year we predicted how weather conditions around the globe would affect crop yields and impact food production and prices; little did we know just how big that impact would be. 2012 brought us the worst drought in 50 years and created havoc on over 60% of all farmland here in the United States. There is little doubt that, just as the USDA has predicted, food prices will continue to rise for many years to come. The average American spends less than nine percent of their income on food, which is the lowest percentage of citizens of any other country, and less than Americans spent back in 1982 (13 percent). Yet even modest food price increases will affect many.

The passionate interest in foods being led by the Millenials will continue; led by their desire to understand food heritage, where foods come from, food preparation and how food is served; but with a twist. Millenials are deal seekers: over 86% seek the lowest everyday prices for foods. Almost one-third of Millenials (50+ million people born between 1978 and 1994) have difficulty affording their weekly groceries as compared to 22% of the general population. Millenials are the most ethnically diverse generation in our nation’s history – approximately 19 percent are Latino, 13 percent are black, four percent are Asian. one in five have an immigrant parent and one in 10 have a parent who is not a U.S. citizen. Clearly they are the foundation for the rise and desire for ethnic and more flavorful foods. This generation will be the most educated with 63% predicted to have or expect to graduate college by the year 2016, however, many report low paying or no jobs and a quarter of them have moved back home with their parents.

Food prices will also have an enormous impact on America’s “middle class” (defined as households with incomes from $38,000 to $118,000 per year) that has shrunk from 61 percent of the population in 1971 to 51 percent in 2011; and has seen their net worth plummet almost 40% to $77,300 from 2007 to 2010. As of August 2012, over 45 million Americans were enrolled in USDA’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP or food stamps) and receive monthly benefits.

All is not doom and gloom however, as we have experienced a comeback in supermarket services. More retailers are investing in loyalty programs and apps that reward their best shoppers with personalized discounts, on-site dietitians, in-store pubs and dining, and are generally sprucing up the retail environment. We can also expect more retail consolidation as the traditional supermarket struggles and shoppers expand their food shopping to alternative sources including drug chains, dollar stores and discounters. Supermarkets lost a full 15% share of volume to these and other competitors since the year 2000, sounding an alarm bell and wake up call to the industry that it is time to focus on a deeper understanding of what shoppers want.

Elementary school students returned to school this fall to find more healthy choices in the lunch line and with it comes a re-education and empowerment for a new generation designed to have these students not only eat healthier while at school, but also understand why eating this way is so important. School meals must meet new federal nutrition standards requiring more whole grains, fresh fruits, vegetables, reduced sodium, reduced calories, imposing strict limits on saturated and trans fats, less sodium, less calories and with fat free or 1% milk.  The hope is that these modified behaviors translate to eating at home and to all family members.  

Trend #1
Sustainability: We Stop Wasting Food

The National Resource Defense Council estimates that about 40 percent of all food here in the United States goes uneaten – that’s about $165 billion wasted each year; and costs the average family of four between $1,350 and $2,275 a year. To paint an even better picture, that's about 20 pounds of food wasted per person each month. As we have seen America’s waistlines grow, so has the amount of food we waste. In fact, NRDC estimates we discard 50% more food than we did back in the 1970s.

The just-released Eco Pulse Survey from the Shelton Group reports that 39% of Americans feels “the most green guilt” for wasting food (that's almost double the number who feel guilty about non-recycling or forgetting to bring their own bags to the store). Now comes the time to educate and empower supermarkets, food companies and consumers to think about this problem and to change our behaviors.

In the UK, where a public awareness program called “Love Food Hate Waste” began five years ago, over 50 of the country’s leading food retailers and CPG brands have committed to reduce waste in operations and supply chain. In 2012 the European Parliament passed a resolution to reduce food waste by half by the year 2020.

McKinsey Consulting recently reported that one action that could help reduce waste would be the standardization and clarification of expiration dates on foods. One waste reduction organization estimates that just this one “fix” could prevent up to 20 percent of food waste at home.

Trend #2
Health & Wellness: Snacking & Mini-Meals Take the Spotlight and We Discover the Correct Portion Size

Snacking may be associated with a more nutrient dense diet, according to researchers at Auburn University and Beijing University. The study, published in the February 2012 issue of the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, found that total fruit, whole fruit, whole grains, oils, sodium, and milk scores were all positively associated with snacking frequency. Few studies have examined the role of snacking on overall diet quality, and previous literature has only focused on the contribution of snacking to daily intakes of single nutrients. Snacking has gotten a bad rap, and that is about to change. This study is the first to look at how snacking contributes to the overall quality of individual’s diets. In this study, snacking was not associated with poorer overall diet quality, and did contribute to a slightly more nutrient-dense diet. The study reported that "A key finding is that ‘people who eat snacks have healthier diets.” The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition reported research that followed 30 thousand men over a sixteen-year period and found that those who ate just two meals a day had a higher risk of Type 2 diabetes.

We predict that 2013 will see a smaller bites/more frequent eating pattern that reduces overall portion sizes and increases variety. Led by the ubiquitous Millenials, who crave flexible menus with many choices of appetizers and small plates, look for snacking occasions to increase throughout the day. Currently just over half of Americans snack 2 to 3 times a day; as work schedules become more hectic and more flexible these mini-meals will increase across all generations. In addition, Hispanics, the fastest growing population and is projected to account for 30.2% of the total U.S. population by the year 2050, are more likely than non-Hispanics to incorporate snacks throughout the day—by a 23% to 15% margin.  They are also likelier to consume snacks while at work.

According to the NPD Group, morning snacking has “shown the greatest growth of any eating occasion over the past decade.” Morning snacks have increased by an average of 22 snacks per person in that period. More frequent snacking may also reinforce the need to reduce the size of portions at all mealtimes, as those hunger craving

Trend #3
Health & Wellness: The Boomer Reality of Diabetes, High Blood Pressure & Heart Disease

Building on our 2012 prediction of the importance of the Boomer population who will control just over half the dollars spent on grocery foods in 2015 ($706 million each year), serving the food needs of this generation will take new approaches; especially keeping these consumers who seek quality products, are brand loyal and not particularly price-sensitive healthier longer.  

According to Packaged Facts “When they eat, they’re looking for balance, and they understand the concept of forgoing one thing in order to enjoy something else….Authority avoiders since the ‘60s and ‘70s, today’s Boomers want to…eat what they want and how much they want, when and where they want it.”

Research from Canada and the United States—nations where many Boomers have similar lifestyles and life issues—reflect deliberate thinking about how they eat. Studies by NPD Group in both countries show that nutrition and healthy eating habits are top priorities for the     Boomers, who are more concerned than any other age group about nutrition when planning a meal. 72% of Canadians age 65+ regard nutrition as important as taste.  Double the amount of Boomers follow the countries’ “food guidelines” double that of those aged 18-34 years. In the United States seven out of ten Boomers seek more fiber, 60% try to consume less fat and cholesterol, and 40% aim to eat fewer fried foods and for good reason.  

According to data from the 2011 National Diabetes Fact Sheet (American Diabetes Association), 25.8 million children and adults in the United States have diabetes (8.3% of the total population) with an estimated annual cost of $18 billion. A SupermarketGuru quick poll found that seventy-four percent of this food-involved panel has diabetes or lives with someone who does and almost half want to make sure people around them can recognize the symptoms of low blood sugar and help prevent emergencies.  High blood glucose levels can cause permanent damage to heart, eye, kidney, nerve and other tissue – all risks with type 2 diabetes. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimate that a staggering 79 million Americans over the age of 20 have prediabetes, which can double the risk for cardiovascular disease.

The CDC also reports that about every 25 seconds an American will have a coronary event, the most common is a heart attack. In 2010, an estimated 785,000 Americans had a new coronary attack, and about 470,000 had a recurrent attack with the American Heart Association projecting that by the year 2030 this costs of this disease will rise to $389 billion per year.  The risk can be greatly reduced by taking steps to controlling diet and exercise.

Another report from the CDC found that one-third of adults have high blood pressure, a third of them untreated, and half do not have it fully under control.  High blood pressure (or hypertension) is known as the silent killer because it has virtually no symptoms, but increases the risk for coronary artery disease and stroke and is linked to a decline in cognitive function in otherwise healthy adults, starting in their late teens!  

Look for heart healthy antioxidant rich foods including tomatoes, oily fish (such as salmon and sardines), green tea, carrots, sweet potatoes, dark leafy greens, alfalfa sprouts, cocoa (dark chocolate), soybean and safflower oil, seeds, popcorn, berries, apples, and whole-grains to take over the supermarket shelves; along with sodium reduced and potassium rich reformulations in many foods. Potassium and sodium are electrolytes, which controls cellular communication through our bodies and maintains health.

Trend #4
The Economy: The New Proteins

Proteins are part of every cell, tissue, and organ in our bodies; and are constantly being broken down and replaced. Protein accounts for 20 percent of our body weight, performing a wide variety of functions throughout the body as vital components of body tissues, enzymes, and immune cells. Protein is made up of amino acids that are later used for tissue repair and maintenance in the body. There are twenty different amino acids that join together to make the different proteins; some are made in the body, others are not. The amino acids that cannot be made by the body are called essential amino acids; it is essential that our diet provide these. The desire for and interest in protein is hot and it is about body composition, sports, satiety and maintaining muscle mass as you get older. Complete proteins are those that provide all of the essential amino acids. Animal-based foods for example, meat, poultry, fish, milk, eggs, and cheese are considered complete protein sources. Incomplete proteins on the other hand, are those that are low in one or more of the essential amino acids, i.e. rice, beans, legumes, etc. Complementary proteins are two or more incomplete protein sources that together provide adequate amounts of all the essential amino acids; an example includes tofu and brown rice or rice and beans.

As food prices for protein commodities increase dramatically (it is conservatively estimated by the USDA the cost of both beef and chicken will increase by at least 5 percent due to the 2012 drought as well as declining supplies) look for a major shift in the nation's protein food supply by moving away from meat-based proteins. In our Supermarket Guru Consumer Panel Survey on grilling (which was conducted pre-pink slime headlines), more than 40 percent of the panel said the next big trend in grilling would be "meatless grilling"

As the culture of our population shifts to a more diverse ethnic mix, this trend is once again being fueled by Millenials of all ethnic backgrounds, who during their college years aligned themselves with the “less-meat to meatless spectrum” according to Packaged Facts’ How Gen Y Eats; and changed their diets to include low cost/high protein options like peanut and other nut butters and preparing just about every recipe with the versatile chickpea. We can expect to see popular protein influences from around the world becoming mainstream including Greek yogurt, Asian cuisines, Indian cuisines including those foods for breakfast including Adai and Pesarattu as well as tofu based burgers and other convenience foods.

Trend #5
Lifestyle: Breakfast Becomes The Most Important Meal of the Day

The benefits of breakfast are becoming hard to dispute, study after study show that breakfast is be the most important meal of the day!! The benefits of breakfast range from kids doing better in school and having less behavioral issues, to maintaining a more normal weight, more energy, better mood, and even improved memory. Will the costs of foods on the rise, many have taken typical protein rich breakfast foods into other day parts including lunch and dinner as a way to save money and maintain their healthy eating. Packaged Facts reports that Baby Boomers in particular want all food and experiences customizable and have extended food day parts, in particular that of all-day breakfast.

The latest study, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, found that men who skipped breakfast more often had a 20 percent higher risk of Type 2 diabetes than those who consumed breakfast. The increased risk remained even after the researchers accounted for body mass index and the quality of the subjects’ breakfasts.

Keeping blood sugar stable is key to optimal wellness. Starting off the day with a solid breakfast is key. Some great choices include yogurt with granola or cereal, a veggie omelet with whole grain bread, a yogurt based fresh or frozen fruit smoothie along side eggs. Nut and seed butters like almond, peanut, and sunflower are not only protein rich, but rich in essential minerals as well; slice banana or strawberries on top. Nut and seed butters are extremely versatile and can even be mixed in with oatmeal to increase the nutrition content of this already nutritious breakfast choice.