Top Food and Beverage Trends for 2009

If you’re a regular reader, then you know I’m a bit trend obsessed.  I love to track food trends and learn about new products.  I often write about the ways the recession impacts our eating habits and how marketers are leveraging various trends. Everyone has a different spin on what’s hot, and what trends have “stickiness” [or those that will be around for awhile].  Here’s a compilation of top food and beverage trends from ORC Guideline, a New York-based research company.mac-and-cheese-closeup

  • Looking for comfort.  The trend of comfort foods has gotten a lot of play lately.  These soothing foods (macaroni and cheese, meatloaf, spaghetti and meatballs, mashed potatoes) are also typically inexpensive to purchase and prepare.  So expect to see these items on more menus and a spike in sales of pasta, beans and chicken.  Breakfast is often considered to be the most comforting meal, so restaurants will respond by making it available throughout the day. 
  • Organic sales slow.  People’s priorities have changed because of economic hardships, so green living may no longer be top of mind for shoppers. Organic foods are being squeezed out of many budgets, although this deep freeze will likely thaw as the economy improves.
  • Keeping it local.  A National Restaurant Association survey of chefs identified locally grown produce as the top food trend.  Expect to see an increase in local farm names on menus, as restaurants attempt to convey the fresh, inherently good nature of their food.
  • Getting it from the garden. A convergence of factors including the economy, food safety, the local food movement and patriotism is driving the explosive growth in home vegetable gardens. Last year, vegetable seeds outsold flowers for the first time in recent memory and they are predicted to do the same again this year. 
  • I’m the chef.  More people will be cooking and eating at home to save money.  While some will stick to convenience foods, others will be motivated to increase their culinary expertise by visiting recipe web sites, watching TV cooking shows and taking cooking classes.   It’s predicted that this will be the year of the home cook. ethnic-food2
  • The ethnic experience. Even though consumers are expected to engage in less international travel, they’ll still have a taste for the exotic.  They will be enhancing their comfort foods with international elements such as bold spices and ethnic side dishes.  Mintel predicts that the hot flavors will be cactus, chimichurri, peri-peri, masala and lavender.
  • Green = savings.  Consumers are expected to cut back on their purchase of green products overall due to the extra expense involved, but they will still try to become more eco-conscious in the kitchen — largely motivated by the cost savings that “green” practices can generate, such as using energy-efficient appliances.

Click here to take a look at The Food Channel’s list of the top ten food trends for 2009.   At the beginning of the year, I wrote about the top nutrition trends for 2009 in the Chicago Tribune. Looking back, not sure how “sticky” some of the trends are really going to be at the end of the year.


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