Trend Alert: Top 10 Trends Reshaping the Food Industry in 2011

I’m back again with more trends.  This time the forecasting is from A. Elizabeth Sloan’s article in the April issue of Food Technology, the publication of the Institute of Food Technologists. Here’s a summary of the top 10 food trends that Elizabeth predicts will shape the food industry in 2011 and beyond.  Check out the original article Top 10 Food Trends for more details and the references.

1. Demographically Directed

activiaLook for food companies to target flavors, foods and messages to different generations — from Baby Boomers to Gen-Yers.  The younger set remains the most interested in gourmet, ethnic and spicy foods — and is more likely to explore healthy and performance-based eating.  They’re the main drivers of fresh, all-natural, organic and naturally fortified foods.

2. Still Cooking


photo credit:  FacingNorthEast on flickr

Home cooking is on an upswing — approaching a 20-year high.  And today’s meal preparers are looking to put something different on the table for dinner every night in contrast to the family meal repertoire of just 7-9 dishes a few years ago.  Frozen ingredients have become strong meal preparation aids — with frozen chicken, fish, shellfish and vegetables among the top-selling meal components.

3. The Appeal of Americana

Applebees realburgers

photo credit:  Applebee’s

Local and farm-raised foods and American regional cuisines will be among the most promising food industry trends over the next decade.  Southern, American seaboard and American barbecue are the leading American cuisines on restaurant menus.  American spicy/hot, American barbecue, Pacific Northwest fare, and Southwestern are the fastest growing.

4. Foodie Focused


America’s 31 million foodies are blurring the aisles between specialty and every day foods.  Regional ethnic tops the list of ethnic cuisines/flavors that will be trendy in 2011.  That’s followed by ethnic fusion, Southeast Asian, Peruvian and Latino American/Nuevo Latino. Because Americans want to enjoy restaurant-style foods at home, one of the most successful strategies continue to be co-branding with restaurants, such as the spin-off of Cinnabon foods.

5. Get Real

3467745175_342bd3a8a6_zphoto credit: MGH on flickr

Limiting processed foods is now believed to be one of the most important parts of healthy eating — and “chemicals in food” rose as a food safety concern (while foodborne illness went down as a worry).  Natural claims now have greater appeal than organic.  Marketers of processed foods are increasingly touting “fresh,” “hand-picked” and “fresh from the field” ingredients in products.

6. The New Nutrients

3171050531_d73d0a74ebNatural functionality and inherent nutrition are beginning to shift interest away from traditionally fortified foods.  Protein is among the “new nutrient” superstars, along with potassium and magnesium (especially as interest in reducing sodium soars).  Whole grains topped the list of the most sought after health claims on packages, followed closely by high fiber.  For the first time, whole wheat bread out sold white bread.

7. Specialty Treats

5513107159_3228fc88fa_zphoto credit:  marybarbour on flickr

Despite the growing interest in eating healthy, home cooks still serve dessert twice weekly on average.  With empty nesters and seniors most likely to eat dessert, retro flavors are making a comeback:  caramel, butterscotch, malt, chocolate mousse and lemon chiffon pie.  Sugar-free and gluten-free are big trends in baking mixes.

8. Three Squares

3923823499_0e311a6fbe_zphoto credit:  banh mi by paghababian on flickr

We’re more likely to eat 3 meals a day — with or without snacks — compared to two years ago.  Fewer people say they eat only 1 or 2 meals a day plus snacks.  Breakfast is the big beneficiary. Although most breakfasts (74%) are eating at home.  Sales of breakfast foods are up.  Sandwiches are also on trend, especially ethnic and mini-sandwiches, such as Vietnamese banh mi, Mexican bolillos, bocadillos, pupusas, torta and tartines.

9. Prescription Eating

4147994751_4bf9c72f41_zOne-third (33%) of consumers plan on self-treating more and going to the doctor less.  Weight control and cholesterol lowering lead the list of the most desired functional food benefits, followed by digestion, immunity, enhanced metabolism, blood pressure lowering, satiety, healthy blood sugar levels, and memory.

10. Home Rituals

3389344901_55fe41867c_zphoto credit:  Pillsbury on flickr

Home entertaining has become a new way of life; 67% of consumers are spending more time at home with their family, and 44% entertained family and friends at home instead of going out. Supermarkets are experiencing growth in ready-to-eat takeout and heat-and-eat meals.  Gourmet snacks for entertaining, specialty food and appliance cooking are growing.

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