New Expectations for a New Generation
Millennials have set a new precedent for better foods, engaging the whole culinary industry, and creating a competitive atmosphere for the best innovations. This wave has proven monumental success, with grocery stores now stocking nutritionally beneficial snacks and beverages, even having organic aisles/shelves, and fast food companies introducing ‘healthy choice’ options or vegan burgers. With these preferences steadily becoming commonplace, companies are looking to optimize the customer experience by implementing clean food labels, purging recipes of any preservatives, or further unnecessary ingredients on their menus. Furthermore, we are entering an era of ‘no-nonsense’ and a population with a higher expectation for their food that will more than likely continue its path rather than receding to the days of immortal canned goods.
Getting on Board the Health & Wellness Train
The wellness movement has dramatically impacted the culinary industry, asserting new expectations and standards. FMI’s 2019 U.S. Grocery Shopper Trends report finds a rising number of households (33%) have at least one member following a non-medically prescribed diet such as vegan, vegetarian, pescatarian, or flexitarian. Companies are starting to lean towards antibiotic and hormone-free meats to meet the demand for cleaner, more natural products; listening to the rising concerns of their customers, Publix started their Greenwise line, promising that they review and update their list of items annually, ensuring that the standards match the expectations. On the foodservice side, apparent food trends that have been gradually gaining traction are customizable salads and health bowls. The concept of health is a key selling point, avocado toast, hummus, gluten-free products, hard -seltzer, veggie noodles, and more. Large and small companies are taking the initiative to roll out menu items that are flexible and offer a myriad of substitutions that give their customers a more liberating selection. In 2019 Chipotle announced they would start offering a vegetarian and vegan bowl, McDonald’s U.K. division released their first vegan meal with the introduction of the new Veggie Dippers, which can also be used to substitute meat in burgers, and of course, the world-famous release of Burger Kings Impossible Whopper, with the patty made of plant-protein.
Diverse Menus for Diverse People
According to The Good Food Institute, the world of culinary is changing for the better and is only going to continue to grow, with the dollar sales of plant-based food that directly replace meat increased 29% from 2017 to 2019. Finding a selection of plant-based foods is becoming more readily available to consumers and manufacturers, with independent restaurants finding success with refined, entirely plant-based menus and chain restaurants expanding their offerings as well. There is a market for good food and well-being, and people realize that we can get the best of both; experimenting with new products is the best way to innovate and challenge a chef’s creativity and piquing the interest of the consumer.
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