These past several months I spent much of my time compiling and writing the 32nd Eating Patterns in America (EPA) report. It’s my second year authoring EPA and my third year traveling the country to share the insights gained from this report. Although I have a long way to go to top my predecessor’s longevity in writing the report (29 years), I'm enjoying bringing my own perspective into our rich, ongoing food and foodservice research. But I find that where my perspective on the data intersects with our clients’ real life experience is where real learning happens.
It’s my privilege to travel around the country meeting with and presenting EPA to our clients, and a luxury to hear firsthand what’s on their minds. They deal daily with the realities of changing consumer attitudes, behaviors, and demographics, an evolving marketplace with ongoing channel and digital disruptions; and increasing competition for consumer mindshare and dollars. As a result of our conversations together, this year’s EPA addresses many of these new realities.
There are four new realities in particular that are a focus of our view on the state of the consumer: The New Retail, The New Convenience, The New Restaurant, and The New Health and Wellness. These topics best represent the areas where there has been the most change or evolution. So this year, in addition to the long-term trends on consumption of foods and beverages, visits to restaurants, cooking methods, and attitudes on nutrition and diet, we also included our perspective of emerging trends facing the food and foodservice industries. We explore the challenges of a low growth macro environment that is also enduring significant digital disruption, evaluate the long-term implications of demographic change, examine new consumer attitudes about time spent at home, expand our view into the changing restaurant landscape, and more.
The contributions of our client partners brings to mind an ancient proverb that is a personal favorite of mine: As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another. I look forward to sharing my perspective on new realities with food and foodservice executives this year so that together we may sharpen our vision for finding growth in this challenging consumer landscape.