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Food & Beverage Market Research & Business Solutions

No one knows more about how people eat than The NPD Group. For decades now, we’ve been the definitive source of information on food and beverage consumption, whether at home or away-from-home. Snacks-on-the-go? Lunch at the drive-thru? Dinner with the family? We track them all.

We monitor a wide range of critical food industry trends and track consumer behavior, attitudes, and usage motivators – from diet and nutrition to shopping habits and brand awareness.

The smartest companies in the food and beverage industry depend on our information, insights, and expertise to understand what consumers are actually eating and drinking. In addition to providing this unique information, we can combine our data with your information or third-party data to help you solve specific, difficult business issues.


Food and Beverage
Solutions


National Eating Trends

National Eating Trends® (NET®) monitors thousands of individuals’ eating habits each year to provide a complete view of food and beverage consumption in the U.S. This information goes far beyond supermarket scanner and purchase panel data to focus on consumers’ actual eating situations. For more than 30 years, NET has captured preparation and consumption situations for foods and beverages, reporting on who consumes particular food and beverage products, when and where they consume them, how they are consumed, and why.  This information can be used in research and new product development as well as in marketing mature brands.


SnackTrack

SnackTrack® is the go-to source for U.S. snack food consumption information. SnackTrack’s ongoing consumer data collection presents a complete picture of snack and convenience foods to help you understand critical trends in behavior, attitudes, and usage. It captures who, when, where, why, and how specific snack-oriented foods and brands are consumed, and examines situational and motivational dynamics that affect snack food consumption. Leading snack and convenience food manufacturers rely on SnackTrack to provide insight beyond conventional purchase databases.


Dieting Monitor

Examine the top-of-mind dieting and health issues facing consumers today. Dieting Monitor helps companies understand dieting patterns, perceptions of dieting and health, and the influence these factors have on consumers. It also reports on awareness of and participation in specific diets, including all of the programs consumers and the media talk about most.


Kitchen Audit

This inventory of American kitchens represents a key “ingredient” in recipe development. Since its inception in 1993, The NPD Group’s Kitchen Audit study has offered food and housewares manufacturers a comprehensive profile of the foods, beverages, appliances, cookware, utensils, and other cooking materials kept on hand in American home kitchens. It also identifies who uses recipes and where they source them from. This is critical information for understanding the complete picture for how cooking and meal planning is evolving.

This inventory of American kitchens represents a key “ingredient” in recipe development. Since its inception in 1993, The NPD Group’s Kitchen Audit study has offered food and housewares manufacturers a comprehensive profile of the foods, beverages, appliances, cookware, utensils, and other cooking materials kept on hand in American home kitchens. It also identifies who uses recipes and where they source them from. This is critical information for understanding the complete picture for how cooking and meal planning is evolving.


NET Hispanic Study

Explore eating habits of Hispanic consumers, both at home and away from home. The study reveals new details about the cooking, eating, and dining behaviors of Hispanics in the U.S. It also explores the many segments of the U.S. Hispanic population and their unique characteristics and needs that influence food behaviors, including detail on U.S. Hispanics by country of origin, acculturation, language, and first/second/third generations.



Food and Beverage
Reports


Whats Happening in Americas Kitchens

For more than 20 years, we've asked American consumers to provide details about what they have in their kitchens and how they prepare and cook their meals. Get new insights from our report, What's Happening in America's Kitchens, and learn what convenience means in the kitchen today, explore the emerging disruptors in the industry, and find out how we can expect food-related habits to change. Also, discover the outlook for the food and beverage and home industries and how you can maintain a competitive advantage and capture more consumer dollars next year.


Hispanic Food Culture in America

Inform innovation and targeting strategies by completing your view of U.S. eating habits with the fresh insights on how and what Hispanic consumers eat and drink both at home and away from home. The report gives you deep insight into the needs, behaviors, motivations, and desires of this growing population segment. Armed with this comprehensive report, you’ll find new ways to address the latest trends and strengthen your connection to Hispanic consumers, refine your targeting and messaging, and find new ways to appeal to this critical consumer group.


Future of Foodservice Snapshot Delivery – Report

Focusing on delivery is one way to stay competitive in today’s slow-growth foodservice market. We know delivery trends were strong in 2017, but what is the outlook for the future? This report provides new insight about foodservice customers and the potential growth opportunity for delivery The Delivery Overview section looks across QSR pizza, QSR beyond pizza, and FSR, revealing unique business dynamics, consumer profiles, digital delivery engagement, and third-party apps. The Delivery Outlook section provides a five-year cohort forecast for restaurant delivery, as well as a two-year outlook for delivery compared across QSR pizza, QSR beyond pizza, and FSR.


Make It Happen for Gen Z

With a new generation of food and beverage consumers coming of age, it's important to educate yourself about their needs and generational mindset. Our new report, Make It Happen for Gen Z, dives deep into the attitudes and behaviors of next-generation U.S. consumers — by young kids, kids aged 6 to 12, and teens into adulthood. It also examines the eating habits of Gen Z parents and how they choose to feed their kids. This report uncovers how food and beverage brands can create personal value for this generation by embodying four key attributes: authenticity, individuality, discovery, and fluidity.


Eating Patterns in America – Annual Report

In the food and beverage industry, foresight about the future of how people will eat and drink and deep insight about what they’re doing right now can make all the difference to your growth trajectory. This year’s report reveals new details about the ways consumers are changing their behaviors and expectations regarding convenience in the kitchen. Their renewed interest in fresh foods requires a new look at the time and effort they’re willing to commit to at-home meal prep. You can use the Annual Report on Eating Patterns in America to determine which emerging behavior patterns will help drive your business and identify new market opportunities.


Navigating GMOs for Success

With new labeling laws on the horizon, it’s critical to understand and address consumers’ concerns. Most consumers now say they are aware of genetically modified organisms (GMOs), and many of them tell us they aren’t comfortable buying and consuming foods that include them. Our new report, Navigating GMOs for Success, gives you new information and expert insight into this consumer mindset. It’s how to get the knowledge you need to improve product positioning and deliver effective marketing messages to respond to GMO-related concerns.



Food and Beverage
Press Releases


January 24, 2018

Unintentional Foodies, Gen Zs Expect Food Brands to Follow Their Needs, Rather Than the Other Way Around

Generation Z, those born 1997 to present, now represent 27 percent of the U.S. population, a larger group than Millennials, and although only older Gen Zs are entering adulthood, their impact on the food industry is already being felt, finds a new study by The NPD Group, a leading global information company. Gen Zs, many of whom were raised by Gen Xers, grew up understanding the purpose of food and how it fits into a well-lived life. As a result this generational cohort has set expectations that food and food brands will follow their needs and not the other way around.


December 13, 2017

“All I Want for Christmas is a Multi-cooker.”

Even before the holiday season began sales of multi-cookers were surging, and as of the 12 months ending November 2017, sales have increased 79 percent to more than $300 million,* reports The NPD Group, a leading global information company. A top performing category over Thanksgiving week, as well as the week prior, Instant Pot and other leading multi-cooker brands flew off the shelf over Black Friday weekend, and inventory was sold out or low but has since been replenished.


October 24, 2017

What’s Inside America’s Kitchens Today? The Appliances and Tools to Prepare Fresh Meals Conveniently.

U.S. consumers have a renewed interest in cooking freshly prepared meals but not in spending more time doing it, according to a recent kitchen audit conducted by The NPD Group, a leading global information company. While convenience has always been a chief consideration in America’s kitchens, the definition of convenience is constantly in flux, and now saving consumers time with their freshly prepared foods is essential. The move towards fresh or clean eating has had an impact on how kitchens are equipped and set up today. Pantries are stocked differently and kitchen appliances, cookware, technology, and tools are evolving to make fresh food prep and cooking more convenient and foolproof, reports NPD.


September 26, 2017

Over Half of U.S. Consumers Concerned About Sugar Intake But Concern Doesn’t Always Translate to Behavior

Over half of U.S. adults and teens say they’re trying to get less sugar in their diet, apparently the operative word is trying.


September 18, 2017

Cultural Influences and Adventurous Tastes Drive Popularity of Ethnic Flavors in U.S.

Cultural influences and the more adventurous taste buds of U.S. consumers have made flavors like tikka masala, poblano, and doenjang recognized names on grocery store shelves and restaurant menus. The affinity U.S. consumers continue to show for ethnic flavors and dishes is supported by the fact that 75 percent of U.S. adults, especially young adults, are open to trying new foods, reports The NPD Group, a leading global information company.


August 15, 2017

Millennial Parents’ Eating Choices Are Influenced by a Blend of Lifestyle and Generational Attitudes

Millennials are growing up and having kids and while some of their generational attitudes remain intact, their lifestyle as parents often change the how, what, and why behind their consumption choices. Breakfast is a meal occasion where being a Millennial parent necessitates convenience over satiation, which is the primary motivation for breakfast choices of Millennials without kids, according to a recently released report by The NPD Group, a leading global information company.


June 27, 2017

Growing Ecommerce Grocery Channel Will Accelerate Adoption of Meal Kit Delivery Services

There continues to be a lot of buzz about meal kit delivery services — from celebrities launching their own services, ecommerce retailers partnering with food companies to develop meal kits, to major food companies investing in meal kit delivery services — but still adoption by U.S. consumers is relatively small at roughly 5 percent of households, reports The NPD Group, a leading global information company. One of the barriers to adoption is the expense of meal kit delivery services, according to an NPD Group study, but with the growth of online grocers offering meal kits, the kits will become more readily available, affordable and, as a result, more adoptable.


June 20, 2017

There is Still Room for Brick-and-Mortar Grocers Even with Amazon’s Announcement to Buy Whole Foods

Grocery e-commerce has a lot of headroom for growth with only seven percent of U.S. consumers shopping online for groceries in the last month, reports The NPD Group, a leading global information company. Consumers who are lapsed from grocery shopping online or have never shopped for online groceries point out a number of barriers to their adoption of online grocery shopping, the top reason being that they want to pick out their own fresh items. Amazon’s recently announced purchase of Whole Foods will help overcome this barrier for Amazon Prime members (52 percent of online grocery shoppers are Amazon Prime members), active online shoppers, like young adults and men, and urban consumers; but there remains a large sector of the population that will continue to be served by brick and mortar grocery stores.


June 13, 2017

Many Consumers Turn To The Expertise of Restaurants To Get Seafood Into Their Diets

The health benefits of eating seafood are well-documented but many consumers lack the confidence to select the right seafood and prepare it in-home, which is why many consumers turn to restaurants. Shellfish, which tends to be more costly and therefore to some consumers riskier to prepare at home, appear to be the seafood of choice when dining out, reports The NPD Group, a leading global information company.


May 10, 2017

Innovation and Expansion Surround Plant-Based Dairy and Meat Alternatives but Market Still Remains Niche

In recent years there has been a lot of expansion and innovation surrounding plant-based dairy and meat alternatives in the U.S., even with dairy and animal-protein manufacturers finding ways to enter the space, but the market’s potential is still being determined. According to The NPD Group, a leading global information company, the market for plant-based alternatives is still evolving as consumers begin to leverage these items because of food allergies or they’re seeking what they believe to be more healthful options.


Food and Beverage
Insights


February 14, 2018

Digitally Enabled Convenience

From mobile ordering to delivery apps and order kiosks, the U.S. foodservice market is experiencing a digital evolution. New convenience-enabling technologies are a bright spot in an otherwise slow period for the industry — they’re growing consistently and adding excitement. How many restaurant visits are paid for with mobile apps? What stops consumers from using digital services for their restaurant and c-store visits? Find out in this infographic.


January 24, 2018

How a Juice Manufacturer Got The Information Needed To Regain Lost Sales

After years of leading the fruit-juice category in the lodging segment, a particular manufacturer slipped to second place in the market. In fact, a competitor was outpacing our client’s sales by 10 points each month.


December 8, 2017

From Pantry to Table

From Pantry to Table


October 5, 2017

At-Home Food Prep — Convenience is King

Fresh foods are growing after decades of consumers shifting to “convenient” packaged and processed solutions. As the desire for more fresh options in U.S. kitchens has grown, the definition of convenience has shifted.


September 12, 2017

Sweet Smarts: Consumers’ Concerns About Sugar

Over the last decade, U.S. consumers became less concerned about checking nutrition labels for calories, fat, and sodium. But sugar held steady until an uptick in 2016 and 2017. Now it’s their number-one priority when checking labels.


September 12, 2017

Grocery E-commerce in the Amazon Age

Rapidly shifting U.S. food and beverage shopping habits have many companies searching for ways to make the most of the evolving grocery market, and grocery e-commerce is naturally getting a lot of attention. Amazon’s recent acquisition of Whole Foods will surely be a game-changer from a distribution perspective, but it also has the potential to overcome a top barrier among consumers who haven’t started buying groceries online.


August 10, 2017

Burger King’s Mac n’ Cheetos

Just like Taco Bell, which used Doritos as a taco shell, Burger King used what is called “Cheetos dust” to encase its handheld mac n’ cheese snack.


August 3, 2017

Food For Thought

It’s widely known by now that Amazon.com acquired Whole Foods Market allowing Amazon further penetration into the fresh grocery world.


August 3, 2017

Living the Hygge Life

The Danes call it hygge -- "the ongoing pursuit of homespun pleasures." And they've passed it along to the U.S. That cozy, homey feeling is sparking growth of meals eaten in the home.


July 17, 2017

Smart Food Companies Are Connecting Their Products to a Broader Experience

Consumers are shifting their dollars from acquiring things to having an experience, and this includes food. Hear what's trending from Senior Industry Analyst David Portalatin.



Food and Beverage
Insights and Opinions from our Analysts and Experts


November 13, 2017

Real Life Lessons Learned and Treasured

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.



August 23, 2017

A New Take on Health and Wellness

It’s that time of year when I gather and review all of the food and beverage and foodservice research we’ve conducted over the past year and begin compiling the next annual edition of Eating Patterns in America. One of the continuing themes I’m seeing this year is how U.S. consumers are redefining what healthy and wellness means to them.  Consumer attitudes toward health and wellness have evolved beyond dieting and exercise, and are now more about a personal lifestyle in which wholesome foods and beverages play a role. Personal is the operative word. More than half of Americans agree they work hard to live healthy but define healthy based on their own needs.

As part of our study, Consumption Drivers: How Need Shapes Choices, we looked at the how, what, and why behind healthy consumption choices.  The definition of healthy eating has been broadened to include how food is processed and produced, like clean labels, fresh, non-genetically modified, or organic. This broader spectrum of wellness is a primary need throughout the day but it manifests differently at each daypart based on each consumer’s motivations. For example, those making healthy and nutritious food choices at breakfast and snack times are driven by the need for a healthy start. Men, 65 and older, women, ages 45 to 64, and adults with no kids fall into the well-developed group for healthy start motivations.  The need for smart choices is present for people practicing restraint at lunch, cutting calories and sugar to lose weight. The demographic skews for smart choices include men, ages 18-54, kids, and teens. 

Beyond healthy eating behavior, our research partner, CultureWaves*, points out that today’s definition of wellness also encompasses physical, mental, and emotional health. Balancing the mind as well as the body has led to the creation of numerous apps, products, and services built around monitoring the influencers of physical and mental health. With greater access to information about their personal wellness, consumers are taking increasingly more responsibility for their own health, choosing to be proactive instead of reactive. With the assistance of technology, information at their fingertips, wholesome foods, and accessible nutrition and workout programs, health and wellness fits seamlessly into consumers’ everyday lives.  

The irony of this modern approach to healthfulness is that, collectively, we aren’t exercising or dieting more and we’re not losing more weight, but that’s no longer the point, we are embracing a lifestyle centered on health and wellness and future well-being.

 

*CultureWavesTM provides consumer insights that are used by some of the top companies in the world to add a layer of qualitative behavioral insights to the traditional quantitative data, giving perspective and real time evidence around the evolution of a category. http://culturewaves.net



April 13, 2017

Are Online Grocers Encouraging Multiple-Stop Shopping?

I sometimes feel in the minority of men when it comes to grocery shopping because I actually don’t mind the task. Between NPD’s and my anecdotal research sources (a.k.a. my friends), men typically can’t wait to get the heck out of grocery stores and view the trip as a chore. However, even I don’t mind saving time by having someone else deliver my groceries right to my front door by using an online grocer.

My shopping patterns have changed thanks to the internet and it dawned on me the other day that I’m actually using more, not fewer, channels since much of my purchasing happens online. While I might be using more channels I’m spending less time in a physical store and I’m not alone in this shopping paradigm. Our National Eating Trends®(NET®) shows users of online grocers typically shop at twice as many channels as their offline counterparts (six versus three, respectively).

Are online grocers revolutionizing the shopping experience? I wouldn’t describe pace of change like the runaway grocery cart that’s heading for your brand-new car in the parking lot, but the seeds for future changes have been planted. As I mentioned, men typically have very negative views of grocery shopping but men are becoming increasingly responsible for acquiring their household groceries. More than 40 percent of primary grocery shoppers are now men, but they’re not taking on the task with open arms. This is a leading reason why men, ages 18-34, make up twice their fair share of all online grocery shoppers, according to our report, The Virtual Grocery Store. Since younger and tech savvy consumers are leading the way for the online segment to grow, we should expect this to be a larger behavior in the future.

There are a few things industry players can do now to prepare for this growth. Acknowledge that delivery/- online services have left the gate and are gaining favor with consumers. This underscores the need for manufacturers and retailers to partner on creating strategies to meet consumers wherever they shop. Whether it is delivery, click-and-collect, meal delivery kits, or traditional in-store, retail plans must now be holistic in their approach if they want to guarantee future success. Also, for slower moving or lower distribution products use this as an opportunity to drive sales. With online grocers, it’s less about shelf space and more about availability. And, don’t forget that your competition is just a click away so make sure you don’t give consumers an excuse to leave!


March 22, 2017

When It Comes to Defining “Healthy,” It’s Personal

 The U.S. Food and Drug Administration started a public process to redefine the “healthy” nutrient content claim for food labeling. They want to make sure the definition for the “healthy” labeling claim stays up-to-date. For example, public health recommendations now focus on various thresholds fat, added sugars, or nutrients that consumers aren’t getting enough of, like vitamin D and calcium.

Recently I was part of an FDA-hosted panel that was part of a public forum to discuss the definitions of “healthy.” Food companies, lobbyists, nutritionist, and even a grammarian who wanted the FDA to consider the grammatically correct term “healthful” instead of “healthy,” were among the hundreds of individuals and organizations who provided comment.  All commented with the good intention of getting consumers to eat “healthy”… or should I say healthful.

Here’s what we know with our 30-plus years of tracking all aspects of how consumers eat: consumers today define “healthy” to mean fresh, authentic, and real. It’s clear to them that an apple is healthy.  If the food is processed, they want transparency, meaning they want to know the makeup of the food, including the positive attributes of the food that they may desire in their diet. They want all of the necessary information to decide what they will eat and what they will not. In other words, the definition of “healthy” is personal.


March 14, 2017

G M Ooooh Here We Go Again!

I’m often asked if non-GMO is a passing fad or engrained behavior, and given how often I’ve been asked this over the years I’m going with the latter.

But it’s not just my gut instinct that’s driving that belief. We decided to take another look at the pulse of consumers’ concerns around GMOs and there have been some very interesting shifts in just three years. I used to joke in my presentations how most people had no idea what GMOs were yet there are millions of consumers who are saying they need to avoid them. Back in 2013, more than half of consumers said they had little to no awareness regarding GMOs. Well, that’s not the case anymore.

In fact, most consumers now have some idea of what GMOs are and many more consumers can identify potential benefits to using them centering mostly around more resilient crops. But this increase in understanding hasn’t quelled any fears for consuming genetically modified foods. In 2013, about 70 percent of consumers had concerns and that figure is now 76 percent in 2016.

The reason why I think it’s more of an engrained behavior that will last has to do with who’s driving this increase. Adults in their 20s and 30s are the main reason for the increase in awareness and concern, and since their food preparation habits are beginning to solidify, we should expect more of these behaviors as they become more prominent players in the economy and raise their children under these habits.

I think a clear example of how this is changing is the increased use of organic foods, which is one method consumers can use to avoid GMOs. Previous generations saw this as a way to feed their children “clean” foods but the parents would use traditional foods as they didn’t see the need to spend the extra money on themselves. As evidenced in both our National Eating TrendsÒ information as well as consumer interviews, Millennial parents are now asking why shouldn’t they use organic foods for themselves since they use them for their children for healthful reasons.

With the new GMO labeling law set to take effect, the question isn’t if you should disclose but how you should disclose. You can use a QR code that consumers can scan but our research shows most consumers find that inconvenient. That being said, consumers also appreciate when companies are being open and honest about their manufacturing processes. If the QR code is the way you go, you might want to use that as a chance to talk about more than just GMOs. Talk to consumers about where you source your ingredients, charities you support so consumers feel they’re supporting them too, sustainable business practices, etc. Now more than ever, consumers want to know what happened to your products before they hit the shelves.



February 16, 2017

Virtual Grocery Shopping Reality

Driving with my family recently after a long trip away, we pondered what we would do for dinner. We spent the last several days eating restaurant meals and were craving a home cooked dinner. The problem was we were still hours away from home and too tired to stop and grocery shop. My wife suggested using online delivery from our local grocery store. I was skeptical. Would the fresh food sit out on our porch spoiling in the unseasonable Houston heat? She assured me that our retailer promised we could specify the delivery time. And so we placed the order while driving home.

An hour down the road we received a text from Kate, our personal shopper, who told us she was starting our order and asked for permission to text or call with any questions. This communication was followed with a text photo of apples to ensure they met our standards. The order delivered right after we arrived home. We were satisfied with the service and now about half of our grocery shopping has shifted online.

We are among the 52 million consumers who currently shop online and there will be many more of us in the coming months based on our recent The Virtual Grocery Store study. Like us, the majority of online grocery shoppers is satisfied with the experience and become repeat users.

Happy customers, the never-ending search for convenience, more delivery options, shipping deals, like Amazon Prime, the infinite assortment, and more aggressive online strategies being launched by major grocery retailers will drive the quick adoption of virtual grocery shopping. The tipping point will be here before you know it.

Watch, listen, and learn. Food and beverage manufacturers should monitor to ensure their products are part of the assortment where it matters. Grocery retailers should start developing e-commerce programs or to expand current services. Now is the time to act, while shoppers, like my family, are still experimenting and before virtual grocery shopping becomes an everyday reality.


December 22, 2016

Five Eating Attitudes and Behaviors to Watch in 2017

In a world of uncertainty, one thing is certain in 2017: America will eat! But how and where people source meals and the attributes that will win share of wallet are ever-changing. Here are five overarching trends to watch in 2017.

  • The battle for share of stomach will intensify. For several years now, more than 80 percent of meals have been sourced from home; fewer than 20 percent have been sourced from foodservice, and dollars are evenly split between the two. Food manufacturers will benefit from a trend toward eating meals at home by capitalizing on consumers’ desires for fresh, authentic foods. Foodservice operators will increasingly leverage technology to conveniently get their food on the in-home table. At the intersection of this trend is the retailer, who will continue to blur the line between retail and foodservice.
  • Watch for the continued development of the “blended meal.” Consumers are dining at home more, and they value fresh and authentic foods, but convenience remains an important part of the equation. People don’t always source meals entirely at home or away. Look for various components of “homemade” meals to be sourced from items fully or partially prepared. Opportunity exists all along the preparation spectrum, from meal kits to restaurant delivery.
  • Companies will win by getting personal. Even in a mature, low-growth environment, there will be opportunities for double-digit growth. But today more than ever, the consumer is in charge. Access to information is empowering people to do things on their terms. The days of a one-size-fits-all blockbuster idea are over. Consumers will seek out foods with a variety of value-added attributes (fresh, natural, organic), positive benefits (energy, brain food, etc.) and social value (local, sustainable, transparent). Some of these opportunities may seem small by big-company standards, but that is where the growth is.
  • The definition of meal occasions will evolve. People aren’t adding new eating occasions to their day, but how meal and between-meal occasions are composed will continue to change. Foods that offer the flexibility to compose an eating occasion to fit specific needs at a given time will grow, whether packaged goods or foodservice offerings. Consumers will make choices on price point, portion control, and portability – whatever allows them to craft a snack or full meal, spend a little or a lot, take a break or eat on the run.  
  • Experience will make the difference. To stand out, food manufacturers, retailers, and foodservice operators must go beyond sustenance. People will seek out experiences, whether through exploring street food vendors, emerging ethnic flavors, or hands-on experiences, such as learning new food prep techniques. Connecting your product or brand to an experience people are eager to share with others can be an important differentiating factor in 2017.

Get more insights like this. Contact your NPD account representative, call 866-444-1411, or email contactnpd@npd.com.


December 13, 2016

Predictions for the Food and Beverage Industry: Consumers Having It Their Way

You’ve probably heard me say already that food and beverage consumption patterns are slow to change, but lately I find myself eating those words (pun intended). My colleagues and I at NPD have been watching several trends that might disrupt what we consider to be the fundamentals for the food industry. We will closely monitor these shifts in the coming year and beyond.


Sweating the small stuff

It's the little things grabbing consumers’ attention these days; they can be small but influential ways to garner loyalty among consumers. Increasingly consumers are looking to support brands and companies that do more than manufacture a product —they want to support causes and actions aligned with their values. People feel they’re doing right when they support companies that are connected to locally sourced ingredients, donations to charities, sustainable environmental practices, and animal welfare practices. The constant flow of Internet-based information will continue growing, so expect younger consumers especially to research brands and pinpoint those with the qualities they value.


Healthful eating gets personal

It’s not about what works on average but what works for the individual. Just as consumers want personal touches in the foods they eat, health is getting personal as well. Wearable devices that track footsteps and apps that track calories allow consumers to develop their own personal plans to meet their needs, rather than relying on health plans based on averages. Even though dieting is on the decline, “my own diet” is still rising as the most common way consumers take control of their intake. They’re looking for personal plans that meet their own specific interests, and more importantly, their lifestyles.


The future is now

Technology is quickly making its way into how we acquire our foods and beverages. It represents a small portion of food acquisition but has the potential to grow if consumers are convinced the extra cost of technology saves time in other areas of their lives. Technology is also helping consumers avoid the grocery store entirely by enabling them to purchase their groceries online and have them delivered to their homes. Based on growth patterns for this behavior we expect to see more people in the coming years use retailers’ websites or third-party sites like InstaCart to acquire foods and beverages.

Meal kits, still in their infancy, are another time-saver and solve the age-old problem of figuring out what to have for dinner. The kits also prevent fresh foods from spoiling by providing the exact amount of ingredients called for by a particular recipe.

Home is where the meal is

It’s becoming more common to make meals at home while also using dishes sourced from restaurants. Those purchased components are more likely to be appetizers or side dishes, indicating consumers use these dishes as quick ways to round out or complete their meals. It’s yet another sign people want freshly prepared items in the home without having to spend a great deal of time in the kitchen. This is a true generational shift; younger consumers already consume fresh foods at rates higher than older adults did when they were the same age. As these younger consumers age, our forecast shows their demand for freshness in a hurry will only increase.

I’ve got my eye on these trends and so should you. If you’re a food and beverage marketer i then now is the time to react to these shifts because more and more it seems the pace of change is accelerating. It’s about connecting with consumers on a personal level to let them know you understand them as an individual. One size fits all doesn’t seem to fit anymore.



December 13, 2016

Predictions for the Food and Beverage Industry: Consumers Having It Their Way

You’ve probably heard me say already that food and beverage consumption patterns are slow to change, but lately I find myself eating those words (pun intended). My colleagues and I at NPD have been watching several trends that might disrupt what we consider to be the fundamentals for the food industry. We will closely monitor these shifts in the coming year and beyond.


Sweating the small stuff

It's the little things grabbing consumers’ attention these days; they can be small but influential ways to garner loyalty among consumers. Increasingly consumers are looking to support brands and companies that do more than manufacture a product —they want to support causes and actions aligned with their values. People feel they’re doing right when they support companies that are connected to locally sourced ingredients, donations to charities, sustainable environmental practices, and animal welfare practices. The constant flow of Internet-based information will continue growing, so expect younger consumers especially to research brands and pinpoint those with the qualities they value.


Healthful eating gets personal

It’s not about what works on average but what works for the individual. Just as consumers want personal touches in the foods they eat, health is getting personal as well. Wearable devices that track footsteps and apps that track calories allow consumers to develop their own personal plans to meet their needs, rather than relying on health plans based on averages. Even though dieting is on the decline, “my own diet” is still rising as the most common way consumers take control of their intake. They’re looking for personal plans that meet their own specific interests, and more importantly, their lifestyles.


The future is now

Technology is quickly making its way into how we acquire our foods and beverages. It represents a small portion of food acquisition but has the potential to grow if consumers are convinced the extra cost of technology saves time in other areas of their lives. Technology is also helping consumers avoid the grocery store entirely by enabling them to purchase their groceries online and have them delivered to their homes. Based on growth patterns for this behavior we expect to see more people in the coming years use retailers’ websites or third-party sites like InstaCart to acquire foods and beverages.

Meal kits, still in their infancy, are another time-saver and solve the age-old problem of figuring out what to have for dinner. The kits also prevent fresh foods from spoiling by providing the exact amount of ingredients called for by a particular recipe.

Home is where the meal is

It’s becoming more common to make meals at home while also using dishes sourced from restaurants. Those purchased components are more likely to be appetizers or side dishes, indicating consumers use these dishes as quick ways to round out or complete their meals. It’s yet another sign people want freshly prepared items in the home without having to spend a great deal of time in the kitchen. This is a true generational shift; younger consumers already consume fresh foods at rates higher than older adults did when they were the same age. As these younger consumers age, our forecast shows their demand for freshness in a hurry will only increase.

I’ve got my eye on these trends and so should you. If you’re a food and beverage marketer i then now is the time to react to these shifts because more and more it seems the pace of change is accelerating. It’s about connecting with consumers on a personal level to let them know you understand them as an individual. One size fits all doesn’t seem to fit anymore.



November 4, 2016

Generation Alpha Rises

I should go to more conferences.

I was just at a global foodservice conference in Dubai (with a distinctly American agenda) and came across the term "Generation Alpha," which covers anyone born after 2010. Sure this is likely a term bandied about in conference rooms all over North America…but it isn't in Asian or South American conference rooms.  Even less here in the neighborhood of the Global Foodservice Blog Mountain Redoubt in California.

Boy are these kids going to be different. Boy they are different. You need to completely change your game to satisfy these kids like nothing before.

At the moment the oldest of Generation Alpha is 6-years-old.

So I thought (and I'm quoting myself here),"what are they eating so much of that's so different?"

Just to get myself started, I went to the U.S. CREST® foodservice market research database to see what it had to tell me. I found that the five most popular items for Generation Alpha were:

  • French Fries
  • Pizza
  • Milk
  • Chicken Nuggets
  • Regular Carbonated Soft Drinks

"No Way!" (I'm quoting you here). "They're eating fresh fruit and quinoa salads."

Nope.

But these guys are supposed to be different from any previous generation?  What if I went back to 2010, before any of them were born, to see what the favorite items of the youngest Generation Z kids were eating...

  • French Fries
  • Milk
  • Regular Carbonated Soft Drinks
  • Pizza
  • Chicken Nuggets

But we market researcher guys have a trick to tease differences out of the data to highlight things that might not be very important (quinoa) but are very different. We "index" the numbers for each generation relative to the average.  This tells us the "propensity" to do a certain thing compared to (in this case) older people.

And when we do that we find that quinoa is the most important.

Just kidding. We find:

  • Milk
  • Juice that's not orange juice
  • Corn Dogs (!!!!)
  • Yogurt-not frozen yogurt (that's better)
  • Chicken Nuggets

And, to complete the circle, if we go back to 2010, we find the Under 6 set indexing "high" on:

  • Milk
  • Juice that's not orange juice
  • Grilled Cheese
  • Nuggets
  • Corn Dogs

I love grilled cheese sandwiches so much I blogged about them last year.

So, I guess the thing about this generation isn't so much what they eat but how you're going to reach them.  These kids are going to be as much younger than Millennials as Millennials are to Boomers.  Sheesh! What are they going to be up to?  


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