June 17, 2009 – This afternoon I attended a “webinar” about emerging trends affecting the food industry. For those unfamiliar with the term, a webinar is pretty much exactly what it sounds like. You view a slide presentation over the Internet while listening to the host’s remarks streamed live through your computer speakers or headphones. As the program progresses, you can type in questions that the host will address at the end of his or her prepared remarks.
I might revisit some of these topics in future blog posts or editorials, but the gist of the material – presented by Marion Chan of TrendSpotter Consulting, in association with the Guelph Food Technology Centre and the Almond Board of California – can be summed up in five key points:
- The needs of baby boomers continue to drive the dominant trends in the industry.
- Consumers are making decisions based on nutrition, although “too good to be true stories” won’t work, especially with Canadians, who tend to be more skeptical than consumers in the U.S. and Europe.
- Product differentiation must be real; it can’t be accomplished with superficial claims, such as, “it tastes better.” (Of course, this puts a whole new spin on Miller Lite’s “tastes great/less filling” beer campaigns. Maybe they were being ironic.)
- Consumers are trying to stretch their food dollars by becoming more efficient and cutting down on waste. They’re compromising on grocery buying – what kids eat vs. what adults eat. Example: Ms. Chan presented data showing major growth in the nut category as a compromise between fruit (for adults) and potato chips (for kids).
- Snacking is here to stay and has become the fourth meal of the day. Twenty-three per cent of all meals are snack meals, and the snack-food category has grown 6 per cent compared to last year. We consume a fourth of our calories through snacking.
So, there you have it. Some fresh new data on trends, hot off the virtual press. What are your thoughts on this information? What trends have you been noticing so far in 2009?
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