|We’re kicking off the new year with what you might call our prognostication edition. We’ll be looking first at overall food trends, then zeroing in on what chefs see happening with restaurant trends, and finally, we’ll take a peek at changing consumer attitudes that will be trending in the coming year.
Food Channel Forecast: Top Ten Food Trends for 2012
The Food Channel released its annual perspective on what it sees happening in the world of food for the year ahead. Its top ten list is compiled in conjunction with CultureWaves, the International Food Futurists and Mintel International.
Among the predictions for 2012…
- Inconspicuous Consumption. In tough economic times, those that are doing well don’t really want to cut back, but they don’t want to flaunt it either. This attitude has had an impact on many restaurants as well as on culinary tourism.
- Social Cooking. Expect to see more—and more expansive—outdoor kitchens in the coming year. We’re talking complete setups with covered patio, granite counter prep areas, sink, mini fridge, rotisserie, stove tops and big screen TVs. You’ll also see more “group cooking,” with everyone participating, using multipurpose cooking equipment.
- Groovin’ On Peruvian. The next hot ethnic food is the cuisine of Peru. The South American country hosts one of the world’s biggest annual food festivals, is home to many new culinary schools, and new Peruvian restaurants are opening up all over the USA. There’s probably one coming soon to your neighborhood.
- The Rise of the YouTube Chef. Everyone’s a star in their own kitchen, and now these new Julia Childs and Emeril wannabes want to bring their kitchen into your home—or at least on your home computer or mobile device. Expect these amateur chefs (and pros, too) to multiply like rabbits in the year(s) ahead.
This quartet of trend predictions serves as an appetizer for the full story. Click here to view the full Food Channel Top Ten list, including evidence links.
Chefs Pick Top Restaurant Trends
Every year the National Restaurant Association surveys nearly 1,800 chefs from the American Culinary Federation for its annual “What’s Hot” list.
At the top of the list is kind of a variation on the old real estate cliché: Location, location, location. On the chef’s list you could amend it as “Local-local-local.” No less than four of the top ten trends called out by the chefs have to do with local foods. The number one trend listed is Locally Sourced Meats and Seafood. Next at #2 is Locally Grown Produce . Coming in at #4 is Hyper-Local Items and #8 is Locally Sourced Wine and Beer. Are we seeing a message here?
“Local farms and food producers have become an important source of ingredients for chefs and restaurateurs wishing to support the members of their business community and highlight seasonal ingredients on menus,” says Joy Dubost, Ph.D, R.D., director of Nutrition & Healthy Living for the National Restaurant Association. “Local sourcing of everything, from meat and fish, to produce, to alcoholic beverages, is a big trend for 2012.”
Nutrition, especially when it comes to children, is another major focus for restaurants today, reflecting consumers’ increasing interest in healthful eating, according to the chefs. And, once again, sustainability comes up big on the chefs’ survey.
Here’s the NRA Chefs’ top ten trend list for 2012.
1. Locally sourced meats and seafood
2. Locally grown produce
3. Healthful kids’ meals
4. Hyper-local items
5. Sustainability as a culinary theme
6. Children’s nutrition as a culinary theme
7. Gluten-free/food allergy-conscious items
8. Locally produced wine and beer
9. Sustainable seafood
10. Whole grain items in kids’ meals
Six Key Consumer Trends for 2012
Leo Burnett Chicago recently released a study on people and behavior that focuses on six key consumer trends predicted to have a lasting impact in 2012 and beyond.
The study, “HumanKind 2012: The Transformation of Aspiration ,” forecasts societal changes vitally important to U.S. brands and marketers. According to the study, we’re moving away from the “Big Plan” we once had to go to school, grow up, get married, have kids, and climb the corporate ladder. Today we’re seeing more men staying at home, more women working, and nearly 40% of all children being born to a single mom. More men are doing the food shopping and cooking the bacon that Mom brought home. (The Food Channel predicted this a year ago, calling out “Men in Aprons” as one of its top ten trends for 2011.)
Here are the six key consumer insights identified in the study.
1. Sense of fairness declines, happiness inequality rises. Optimism is in serious decline, especially those with lower incomes. Feelings of inequality and unfairness are everywhere. Winning brands will be those that consistently deliver acts of fairness and behave with demonstrable morality. Think “fair trade” products and legitimate cause marketing.
2. The average American family is anything but. People define their own family situation, whether it’s a single parent household or something more traditional. ABC’s Modern Family excepted, traditional media is slow to catch up to the changing American family. Brands that reflect this new diversity in their marketing efforts will show that their products fit the new reality.
3. Men evolve as masculinity declines. The old roles of the male bread winner and female bread baker are often reversed today. Food brands that keep that in mind will have a better opportunity for success.
4. Healthy is in the eye of the beholder. Food is still one of the few affordable luxuries. While 47% of Americans say they would like restaurants to offer healthier options, only 23% actually order those items. When presented with the choice between a salad or a burger, consumers see more value in the satisfaction of the juicy hamburger.
5. Collective bargaining is a weapon of survival. Daily deal giants such as Groupon and Living Social let Americans get deals on a plethora of products and services, including food and restaurant offerings. A growing segment of Americans will pay full retail only as a last resort.
6. Social/mobile technology: abandon the novel, embrace the practical. There will be 20 million new smart phone users in 2012. Food brands, restaurants and retailers that show they are in tune with the latest technology and find new and pragmatic ways to interact with tech-savvy consumers have a chance to reap huge dividends.
“This year’s power brands will be those that quickly adapt to changing human behavior and recognize how this shift is reshaping the fabric of American society,” says Stephen Hahn-Griffiths, chief strategy officer for Leo Burnett.
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