The Food Journal and Food, Nutrition & Science

An alliance between The Lempert Report and The Center for Food Integrity

The Top Food Trends for 2010

The Top Food Trends for 2010

In the News

November 29, 2009

There is little doubt that our grocery shoppers are yearning for optimism after the past 20 or so months of this faltering economy. Brand Credibility is more important than ever and both retailers and CPG brands are understanding that without consumers’ trust, the future will be bleak.

There is a New Consumer Reality. People are eating more meals at home. We are seeing homemakers evolving from mere food assemblers. They are switching brands based on sale prices and even discovering new store formats – like Save-A-Lot, Grocery Outlet and Aldi – making these a part of their regular shopping trips.

Our most recent Consumer Panel Survey, sponsored by ConAgra Foods, focused on how shoppers were planning for the 2009 Holiday Season. Our survey found that 47% of shoppers planned on not holding a holiday party this year and 23% say they will contribute money or food to the parties they attend to "ease the financial burden of the host." Clearly, the sentiment is that "we are all in this together."


Consumers’ acceptance and purchasing of store brands are at an all time high, which has made some CPG brands sit up and take notice as they've seen their market share decline. Retailers are threatening to drop established brands from their shelves and add SKUs in private label. And while many shoppers have been satisfied with the quality and price of their store brands – look for a radical shift in strategy. "Me-too" is out. CPG Shopper Insights are in. And look for the major brands to develop co-branded private labels with retailers that will feature key ingredients and build on-going partnerships between retailer and brand which will fuel innovations. For example, you might see a retailer's private label macaroni & cheese whose package front highlights "made with real Kraft cheese,” or a store brand pasta sauce "made with Hunt's crushed tomatoes." It's a model well established with brands working together, and the next evolution is about to begin. 


People want to know where their foods come from, and with Country of Origin Labeling shoppers are learning more than they ever expected; especially in the meat case where labels that list more than one country are prompting more consumer questions than ever. McDonald's and Burger King have effectively introduced their Angus burgers at higher prices based on the consumers’ perceptions of what this type of beef means; and look for even more growth. The hot trend for 2010 will be the re-emergence of the local butcher – both within supermarkets as well as freestanding establishments – where shoppers will go, select the cuts of meat they prefer and have it ground on demand.


It started with Mad Men, and Brooks Brothers was the first brand to capitalize on the yearnings of the 76 million Baby Boomers as they introduced their "Mad Men" line of men's suits. Now iTunes has a special Mad Men mix. Look for the 60s food brands to do the same. Brands like Jell-O, Banquet and even Funny Face drink mix have huge opportunities – but with a new health profile and more flavor – to meet the nutrition desires and needs of the aging boomer as well as catering to their age-diminished taste buds. Look for less carbonated soft drinks and more vitamin-enriched everything. In 2010, 25% of the U.S. population will be aged 55 and older – need any more proof?


It's a new world of "word-of-mouth" recommendations using the latest technologies: mobile devices, mommy bloggers, twitter and house parties. The 2009 Women and Social Media Study, by and Compass Partners reports that 75% of women visit social networks such as Facebook and MySpace and 55% or 23 million either publish blogs, read blogs, or post to blogs. Look for "boomer bloggers", "daddy bloggers' and "grandma bloggers" to expand the circle. The shopper is depending less on advertising and more on social networking and killers apps to help them make their decisions on where to eat and what foods to buy. Wal-Mart has announced its intension to become a triple-threat in electronic communications, delivering targeted “savings” messages through social networks on the Internet, cell phones and its growing in-store media network. According to Apple, there are currently more than 85,000 apps available to over 50 million iPhone and iPod touch users worldwide. Some of our favorites: GroceryIQ, Locavore, Pair It, Yelp, iEatOut, Soleil Organics, iFood Assistant, Nutrition Navigation, ScanAvert, Recipezaar Sifter, Urban Spoon, Good Guide  and Seafood Watch.


The Food Network might have built its following showcasing the hottest looking female and male chefs, but it’s over! With the success of Julie & Julia and the closing ofGourmet magazine we are now seeing a move back to substance over glitz. The signal is clear, death to the foodie – and the rise of the "anti-foodie" – as we see less of the self-absorbed discussions on the perfect truffle or over-priced wine. By contrast, food programming today includes competitions, dramatic conflict, intimidating personalities, lots of glitz, sexy camera angles, and high energy. The food is part of the presentation, but it doesn't always come across as the star element-which today's shoppers believe it should be.


Instead of relying on the "psychology" of comfort foods, brands are coming out with "relaxation" beverages with herbs and other ingredients designed to actually relax or put you to sleep. Brands like Drank, iChill and RelaxZen may well be the replacements for Vitamin Water and Gatorade. Look for this trend to quickly move to other categories including "anti-energy" bars and snack foods. It may even spawn a resurgence of calming after dinner drinks that you can enjoy at home.


The food industry has woken up and discovered that by using "real foods" as ingredients and a shorter list, not only are their foods healthier but consumers are also buying them up. Brands that are proving the trend include: Haagen-Dazs 5, Healthy Choice All Naturals, Peter Pan Peanut Butter (the only major peanut butter brand with no high fructose corn syrup) and Campbell's Select Harvest and Healthy Request soup lines. 

2010 will be challenging. Weather conditions will impact the cost of raw materials and are likely to increase commodity (and retail) prices. The new smaller store footprint will continue to expand geographically too – and within the established retail banners. Healthcare reform may well open opportunities for food retailers to establish themselves as key resources for consumers as well as fueling new food categories with a bullet-proof nutrition based science behind them. The year promises change, the question is "are we prepared?"