Staying abreast of Trends in the Food Industry can be a challenging task in today's world! Dana McCauley (Dana McCauley & Associates) addressed this issue at the First Annual HR Food Processing Council Conference earlier this year.
Earlier this year, I was fortunate to hear some excellent speakers at the First Annual HR Food Processing Council Conference which was held in Toronto and one of those addressed trends in the Food Industry. Like many of you, I receive emails and newsletters regarding the latest in trends - and having a handle on trends can play a crucial role in our business - from innovation through product development, testing, advertising and forecasting back to production.
Dana McCauley (Dana McCauley & Associates) spoke at the Conference specifically on Food Trends and I must admit, I was enthralled with her presentation from beginning to end.
Dana is well known in the industry - working with companies all over the world. She has authored several books, has appeared on Television programs, and even assisted Chefs at the White House.
She works particularly with emerging trends in the Food Sector and not unlike our Fishbone Diagrams in the continuous improvement world, she begins with a trend "Tree" and the contemplating "forces" (trunk) at work that create the "trends" (branches). There are both "push trends" which are public relations oriented and market driven and "pull trends" which are consumer driven. A real "true trend" would be one that depends more on the pull (consumer) then the push.
I thought I might share just a few of the thoughts that are forming those "branches" that Dana works with:
* Canadians are looking for more healthy and organic foods. There is a huge interest in purchasing locally grown produce and there are now somewhere in the neighbourhood of 916 organic farms in Canada growing fruits and vegetables.
* With information at our fingertips and a sincere interest in learning about the foods we eat and the effect on our bodies, people are searching for more information on products and their lineage. Foods that aid in health and wellbeing top the list. Also along the same lines, it is interesting to note that 63% of all consumers want to recognize the ingredients on a label emphasizing the growing need for knowing where and what ingredients products come from.
* Humanely raised foods are also of interest to some consumers so much so that they are willing to pay up to 10% more for them. This includes eco-conscious consumers who are comparing grass fed beef to grain fed as just one example.
* There has been a great deal of attention on meat. Pork, as an example, is currently the number one linked to recipe on the web. A recent study mentioned that the average person eats 28 pigs in a lifetime in North America which is twice as much as the global average and three times as much as the World Cancer Research Fund recommends. With that knowledge in mind, some consumers have started to suggest activities such as "Meatless Mondays" to decrease consumption. Interestingly enough, from a sustainability side, those in product innovation and development are experimenting by growing meat in a lab environment from a cell. Fish and chicken like substances have already been developed.
* When it comes to Packaging trends, there is a pull trend for ergo metric (easier to open and read) packages, greener-biodegradable, smaller, and microwavable containers. Supplementing packaging requirements are also the need for quick response coding for traceability and tracking.
* There is an increase in home cooking which stems from internet clubs, hobby activity or from necessity in these economic times. At the same time, feeling that increase in home cooking and the need for healthier foods, there is a movement afoot to provide breakfasts on the go that meet those requirements - ie. McDonald's is exploring offering instant Oatmeal through the drive-through as an example.
* Ethnic trends are increasing rapidly.
* The trends for whole grains, brain foods, portion control, omega fatty acids, pro-biotics, calcium, lower sodium, etc. continue.
These are just a few of the issues that were discussed - there are countless interesting facts and statistics that this topic can generate. Dana mentioned that regardless of the information at hand - at the end of the day - when it comes to foods that we eat and even new product development - the only question to ask is "would you buy it yourself?"
If you have a chance, and are interested in knowing more about Dana, her website at "The Test Kitchen Incorporated" and weekly blog can be accessed at www.thetk.ca.
Have a great week!