Phil Lempert

Lempert Report: Top Ten American Food Trends 2013 – one to five

Phil Lempert, also known as the Supermarket Guru, is one of America’s leading consumer trend-watchers and analysts. Here are his top trends for 2013 – the first five here, numbers six to ten here:

Trend #1 – Sustainability: We stop wasting food

The National Resource Defense Council estimates that about 40 percent of all food in the United States goes uneaten – that’s about $165 billion wasted each year; and costs the average family of four between $1,350 and $2,275 a year. To paint an even better picture, that’s about 20 pounds of food wasted per person each month. As we have seen America’s waistlines grow, so has the amount of food we waste. In fact, NRDC estimates we discard 50% more food than we did back in the 1970s.

The just-released Eco Pulse Survey from the Shelton Group reports that 39% of Americans feels “the most green guilt” for wasting food (that’s almost double the number who feel guilty about non-recycling or forgetting to bring their own bags to the store). Now comes the time to educate and empower supermarkets, food companies and consumers to think about this problem and to change our behaviours.

In the UK, where a public awareness program called “Love Food Hate Waste” began five years ago, over 50 of the country’s leading food retailers and CPG brands have committed to reduce waste in operations and supply chain. In 2012 the European Parliament passed a resolution to reduce food waste by half by the year 2020.

Trend #2 – Health & Wellness: Snacking & mini-meals take the spotlight and we discover the correct portion size

Snacking may be associated with a more nutrient dense diet, according to researchers at Auburn University and Beijing University. The study, published in the February 2012 issue of the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, found that total fruit, whole fruit, whole grains, oils, sodium, and milk scores were all positively associated with snacking frequency. Few studies have examined the role of snacking on overall diet quality, and previous literature has only focused on the contribution of snacking to daily intakes of single nutrients.

Snacking has gotten a bad rap, and that is about to change. This study is the first to look at how snacking contributes to the overall quality of individual’s diets. In this study, snacking was not associated with poorer overall diet quality, and did contribute to a slightly more nutrient-dense diet. The study reported that “A key finding is that ‘people who eat snacks have healthier diets.”

The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition reported research that followed 30 thousand men over a sixteen-year period and found that those who ate just two meals a day had a higher risk of Type 2 diabetes.

We predict that 2013 will see a smaller bites/more frequent eating pattern that reduces overall portion sizes and increases variety. Led by the ubiquitous Millenials, who crave flexible menus with many choices of appetizers and small plates, look for snacking occasions to increase throughout the day.

According to the NPD Group, morning snacking has “shown the greatest growth of any eating occasion over the past decade.” Morning snacks have increased by an average of 22 snacks per person in that period. More frequent snacking may also reinforce the need to reduce the size of portions at all mealtimes.

Trend #3Health & Wellness: The Boomer reality of diabetes, high blood pressure & heart disease

Building on our 2012 prediction of the importance of the Boomer population who will control just over half the dollars spent on grocery foods in 2015 ($706 million each year), serving the food needs of this generation will take new approaches; especially keeping these consumers who seek quality products, are brand loyal and not particularly price-sensitive healthier longer. 

According to Packaged Facts “When they eat, they’re looking for balance, and they understand the concept of forgoing one thing in order to enjoy something else….Authority avoiders since the ‘60s and ‘70s, today’s Boomers want to…eat what they want and how much they want, when and where they want it.”

Research from Canada and the US — nations where many Boomers have similar lifestyles and life issues — reflect deliberate thinking about how they eat. Studies by NPD Group in both countries show that nutrition and healthy eating habits are top priorities for the Boomers who are more concerned than any other age group about nutrition when planning a meal. 72% of Canadians age 65+ regard nutrition as important as taste. The number of Boomers who follow the countries’ “food guidelines” are  double that of those aged 18-34 years. In the US, seven out of ten Boomers seek more fibre, 60% try to consume less fat and cholesterol, and 40% aim to eat fewer fried foods and for good reason.  

According to data from the 2011 National Diabetes Fact Sheet (American Diabetes Association), 25.8 million children and adults in the US have diabetes (8.3% of the total population) with an estimated annual cost of $18-billion.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimate that a staggering 79 million Americans over the age of 20 have prediabetes, which can double the risk for cardiovascular disease.

The CDC also reports that about every 25 seconds an American will have a coronary event, the most common is a heart attack. In 2010, an estimated 785,000 Americans had a new coronary attack, and about 470,000 had a recurrent attack with the American Heart Association projecting that by the year 2030 this costs of this disease will rise to $389- billion per year. The risk can be greatly reduced by taking steps to controlling diet and exercise.

Another report from the CDC found that one-third of adults have high blood pressure, a third of them untreated, and half do not have it fully under control. High blood pressure (or hypertension) is known as the silent killer because it has virtually no symptoms, but increases the risk for coronary artery disease and stroke and is linked to a decline in cognitive function in otherwise healthy adults, starting in their late teens! 

Look for heart healthy antioxidant rich foods including tomatoes, oily fish (such as salmon and sardines), green tea, carrots, sweet potatoes, dark leafy greens, alfalfa sprouts, cocoa (dark chocolate), soybean and safflower oil, seeds, popcorn, berries, apples, and whole-grains to take over the supermarket shelves; along with sodium reduced and potassium rich reformulations in many foods. Potassium and sodium are electrolytes, which controls cellular communication through our bodies and maintains health.

Trend #4The Economy: The new proteins

Proteins are part of every cell, tissue, and organ in our bodies; and are constantly being broken down and replaced. Protein accounts for 20 percent of our body weight, performing a wide variety of functions throughout the body as vital components of body tissues, enzymes, and immune cells. Protein is made up of amino acids that are later used for tissue repair and maintenance in the body.

There are twenty different amino acids that join together to make the different proteins; some are made in the body, others are not. The amino acids that cannot be made by the body are called essential amino acids; it is essential that our diet provide these.

The desire for and interest in protein is hot and it is about body composition, sports, satiety and maintaining muscle mass as you get older. Complete proteins are those that provide all of the essential amino acids. Animal-based foods for example, meat, poultry, fish, milk, eggs, and cheese are considered complete protein sources. Incomplete proteins on the other hand, are those that are low in one or more of the essential amino acids, i.e. rice, beans, legumes, etc. Complementary proteins are two or more incomplete protein sources that together provide adequate amounts of all the essential amino acids; an example includes tofu and brown rice or rice and beans.

As food prices for protein commodities increase dramatically (it is conservatively estimated by the USDA the cost of both beef and chicken will increase by at least 5 percent due to the 2012 drought as well as declining supplies), look for a major shift in the nation’s protein food supply by moving away from meat-based proteins. In our Supermarket Guru Consumer Panel Survey on grilling (which was conducted pre-“pink slime” headlines), more than 40 percent of the panel said the next big trend in grilling would be “meatless grilling”

As the culture of our population shifts to a more diverse ethnic mix, this trend is once again being fueled by Millenials of all ethnic backgrounds, who during their college years aligned themselves with the “less-meat to meatless spectrum” according to Packaged Facts’ How Gen Y Eats; and changed their diets to include low cost/high protein options like peanut and other nut butters and preparing just about every recipe with the versatile chickpea.

We can expect to see popular protein influences from around the world becoming mainstream including Greek yogurt, Asian cuisines, Indian cuisines including those foods for breakfast including Adai and Pesarattu as well as tofu-based burgers and other convenience foods.

Trend #5 Lifestyle: Breakfast becomes the most important meal of the day

The benefits of breakfast are becoming hard to dispute, study after study show that breakfast is be the most important meal of the day!!

The benefits of breakfast range from kids doing better in school and having less behavioural issues, to maintaining a more normal weight, more energy, better mood, and even improved memory. Will the costs of foods on the rise, many have taken typical protein rich breakfast foods into other day parts including lunch and dinner as a way to save money and maintain their healthy eating.

Packaged Facts reports that Baby Boomers in particular want all food and experiences customizable and have extended food day parts, in particular that of all-day breakfast.

The latest study, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, found that men who skipped breakfast more often had a 20 percent higher risk of Type 2 diabetes than those who consumed breakfast. The increased risk remained even after the researchers accounted for body mass index and the quality of the subjects’ breakfasts.

Keeping blood sugar stable is key to optimal wellness. Starting off the day with a solid breakfast is key. Some great choices include yogurt with granola or cereal, a veggie omelet with whole grain bread, a yogurt-based fresh or frozen fruit smoothie along side eggs. Nut and seed butters like almond, peanut, and sunflower are not only protein rich, but rich in essential minerals as well; slice banana or strawberries on top. Nut and seed butters are extremely versatile and can even be mixed in with oatmeal to increase the nutrition content of this already nutritious breakfast choice.

Read about Trends six to ten here

About the author: Phil Lempert is one of the best-known US analysts on consumer behaviour, marketing trends, new products and the changing retail landscape. He publishes prolifically online and is a regular on US television and radio and in newspapers.