With 2018 off to a roaring start, there are all sorts of new trends in the food (and food display) world. It’s pretty wild to think about how quickly consumer tastes can change year after year. Last year, we saw the rise of pickled and fermented foods, healthy snacks, and technology in grocery stores and the kitchen. These trends are still on the rise, but I’ve also noticed six other consumer preference patterns in 2018.
Produce is hot
In a recent blog post on Pusateri’s Fine Foods, Chris wrote about the chain’s “produce butchers”. These staff members are, quite frankly, fruit and vegetable experts who will carve up your produce in front of you. Similarly to how a delicatessen will cut meat and cheese in front of the customer, produce butchers do the same thing, but with produce. And, while they serve the customer, they’ll give tips on the product, whether it’s pineapple, beets, pomegranates or a new vegetable from across the world.
These butchers often charge an additional fee for their services, meaning that they can be cost prohibitive. However, many, if not most, supermarkets are offering pre-cut and freshly prepared fruits and vegetables sold in a style similar to meat and cheese. The difference here is that produce is typically healthier, and produce can be grouped together to offer an easy, simple way to prepare meals — such as stir fry or jambalaya “meal kits”. All that needs to be done by the customer is to assemble, and perhaps cook, the food.
Flavours from around the world
Taco fever was rampant in 2017, as was consumer interest in fermented foods like kimchi. Foods like these are indicators of a trend towards more global flavours on our dining room tables. And it’s only increasing this year. Sushi is nearly ubiquitous in supermarkets these days, sometimes even prepared fresh on site! Mexican cuisine is also popular, with coloured tortilla chips, unique salsas and gourmet tortillas becoming more readily available.
Vegetable noodles sound like a bit of an oxymoron, doesn’t it? Well, it’s exactly what it sounds like: noodles made out of vegetables — as opposed to regular pasta, which is made with durum wheat. This is connected to the trends we’re seeing in fresh produce. Many vegetables are easy to cut into thin strips or slices, and there are a surprising amount of veggies that are versatile enough for this use — spaghetti squash has already been prepared like this for years. Since these veggies cannot be technically be labelled "noodles", many of them have fun names:
- Zoodles — zucchini noodles
- Poodles — parsnip noodles
- Swoodles — sweet potato noodles
- Toodles — turnip noodles
- Coodles — carrot noodles
- Sqoodles — squash noodles
- Boodles — broccoli stem noodles (peel stem first)
Cut up the veggies, add some sauce and voila, you’ve got a low-carb, healthy pasta!
Fresh, in-store juice
Raw food and whole food diets have been a real fad lately, with a big emphasis on unprocessed (and sometimes, uncooked) foods. An offshoot from these diets has been an increased interest in juicing. Many consumers, especially millennials, are opting to buy freshly squeezed juice instead of juices from concentrate. Supermarkets are adapting to this trend by squeezing juice in-store, with fresh juice available every day. At Cayuga, we’ve had clients who are thrilled with our new Fresh Go Bin product, which maintains product temperatures between 38-41°F — perfect for juices!
Supplements and probiotics
As people begin to learn more about where their food is coming from, they’re also learning how much food affects their daily lives. Whether it’s gut or brain health, the food that we consume every day can have a massive, compounded impact on the way we feel. According to Innova Market Insights, there’s been a 36% increase in global product launches with brain claims on the labels over the past five years — especially in sports nutrition and cereals. And it seems as if every yogurt brand is talking about probiotics now!
I wanted to end with this one, as I think it’s fun and a bit of an ironic counter to the fresh produce and health trends we’re seeing on the rise in 2018. Artisan donuts seem to be popping up all over, especially here in Ontario: Donut Monster has opened in Hamilton, Beechwood Doughnuts in St. Catharines, and Sunshine Doughnuts in Burlington. Perhaps it's their symmetrical qualities that customers are drawn to (who doesn’t love eating a perfect circle?), or maybe it’s the bright colours and fun frosting. I personally think it could just be the fact that donuts are deep-fried, doughy goodness!
Regardless of the trend, at Cayuga we’re always thinking of how we can best serve our clients, which means we’re constantly creating and perfecting new products that respond to larger consumer trends. We get excited about fresh thinking and the evolution of the food retail experience! Explore our products and learn how you can respond to the needs of your customers.