Food trends have evolved rapidly over the past decade in the USA. The biggest movement to talk about today is the push for healthy options. Fatty, salty, and sugary foods have been a source of huge profit for decades, but the tables are turning and those businesses will likely be left in the dust very soon.
The health trend is a bit like an avalanche: they will not be stopped, and if a business isn’t prepared to keep up it will be left behind. Hold the sugar, keep the additives, and no chemicals! The old idea of “more is more” is dying, at least in terms of ingredients.
What Are Americans Eating, And Why?
There has been a huge push in the American food market towards healthy, ethical, clean food. The sterile environment of large chain restaurants; coupled with the fats, nitrates, sugar, and chemicals in the food has become more and more distasteful to the American public. This is especially evidenced by the under-forty crowd and the movement has gathered even more momentum in large cities than elsewhere. People want to know what is in the food they are eating, where it came from, and how it is processed. There is a growing opportunity for businesses that operate on a more personal, honest level.
Wanted: Healthy AND Fast
If the emotional detachment found in major chains is displeasing to many Americans, why are they still doing well in terms of profit? There is a movement towards healthy eating, but it is still growing. The main factor, however, is convenience. There is a good, solid market for indie restaurants and cozy, sit-down locations, but there is also a lack of healthy AND fast choices. That is one niche of the market that is wide open.
There are a few sandwich and salad chains that offer quick service, but they do not generally have a drive-thru option, which is a motivating factor for many Americans. Those chains are also still on the edge: while they do offer healthier choices than just burgers and such, they are not organic or very fresh.
Goodbye, Meat and Potatoes
Many Americans grew up on the classic “meat and potatoes” diet and many are now looking for something different. They want better nutrition and more exciting flavors. They want to be surprised by new ideas and learn about where new foods, ingredients, and recipes come from. They want stories about the food that are unlike the farm-grown classic corn-on-the-cob stories.
It Is All About “New”
Due to “food boredom” and nutritional awareness, the push for exotic fruits, spices, recipes, drinks and more grows every day. As mentioned above, people are curious about the world and other cultures. Capitalizing on the flavors and dishes from countries that may not be well-known in American society can prove very successful. Middle Eastern cuisine like that of Persia, Lebanon, and Syria has proved a very successful niche. Americans are bored of having to rely on the pizza delivery guy and the Chinese restaurant down the street.
Concerns in the past over whether or not the American consumer would be willing to try the more adventurous dishes can be set aside; many people are looking for something new to try, and the more interesting the better. Food entrepreneurs who can find something new, something the American consumer has never heard of, will very likely become very successful.
One import remark: if you want to take a non-European approach, your company needs to find a way to be respectful of the culture you are focusing on, integrate people from that culture in all aspects of the business, give back, and be authentic.
Ingredients That Pack A Punch
“Super-Food” has become a buzzword, but many people are becoming more and more conscious of the true nutritional value of certain foods. With the rise of veganism and vegetarianism, many people are looking for plant-based protein. There is also a focus on getting the most “bang for your buck” as they would say, in regards to nutrients. Spirulina, kale, matcha, quinoa, sprouts, mushrooms, and more are becoming more and more popular as consumers learn more about the health benefits of foods that, until recently, were not common parts of the American diet. As scientific studies provide more and more data about the value of certain foods, the ever-growing saturation of information in culture spreads the knowledge. This sparks the rise of trendy ingredients that seem to be sticking around.
While nutrition-conscious eating is on the rise, consumers are still looking for something fun and colorful. Restaurants are achieving many different effects with natural food dyes and innovative ingredients. Edible flowers have captivated many customers, and not just by appearance. Floral flavors are all the rage, and floral drinks and teas are especially popular. Add herbs to the mix and you get popular drinks flavors like lavender, elderflower, lime and mint, hibiscus, and more. It will prove wise to keep an eye on powdered ingredients as well; matcha, cocoa, veggie powders for smoothies, root powders, and even new and improved protein powders are becoming more and more popular, especially for nutrition on the go.
Influencers are driving food trends
Healthy eating and nutritional awareness have taken over the market in a big way. It is a lifestyle, which is really where social media comes in. If you haven’t heard of influencers, the short definition is this: a social media influencer is someone who is well-known and has a large number of dedicated followers. They are great at engaging those followers, and their audience trusts them to provide good, trustworthy content. If your business works with a good influencer they will take your brand and help you choose to promote images that best fit the interests of their followers.
Often posts and articles by influencers, if done right, can seem a lot more trustworthy to the consumer than a regular advertisement. You want your brand to seem like it is a part of life, something that can make the lives of customers better while also being seamless and relevant to them. Influencer marketing is a great way to make your company look like part of a lifestyle and not just a place to spend money, and that is what consumers are looking for.
Consumers often look to celebrities, bloggers, and other influencers to find the next movement and newest lifestyle trend. Anything health-related is going over really well and influencers are really driving the healthy living trend forward.
There are definite trends in the US food market, and many of them seem like they are here to stay. The driving force behind that is the younger generation, many of whom are making fitness, wellness, healthy eating and nutritional awareness a big part of their lives. Ethical, fresh, and healthy food are going to be long-term points to aim for in the market. Bringing new foods and tastes is another trend that is going to last because of the curiosity and wanderlust among the younger generation. The key points to walk away with: You need novelty, new offerings, variety, uniqueness, and nutritious choices.
Authors: Fifteen24 & Catherine Snyder.