Although supermarket prepared foods have snagged stomach share from restaurants in recent years, a third of shoppers skip that section of the store, according to Chicago-based research firm Datassential.
Furthermore, half of those who browse the deli and prepared foods department leave with an empty basket.
“We know that the deli and prepared foods area is not as heavily trafficked as some of the more key aisles — produce, dairy, meat and seafood,” said Brian Darr, managing director at Datassential. “So, our thought is there needs to be a way for stores to better communicate not only the offerings but even any kind of special deals.”
Recently the debate over genetically modified (GMO) foods has heated up again. In just the past few weeks, articles about GMOs have appeared in Slate, the New York Times, and Grist. And over the weekend New York Times writer Amy Harmon wrote again of the saving graces of genetically engineered foods, this time citing “Golden Rice” as a clear example of the life saving abilities of GMOs.
Yet journalists on both sides of the argument seem to have forgotten there are many ways aside from “ science” to describe the world around us, and that there are other highly effective tools out there to solve hunger and malnutrition besides genetic engineering.
The original American snack food was peanuts. A South American native, the peanut arrived in North America via slave ships and showed up in African-inspired cooking on southern plantations. Slaves sometimes made a little cash growing and selling the famous "goober pea," and after the Civil War, when Union soldiers acquired a taste for them, peanuts traveled north. There they took their place alongside beer at baseball games and became a symbol of the cheap and often rowdy upper balconies, dubbed "peanut galleries," in vaudeville theaters. Associations with vaudeville, sports, and the working class didn't lend the legume a very prestigious image, nor did its inherently messy nature. Because peanuts only came in shells, one could identify a peanut-lover by the sound of shell-scrunching and the typical trail of peanut jackets left in his wake.
The mirror is part of an effort to get Americans to change their eating habits, by two social scientists outmaneuvering the processed-food giants on their own turf, using their own tricks: the distracting little nudges and cues that confront a supermarket shopper at every turn. The researchers, like many government agencies and healthy-food advocates these days, are out to increase consumption of fruits and vegetables. But instead of preaching about diabetesor slapping taxes on junk food, they gently prod shoppers — so gently, in fact, that it’s hard to believe the results.
In one early test at a store in Virginia, grocery carts carried a strip of yellow duct tape that divided the baskets neatly in half; a flier instructed shoppers to put their fruits and vegetables in the front half of the cart. Average produce sales per customer jumped to $8.85 from $3.99.
“Consumers are becoming more adventurous, especially with ethnic flavors, as a result of the amalgamation of different ethnicities and cultures globally. This is driving the development of bold, new flavor combinations and the use of spicy ingredients,”Kantha Shelke, PhD told Food Navigator-USA.
“We will see a lot more seasonal flavors, limited edition flavors and flavors that have a lot more heat to them,”said Catherine Alexander, vice president of corporate communications with Comax Flavors.
That amalgamation of flavors is a trend that has had some legs in recent years. While it’s a challenge to come up with new combinations that are achievable and yet not overwhelming, it offers an opportunity for flavors suppliers to differentiate, said Shelke, a principal with the Chicago-based food consultancy Corvus Blue.
“The trend towards combination flavors is a way to move away from flavors that can be copied and towards distinctive signature products. It also helps that the synergy realized when certain fruits flavors are combined also offers an economic advantage in addition to the ‘uniqueness’ and ‘consumer favorite’ possibility, should one hit the jackpot with a certain blend. This is particularly the case with stick packs of dry beverage blends, RTD teas, and dietary supplements and functional beverages,”she said.
The real innovators are seeking to provide customers with a glimpse of tomorrow by getting beyond food and drink and moving into cultural anthropology in order to detect global trends that might not manifest themselves in the broader culture for three or four years, she tells FoodNavigator-USA.
“This is what our proprietary Trenz tool is all about. What are the street artists drawing? What’s happening in music videos?“
Lime, 2013 flavor of the year: It started with a color…
But how does this help Firmenich determine what the hotflavortrends will be in 2017?
When you look at all of these cultural inputs, you start to see patterns, says Lakind.
A few years ago, for example, “It started with a color”, she says. “We kept seeing all these different types of green in street art and other places. It didn’t instantly lead to one flavor, but it started to show us the direction that consumers might be going.”
Fast forward to 2013, and lime was selected as Firmenich’s flavor of the year, she says. “Then we saw that Pantone had chosen emerald as its color of the year and we knew we were onto something.”
In the scorching heat of a California summer, unwatered gardens are producing sweeter, more flavorful fruits than those available in mainstream supermarkets. Commercial growers call it “dry farming,” and it could become an important agricultural practice in the future, when water will likely be a less abundant resource. NPR reports.
HAD YOU PLACED a bet a decade or two ago on what would be the "It" dish of 2013, would you have put your money on fried chicken? Old-fashioned, hard to eat, messy to cook, downmarket and déclassé, it once seemed to belong to the South—and not in a good way. Yet now, against all odds, this old-school classic is trending feverishly.
To save money, more and more grocery shoppers pass up the name brand item for the cheaper name they may never have heard of. Consumers often refer to these as store brand or generic. However, “store brand” and “generic” are not really the same thing.
You can usually distinguish the two by their packaging. The store brand may closely resemble an advertised brand product but just be a name you aren't familiar with. Generic product packaging is usually much more plain. A can of soda might just be labeled “Cola.”