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Consumer Trends

Consumer trends, insights and preferences

Consumer Trends

Taking sides

With farm-to-table menus a priority for both chefs and diners, vegetables can no longer be an afterthought on the plate. In fact, 80% of consumers believe it's important for restaurants to feature more produce, according to research from Datassential presented during the Produce Marketing Foodservice Conference in July.

Consumer Trends

Restaurant customers making healthier choices

Americans are finally practicing what they preach—they are starting to eat more healthfully when dining out. A recent study from The NPD Group found that over the past decade, consumers have shifted away from fried foods, hot dogs and soft drinks and moved toward grilled foods and better-for-you breakfasts.

While ketchup and mustard have been the go-to condiments for years, Americans are now turning toward those of other countries to pump up plates of food. “Condiments and sauces are the fashion accessory of the culinary world,” says Kimberly Egan, CEO of the Center for Culinary Development. ‘They are a necessary part of the ensemble as diners seek enhanced food experiences and more global flavors.”

Restaurants may be watching their food purchasing pennies more carefully, but that isn’t hampering creativity in the kitchen. We gathered predictions from a team of expert forecasters; here are the top food trends to watch in the coming year.

The rapidly growing Hispanic population will continue to drive demand for more ethnically diverse foods, NPD forecasts. But spicing up the menu with Latin flavors and ingredients is not the only way to attract Hispanic diners. It also pays to learn a bit about their restaurant behavior.

Communal tables and shareable small plates may have spawned the social dining trend, but today’s customers want more. Gen Y—aka the Millennials—are leading the charge. And they spend a lot more of their disposable income on dining out than other generations.

Requests for gluten-free menu items are not coming only from those with gluten sensitivities anymore. Americans have gotten it into their heads that a gluten-free diet is a healthier way to eat. As of January, 2013, almost one-third of U.S. adults say they want to cut down or be free of gluten in their diets, according to The NPD Group, which has been tracking the eating habits of Americans since 1976.

For centuries, whole cultures have been sustained through the use of a variety of food preservation practices such as fermenting, pickling, conserving, canning and drying. And while these practices fall in and out of favor year after year, today they are enjoying a revival on menus in surprising new ways.

The recession nearly led to the category's demise, but concepts that evolved survived—and even thrived.

How many American consumers use coupons, how frequently and in what format? These questions and more are answered in the state of discouting analysis.

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