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    Consumers’ Kitchen Connections to Keep Evolving: NPD

    New approaches to eating will carry into next year and beyond

    In 2015, consumers' relationships with their kitchens will continue to evolve as Millennials seek greater involvement in food preparation, multicultural influences increase, and "fresh" foods and meals become ever more indispensable, according to The NPD Group, a Port Washington, N.Y.-based global information company.

    "The fundamental habits of in-home food and beverage consumption are among the most stable consumer behaviors, but food manufacturers and retailers shouldn't take that to mean things aren't changing," said Darren Seifer, NPD food and beverage industry analyst. "In fact, our tracking and forecasts revealed accelerated behaviors and activities among certain groups in the last economic recession. Given these changes, it will be important to understand and incorporate these shifts in consumer attitudes and behaviors into long-term strategic marketing and sales plans."

    Seifer offered the following insights into how consumers will eat in 2015:

    1. Fresh forms of convenience: There’s growing evidence that consumers are shifting the meaning of convenience to include a fresh element. NPD expects to see consumers use fresh ingredients in their foods in greater numbers; at the same time, they'll still look for ways to create these meals in a short time. Appliances like slow cookers, rice cookers and pod coffee makers are proving important aids for consumers who want fresh convenience.
    2. Sharing meal prep: Millennials are interested in being "sensibly involved" with their food and beverage preparation. They like the time-saving factor food companies provide, but at the same time they want to finish a dish with their own flavorings. This behavior was shaped by tough economic times that forced younger adults to become familiar -- even comfortable -- with their kitchens much sooner than would be expected.
    3. Multicultural beyond Hispanic: More than 50 million strong in the United States, Hispanics one of the fastest-growing population groups, with an enduring influence on the way all Americans shop for food, eat and dine out. NPD has noted mainstream movements in consumption with roots in Hispanic culture, among them a strong emphasis on fresh ingredients, heartier breakfasts, and bold seasonings when making in-home meals. What's more, U.S. Hispanics' influence is poised to continue due to their average age: About 60 percent are Generation X or younger, meaning that they'll shape younger generations and a generation as yet unborn. Although not as large as the Hispanic population, Asians are the fastest-growing racial/ethnic group in the United States, currently numbering about 20 million. Their influence on how Americans eat is already apparent in the proliferation of Thai, Chinese, Japanese or Asian fusion restaurants in major cities, as well as on how home cooks spice and flavor their foods.

     

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