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The frugal behaviors adopted during the recession are becoming ingrained and reflect a new normal regarding consumer shopping, dining and eating preferences. What constitutes value is being redefined, and consumers are making different choices than in years past that will drive their food and beverage purchases for the foreseeable future, according to “Food Flavors and Ingredients Outlook 2010,” the sixth edition in an annual series by New York-based market research publisher Packaged Facts.
“The outlook for 2010 is best viewed with guarded optimism. Consumer food and beverage choices will reflect the latest social and demographic trends, while also continuing to show financial restraint when it comes to where consumers shop for food and drink, where they dine, and the item and meal selections they make,” said Packaged Facts publisher Don Montuori.
Retailers, manufacturers and foodservice operators are expected to continue to appeal to the lingering thriftiness, capitalizing on recession-induced developments such as the surge in popularity of food trucks, which several high-end restaurants have used to introduce less expensive versions of existing menu items from their sit-down establishments, and which increasingly feature gourmet cuisine prepared by chefs with impressive credentials.
Meanwhile, the prevailing barrage of dining deals, dollar and value menus, and a sense that everything is on sale will likely continue at least until unemployment rates decline and the housing market shows significant signs of recovery late in 2010 or into 2011.
Packaged Facts predicts that one of the more enduring trends coming out of the recession will be simplification in all facets of life, food included. In the coming year, more food and beverage manufacturers are expected to jump on the product reformulation bandwagon, offering new products with a reduced number of ingredients, and substitutions that look less like chemicals and more like ingredients that convey the message that the products are healthier, fresher, more natural and better-tasting.
Consumer preference for healthier, more natural cuisines at affordable prices will shape food flavor and ingredient trends for the year. Japanese food made with sustainable seafood varieties will join the increasingly popular assortment of Korean fare in leading the way when it comes to Asian cuisine with a more mainstream focus.
Packaged Facts also predicts that sodium reduction and the development of sodium-reduced foods will be a focal point throughout 2010, along with the possible corollary recommendation for greater consumption of dietary potassium. And paralleling predictions in the 2009 edition of the report, stevia and agave are expected to gain momentum as alternative sweeteners that find their way more frequently into retail products.