ConAgra Foods Reveals Phil Lempert's Food Trend Predictions for 2013

05 Dec 2012 --- The supermarket guru highlights mini meals, a surge in male shoppers and new appreciation for the frozen aisle to be top of mind for consumers in 2013

05 Dec 2012 --- Snackable mini-meals and frozen foods take center stage in supermarket aisles this year while dads and Millennials get more comfortable and powerful in the kitchen, says Supermarket Guru, Phil Lempert. Lempert, a well-known food industry expert who works closely with ConAgra Foods and retailers across the U.S., holds the reputation as the premier forecaster of consumer behavior within the world of food. This year, Lempert forecasts the most dramatic food changes are not what consumers are eating, rather who is doing the shopping and how consumers are eating. "Not only will there be an increase in male and Millennial grocery shoppers, but there will be a dramatic shift in the sizes of meals and an emphasis on frozen food," says Lempert. "Consumers are looking for food to prepare quickly and conveniently while offering fresh, high-quality ingredients and homemade taste." 

 
In 2013, Lempert says we'll see smaller bites and more frequent eating patterns that reduce overall portion size and increase variety. Restaurants will add more small plates and appetizers to the menu while grocery stores and companies like ConAgra Foods will offer new snacks with appropriate pre-portioned options to take the guesswork out of portion sizes. According to the NPD Group, more than half of Americans snack two to three times per day, while one in five eating occasions is a snack. Look for food brands to release more snack-friendly products like Healthy Choice Greek Frozen Yogurt, Snack Pack Bakery Shop Pudding and Orville Redenbacher Ready-to-Eat Popcorn.
 
Men and dads are getting more comfortable and powerful in the kitchen. Lempert predicts supermarkets will increase their focus on men in 2013 as they've become more active in shopping, meal planning and cooking. According to a June 2012 survey from Cone Communications, more dads than moms (52 percent compared to 46 percent) plan meals for the week ahead. Some supermarkets are even experimenting with "man aisles" – locations in the store featuring male-oriented foods and other products to make shopping and impulse buying more targeted. 
 
According to NPD Group's National Eating Trends, fewer meals are made from scratch (59 percent in 2011, down from 72 percent in 1984) as many Americans are spending less time in the kitchen.  There is a myth that home-cooked is always more nutritious than frozen. However, according to the FDA, there is virtually no nutritional difference between fresh and frozen fruits and vegetables.  Lempert reports that frozen fruits and vegetables are typically harvested and flash frozen leaving them more nutrient dense than their fresh fruit and vegetable counterparts, which can spend as much as half of their peak freshness period in distribution. Many frozen foods like Healthy Choice meals are portion-controlled and start with fresh ingredients, homemade pastas and blended cheeses, and have saturated fat and sodium levels that are much the same as their home-cooked counterparts, if not lower. ConAgra Foods offers other single-serve and multi-serve frozen entrées with Marie Callender's, Bertolli and P.F. Chang's Home Menu meals.
 
According to Lempert, in 2013 supermarkets and food companies will cater more toward Millennial consumers with affordable foods that are flavorful and ethnically diverse. Millennials, those born between 1982 and 2001, will represent 19 percent of the population by 2020, and will have double the buying power for food-at-home. Millennials also love food, and their passionate interest is led by their desire to understand where foods are from, preparation and how food is served. A recent Jefferies Alix Partners study found that Millennials are also deal seekers and are much more focused on finding the lowest price over brand loyalty. 
 
Smart phones and technology are prevalent in the food industry, but the newest wave of technology includes smart phones that network with kitchen appliances and allow consumers to do everything from checking how much milk they have left in the refrigerator, to turning the oven on from another room. Lempert says that the next generation of mobile apps may determine if fruits and vegetables are ripe, if refrigerated and frozen foods have been kept at the correct temperature farm to freezer and even test for foodborne bacteria—a personal "food lab" in every shopper's pocket. Apps like "Smarter Shopping with " help consumers make smart shopping decisions and save money at the store. Features include a label translator, organic guide, smart substitutions tool and a shopping list generator. 
 
According to the NPD Group, 90 percent of U.S. consumers say they eat breakfast every day, but Lempert acknowledges the conversation is shifting to what foods are best to eat for breakfast. He suggests balanced breakfast options like egg white omelets, whole grain bread and Greek yogurt with fresh fruit. Consider new Egg Beaters Three Cheese or Egg Beaters Florentine as staples for achieving a satisfyingly nutritious breakfast. Made of real egg whites, Egg Beaters has more protein and fewer calories than most breakfast options made with shell eggs.
 
2013 will be a transitional year as on-package claims proliferate and confuse. He anticipates supermarkets taking on the role of gatekeeper and actually demanding proof and transparency of claims before they will permit products to be sold on their shelves. The role of retail dietitians will increase as their influence and education becomes more important to everyday buying decisions. Consumers are reading labels and selecting their foods more holistically based on all the "food factors" including taste, ingredients, source, nutritional composition, as well as who is making their food along with an understanding of impact on the environment.
 
The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates the cost of both beef and chicken will increase by at least 5 percent due to the 2012 drought and declining supply. As a result, Lempert anticipates a major shift in the nation's protein food supply away from meat-based proteins and shifting to meatless proteins like eggs, nut butters, tofu, beans and legumes. Lightlife, for example, offers quality vegetarian and vegan meals including veggie burgers, frozen entrees, Smart Dogs and more.
 
The National Resource Defense Council estimates 40 percent of food goes uneaten each month in the United States. Not surprisingly, the Eco Pulse Survey from the Shelton Group reports 39 percent of Americans feel the most "green guilt" for wasting food, almost double the number who feel guilty about not recycling. Because so many Americans are wasting food, Lempert recommends planning meals ahead of time, checking expiration dates at the store, opting for portion-controlled freshly frozen foods and creative innovative recipes to spice up leftover food. Consider sites like ReadySetEat, which offers quick and easy recipe ideas, along with several recipes for using leftovers.
 
Studies by the NPD Group show that nutrition and healthy eating habits are top meal-planning priorities for Boomers. A recent study by ConAgra Foods found that eating canned tomatoes provides the greatest source of antioxidants to Americans' diets – more than any other non-starchy vegetable. People who tend to eat low-fat diets rich in fruits and vegetables tend to have a decreased risk of cancer and heart disease. Boomers may want to consider adding food like Hunt's tomatoes to their cabinets to increase their intake of antioxidants. Because Boomers will control more than half the dollars spent on grocery foods by 2015, look for more heart-healthy antioxidant-rich foods including oily fish such as salmon, as well as green tea, sweet potatoes, dark leafy greens, popcorn, berries and whole-grains to take over supermarket shelves.

Related Articles

Food Research

US Organic Sales Post New Record of $43.3 Billion in 2015

20 May 2016 --- The booming US organic industry posted new records in 2015, with total organic product sales hitting a new benchmark of $43.3 billion, up a robust 11 percent from the previous year's record level and far outstripping the overall food market's growth rate of 3 percent, according to the Organic Trade Association's 2016 Organic Industry Survey.

Food Ingredients News

DuPont Presents New Bakery Opportunities with Alternative Carbs

17 May 2016 --- DuPont Nutrition & Health sets a healthy direction for Europe’s hard-pressed bread market with a new concept inspired by Nordic thin breads. Rich in healthy carbs, Nordic Light Thins targets consumers who are turning their back on traditional wheat bread.

Regulatory News

SPECIAL REPORT: TTIP Will Lead to “Economic Growth and Jobs” for The Food Industry But Time Could be Running Out on Striking a Deal

16 May 2016 --- US and European food companies have cited a number of reasons to champion The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) from benefiting the global economy to job creation but critics say the deal will lead to lower food safety standards across the EU while others believe TTIP might not see the light of day.

Food Ingredients News

Tesco Launches UK's First Avocado Spread as the Demand for Avocado Products Grows by 40%

11 May 2016 --- Tesco is launching avocado as a spread, as it looks to tap into the growing demand for the fruit variety.

Food Ingredients News

KEY INTERVIEW: Organic Leads the Natural Clean Label Trend that Consumers Seek

03 May 2016 --- The trend for natural, minimally processed foods shows no signs of abating, and with the growing organic sector leading the way in the trend for clear, short labeling of a multitude of foods, food producers are continually looking for ways to satisfy consumer demand for a more transparent food industry. Belgian supplier Meurens Natural has been at the forefront of the supply of organic cereal syrups for more than 20 years. Managing director Benedicte Meurens spoke to FoodIngredientsFirst about how Meurens Natural has grown with the industry and how its extensive experience is supporting today’s food manufacturers to satisfy consumer demands.

More Articles