By Andrée Kosak
There really does seem to be a shift in the way that people are eating. Health seems to have become a concern when it comes to menu and food choices. For the first time in decades Trumps Catering is faced with daily menu adjustments for guests with dietary restrictions. Gluten-free, lactose intolerant, vegetarian, pescatarian, and even vegan are just a few of the requests that we get when finalizing menus. By the way, pescatarians don’t eat meat, but do eat fish – I did have to look it up. This “trend” doesn’t seem to be going anywhere so I did a little bit of research online and found some pretty interesting facts about the 2017 trends in food.
I recently read a fascinating article about a California dairy farmer that is converting his land to almond groves so he can produce almond milk instead of cow’s milk. What? Why? Consumers are switching over to plant based milks to avoid dairy allergies, growth hormones, antibiotics and animal fat. Fact: since 1970 Americans consume 37% less dairy and in the past year alone, consumption of low-fat milk plummeted 13%.
I also learned, and am not surprised to hear, that fast food sales are down nationally. It appears that people are trying to use or learn kitchen skills. Haven’t you noticed the 1 minute quick videos for food preparation on Facebook? Those fascinate me. If only you could create a meal in 1 minute … right? The other new trend is the assembled boxes delivered to you with cooking instructions, like Blue Apron or Purple Carrot, which are just a couple of the companies that are growing like crazy. Tom Brady has even put his name behind the Purple Carrot. Then there are the hundreds of YouTube instructional videos on how to prepare fresh food at home. And finally, there are dozens of smartphone apps such as Yummly or All Recipes with hundreds, if not thousands, of recipes. Of course, as a caterer, I cook, so I’m happy to have so many resources.
Another new trend: people are trying to cut down on the amount of meat they are consuming. I’m sure you’ve heard of meatless Mondays? There are now even meatless meats available in the grocery store, found in the health food section. There, you will find meatless ground beef crumbles to put in your pasta, hamburgers made with black beans and breaded chicken cutlets made with soy products… all designed to taste like meat.
Reading and understanding food labeling is a new skill and consumers are paying a little more attention to what they’re putting into their bodies. New food vocabulary is developing, which includes words such as sustainability, GMO’s, environmentally conscious, animal friendly, health-conscious, micro brand, plant-based – I could go on and on.
People are not eating less; they are choosing the brands that mirror their needs and values. The younger, smarter “millennial” generation have been shaped by the recession and terrorism and as a result are willing to work hard for a stable future. They are financially cautious and demand good value from the foods they consume in and out of their homes. They hate corporate greed, don’t trust brands and demand transparency. Now that’s a shift.
What does this mean for me as a caterer? Well, I think people still like their mac & cheese but they’re just as likely to order a Mediterranean salad station with fresh baked focaccia breads and fresh marinated vegetables. They will actually be interested in where our ingredients come from, more than ever before in the past. They’re ordering hand squeezed lemonade and forgoing soft drinks and they are asking for local artisan beers and coffees.
Yes there’s a shift… a trend… I kind of like it. It makes my job rather interesting.