Three food trends reflect the way people eat
From the smallest convenience to wide-ranging health concerns, the food industry impacts how consumers live their lives. Here are three timely examples.
A new Hyundai commercial asks the question: Since when was leaving work on time an act of courage? And the audience knows exactly what they are talking about. Our busy, time-crunched lifestyles have been talked about for so long that they are the new normal.
To serve this modern, hectic world the food industry has made many products a lot more convenient. Now the package industry is making a contribution to the carry-a-meal-in-your-purse set. It’s a flexible pouch with a spout – great on-the-go packaging for squeezable food items like yogurt, applesauce and baby food. Just tilt your head back and squeeze. Voila. Nourishment. Now it’s even easier to eat standing up or while driving – if you’re into that sort of thing.
For most of us the concept of food goes well beyond being just basic nourishment. It’s a social thing. It’s an occasion that has often taken one of two forms: the dinner party or a restaurant meal. Both have their advantages. The dinner party is more intimate. But the cooking – and cleanup – are taken care of at a restaurant.
Luckily, a new breed of restaurant offers the best of both worlds. Dinner-party restaurants, like Lazy Bear in San Francisco combine the cooking space with a communal seating area. Dinner is served in 13 courses and presented in a way designed to get individuals to interact with their food – and each other. Guests are also encouraged to come up to the kitchen between courses. After all, has there ever been a dinner party where people don’t all end up in the kitchen?
In addition to how and where they are eating, consumers are also very concerned about what they are eating. This has given rise to a number of movements (the local food movement, the ugly food movement, etc.) that address consumer concerns over where their food came from, how it was raised and how healthy it is.
Worried about the things they don’t know about the food they’re eating, consumers have heightened their focus on antibiotics. Food and nutrition magazine Eating Well maintains that 80% of all antibiotics sold in America are used on farm animals. The fear is that antibiotics entering the food chain may be creating strains of antibiotic-resistant bacteria or so called ‘superbugs’ that could impact human health.
A recent Consumer Union study delves into the policies of 25 leading restaurant chains regarding the use of antibiotics in the food they serve. All but five of them got failing grades. This news is disconcerting. But it is also an opportunity for food producers who recognized the issue early and have taken the steps to convert their operations away from antibiotics use. These visionary companies can now reap the benefits of making consumers feel good about what they’re eating.