Newswise — CHICAGO—The April 2015 issue of Food Technology magazine published by the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) features Contributing Editor A. Elizabeth Sloan’s insights on the top food trends for 2015. Sloan gathers data from a multitude of industry resources to come up with the following trends.

1. Fresh and Refrigerated Foods: Nearly nine in 10 adults feel that fresh foods are healthier, 80 percent feel that they are tastier, and 78 percent of consumers are making a strong effort to eat more fresh versus processed foods (Technomic, 2014; MSI, 2014). Shoppers are buying more fresh ingredients, up 10 percent versus just three years ago (FMI, 2014). 2. Eating for a Specific Lifestyle: Dramatic changes in lifestyle, eating patterns, and demographics are creating new rules for marketing and packaging and are motivating new food product purchases. Nearly half of all eating occasions are alone and the family meal continues to erode; only 27 percent of family meals include children (Hartman, 2013).3. Reasonable Snacking: The average number of in-between-meal snacks has grown from two per person per day in 2010 to almost three in 2014, and consumers are snacking throughout the whole day (Wyatt, 2014). Health is an important snack factor for half of adults (Technomic 2014). Refrigerated juices, smoothies, yogurt, nutrition bars, trail mixes, specialty nut butters and popcorn were among the fastest growing healthy snacks in 2013 (Wyatt, 2014). This graphic show snack consumption by day part. 4. Discovering New Cuisines: More sophisticated food experiences characterized by unique flavors and culinary narratives is another trend on the rise (Hartman, 2013). Gourmet products such as oils, cheeses, and baked goods are purchased by more than 40 percent (SFA, 2014). Pickling, fermenting, fire-roasting, and smoking are all hot food preparation trends for 2015 (NRA, 2014), as well as global flavors like harissa, aji, gochujang, yuzu, togarashi, peri peri, and za’atar (Datassential, 2014).

5. Exclusion Diets: Consumers are continuing to experiment with alternative eating styles. In 2014 one-third of adults tried a specialty regiment like gluten-free, lactose-free, raw/living foods, dairy-free or a juice cleanse (FMI, 2014). Three-quarters of U.S. households prepare meat alternatives for dinner with eggs being the most popular meat alternative (FMI, 2015). Food restrictions, intolerances, or allergies have a good deal of influence on food choices for one in 10 shoppers and 17 percent are somewhat influenced (Packaged Facts, 2014).

6. Breakfast: Most people are eating breakfast five times a week. Having more energy and mental focus, helping maintain weight and feeling full until lunchtime are all things that motivate non-breakfast eaters to dig into breakfast (IFIC, 2011). Ethnic flavors for breakfast are trending as well such as chipotle, manchego, chutney, Cotija, and chimichurri (Datessential, 2015).

7. Rethinking Natural: In 2014, 29 percent of consumers bought more local foods and beverages, 28 percent bought more organic products, 25 percent more natural foods, and 23 percent more non-GMO offerings (Hartman, 2014).

8. Whole Food Nutrition: In 2014, fiber/whole grain were the most sought after food ingredients (IFIC, 2014). Non-wheat flours (peanut, millet, barley, and rice) were among the hot culinary ingredients in 2015, followed by ethnic flours like fufu, teff and cassava (NRA, 2014). More than one third of the best-selling new foods/beverages in 2013 carried a real fruit or fruit health benefits claim, and 14 percent of the best-sellers touted a vegetable health benefit (IRI, 2014).

9. ‘Cook-Less’ Meals: More than a quarter of consumers say they are preparing more meals in less than 20 minutes than they did five years ago. One-pot meals were up 29 percent, and meals using marinated meats and poultry were up 21 percent (FMI, 2015). Packaged meals and kits, oven baking, and take-and-bake products are all popular amongst consumers.

10. Diet Watching: Over half of adults are watching their diets; 66 percent for general health reasons, 55 percent to lose weight, 40 percent to limit fat, sugar, sodium, 38 percent to prevent future medical issues, 37 percent to maintain weight, 22 percent to treat a current medical condition, and 10 percent for a real or perceived food allergy or intolerance (Packaged Facts, 2014).

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