Freshness reshapes America's food culture paradigm
30/05/2012 - Manufacturers, restaurateurs and food producers must respond to how freshness trends are playing a new role in America's food choices, according to the Freshness: Culinary Trend Mapping Report by market research publisher Packaged Facts.
Kimberly Egan, CEO of CCD Innovation - the strategic food and beverage agency that co-researched the study - advises that it's not just about unwilted greens and sell-by dates anymore; it's a mentality that is permeating our food culture and changing the paradigm.
"Today's consumers are redefining freshness with renewed excitement, valuing it as a marker of quality and looking for it in every corner of the food world."
And they are finding it; consumers' access to fresh foods now ranges to grocery departments and retail channels far beyond the produce aisle.
Why freshness has become so pivotal is easy to understand. Freshness signifies healthfulness and good nutrition, artisan quality and full flavor.
Fresh food typically has a known source that one can trace to better understand how our food got to our plate, and who was responsible for that journey. Fresh can be tender and juicy, firm and ripe, rich, delicious and colorful - all attributes of a new standard that consumers increasingly insist upon.
In the latest issue of the serial Culinary Trend Mapping Report, the following freshness trends in food and food service are situated along CCD Innovation's proprietary five-stage Trend Mapping®. Stage 1 signifies that a trend is just gaining traction among creative chefs and adventurous diners, while Stage 5 indicates complete absorption into the mainstream and presence on quick service menus and grocery store shelves.
Peruvian Ceviche (Stage 1) has long been a staple of Peru and many Latin American cuisines. With chefs now adding unique herbs and vegetables, it has become a holistically fresh experience.
More and more wine drinkers, winemakers and restaurateurs have opened their eyes and their bars to the practice of serving wine on tap (Stage 1).
Fresh cheeses (Stage 2) are gaining traction in both home and restaurant kitchens. Fresh cheeses are typically more affordable but have a shorter shelf life lending them to day-to-day applications.
When you can't make it to a farmers market, bring the market to you. That's the basic concept behind Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) programs (Stage 2), which are now expanding into new sectors of the food industry.
Fresh fruit in entree salads falls into Stage 3. The "bistro salad" got glamorous in the late 20th century, and the trend has accelerated in this century as the range of foods being featured in salads, especially fruit, has grown exponentially.
Natural grocery prepared foods (Stage 4) trends and choices made by natural grocery stores are setting a new standard for mainstream retailers to continue providing fresh, healthful, on-trend eating options for diners at all hours of the day.
Regular milk (Stage 5) remains a supremely fresh and popular product, now with all kinds of styles and forms bursting from the dairy case - including new 'chuggable' flavored milks, raw milk, and goat milk.
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