All-New Supermarket Trends
We give you the lowdown on what you'll be eating, buying and believing in the coming year, straight from the mouths of top trend forecasters and supermarket experts.
Out: researching dietary concerns at home
In: using smartphone apps in stores
If you follow a special diet, a trip to the supermarket usually starts with advance planning and research. But the growing number of smartphone apps will make grocery shopping infinitely easier, predicts Jeff Weidauer of retail marketing-services firm Vestcom. You'll be able to scan the barcode of a food item and check if it contains nuts, or confirm that it's vegan or certified gluten-free. "Many will also include user reviews, so you can find out on the spot what people think," he adds.
Out: less plastic
In: no plastic
Sustainable options like cardboard tetra packaging and compostable pouches are projected to swell 40 percent over the next five years; Coca-Cola has already introduced a plastic-free bottle made partly from sugarcane. "A lot of companies will abandon plastic bottles entirely," trend forecaster Faith Popcorn predicts.
Out: Americanized ethnic cuisines
In: authentic ethnic cuisines
Thanks to the popularity of food TV, consumers (especially Gen Xers and Yers) are hungry for bold new flavors -- and they want the real thing, says Craig Julius, senior culinologist with Sterling Culinary Inc. "Indian is going to be the next big trend in packaged foods," retail foodindustry consultant Michael Sansolo predicts. The timing couldn't be better for the mostly vegetarian cuisine, considering the popularity of the flexitarian diet. Plus, it's usually low-fat and packed with immune-boosting spices like coriander, cumin and turmeric, says Marisa Moore of the American Dietetic Association.
Out: nutritionally boosted foods
In: minimally processed foods
Last year food manufacturers added protein, omega-3s and other nutritional enhancements to pretty much everything (even water!). But now there's a push to get back to basics. "People are avoiding processed foods made with unrecognizable ingredients," says Lynn Dornblaser, new-product analyst at Mintel International Group. In response, companies will start using more real foods and fewer lab-created nutrients -- and they'll tout these changes on the labels, predicts culinary trends expert Suzy Badaracco of Culinary Tides.
Out: no-frills supermarkets
In: supermarkets with VIP perks
Because of increasing competition from online retailers, warehouse clubs and convenience stores, supermarkets will need new ways to entice shoppers. Pretty soon your local grocery store will tempt you with spa treatments and consultations with in-store nutritionists, Sansolo says. (Already, big chains like Wegmans and Kroger have introduced upscale restaurants and bars.) "Most of us are busy and stressed, so an enjoyable shopping experience will be a huge draw," he says.
There's no shortage of breakfast cereals, fruit snacks and other foods labeled "all-natural." But our interest in these products is dwindling as we learn the claim is unregulated. Food manufacturers are adopting a new buzzword: "artisan." Because it implies "handmade," the claim appeals to shoppers who seek out quality and want to support small producers, explains Kara Nielsen, trendologist with the Center for Culinary Development. Of course, big brands will jump on the bandwagon, too, plastering "artisan" on mass-produced products. They'll even use minimalist or retro designs to evoke a sense of nostalgia, packaging expert Jonathan Asher says.