Melting Pot Food Trends

Sep 25, 2002

Prepared Foods reports in its September 2002 issue that the American Culinary Federation conference held in July identified a number of consumer eating trends that will impact food purchases outside and inside the home. Included among these were:

  • “Retro-ethnic” Foods

  • “Healthy” Comfort Foods

  • “Satisfying” Vegetarian Foods

  • “Multi-ethnic” American Fusion Foods

“Retro-ethnic” Foods

Boomers are returning to their culinary roots with a greater interest in classic American and European dishes. The members of ACF say that “roast beef and fish & chips will share menus with truly American dishes such as ‘real’ turkey with mashed potatoes and dressing.”

“Healthy” Comfort Foods

American consumers want to have their cake and eat it too, literally. They’ve just decided that they’d like it in smaller portions or with healthier ingredients.

“Satisfying” Vegetarian Foods

Vegetarian foods are equated with being healthier and are finding their way onto even the menus of fast food operations. “Vegetable cookery is hot and shall remain a prominent trend in restaurants all over the country”, says Prepared Foods.

“Multi-ethnic” American Fusion Foods

Indian and other Asian foods, flavors and ingredients are hot. “Many chefs are now combining foods and flavors from two or more ethnic cuisines. Today’s customers readily accept exotic foods and flavors. And today’s chefs are pushing the culinary envelope by combining exotic cooking techniques, ingredients and flavors.”

Moderator’s Comment: What affect do the foods consumers
eat in restaurants have on their purchases for in-home meals?

New and/or ethnic food trends usually begin in restaurants
before making their way into American homes. That said, many amateur chefs are
not secure in their own cooking knowledge or in their access to exotic ingredients
to experiment at home. Sampling, education and product availability are key
factors in overcoming this. Stores having prepared foods that actually taste
authentic is a nice fall back in this case. We have to admit that we’re not
sure that America is ready to buy Palak Paneer (Indian spinach and cheese cubes)
prepared by in a supermarket, however. [George
Anderson – Moderator

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