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HOW TO IDENTIFY FOOD TRENDS

White Paper
ulinary Trend Tracking Series
HOW TO IDENTIFY FOOD TRENDS
FROM FOOD TRENDS TO FOOD OPPORTUNITIES. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4
GOING BEYOND MEDIA TO FIND FOOD OPPORTUNITIES . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5
USING RETAIL AND MENU TREND DATA TO VET FOOD TRENDS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6
Retail data . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6
Menu data . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6
TAPPING EXPERTISE FROM EXPERTS INTERNALLY AND EXTERNALLY . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7
Chefs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7
Experts . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8
Internal validation of trends . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8
TAPPING CONSUMER DRIVERS TO IDENTIFY FOOD OPPORTUNITIES. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9
FOOD OPPORTUNITIES IN ACTION . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10
CONCLUSION . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10
CULINARY TREND TRACKING SERIES . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11
HOW TO IDENTIFY FOOD TRENDS
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FROM FOOD TRENDS TO FOOD OPPORTUNITIES
Food retailers, producers and foodservice organizations are diving deeper into understanding how food trends relate
to their businesses. While many companies approach the matter cautiously, others react to food trends prematurely in
order to avoid being characterized as followers or falling behind in a particular market or food category. However, those
that selectively follow food trends to identify opportunities using data-driven techniques can successfully identify trends
that have the most upside potential for their businesses.
Over the past few years, we have witnessed several supposedly big trends that were expected to produce great
opportunities, but theyve ended up being very short-lived and overhyped. Food companies, like restaurant chains,
would be wise to spend human and fnancial resources on food opportunities, rather than just trends. This opportunity-
scape is engineered by analyzing data, consulting industry experts, monitoring media, using internal expertise and
decision-making to identify a trend and understand consumer behavior.
This white paper addresses researcher roles within food organizations that are tasked with vetting trends to uncover
big opportunities. These roles can range from specifc research & development professionals to marketing managers
to senior-level executives. For our purposes, well refer to food trends as both food and culinary trends. Traditionally,
a food trend would specifcally symbolize a food or ingredient that is gaining attention and momentum in both the
media and in the food marketplaces, both foodservice- and food retailer-based. Conversely, a culinary trend typically
represents the selection, preparation or presentation technique of a food that is gaining attention in foodservice circles,
mainly restaurants.
For example, some culinary trends that are currently in circulation are fermenting and charring. A food trend would
represent something like the growing penetration of a fruit or a grain in the food retailing and restaurant/foodservice
sectors. Quinoa, a pseudo-grain seed, is a great example of a food trend that emerged as an opportunity for a variety
of food manufacturers and restaurateurs. Food companies, like manufacturers, retailers and foodservice organizations
that produce and/or sell products nationally, rely on such trends to translate into business and revenue-generating
opportunities on a wide scale.
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Data and analysis play an important role in plucking food opportunities from food trends. A data-driven approach is
useful for looking at trends, and well discuss that more in length. Often, however, analysis of data is not enough to
identify opportunistic food trends. One needs a balanced understanding of the consumer marketplace and how current
consumer behaviors can help cement the identifcation of food opportunities.
Now, lets take a look at the components of successful food-trend vetting.
GOING BEYOND MEDIA TO FIND FOOD OPPORTUNITIES
Media mentions are great because they can help represent and pinpoint where food trends are emerging and evolving.
But, not every food trend is linear to production, so waiting for things to reach critical mass in major newspapers,
food magazines and blogs may mean missing out on some very good opportunities. While mainstream or food media
can help portray the penetration of a trend, it can also overhype a trend if its own analysis isnt comprehensive and
representative of a cross-section of the market that it references.
For example, assuming most proftable food trends are national, if a major regional newspaper discusses a food trend
in a regional context, the trend may be specifc to the preferences of that local marketplace. Therefore, skimming the
article could incorrectly cause someone to infer that the food trend is, in fact, a national trend. Likewise, micro, or local,
trends arent well-represented by national trend-spotting efforts of major news sources and food publications.
For these reasons, its important to keep an eye on media, being very selective of the food trend topic that is culled from
it and juxtaposing that against other data points and sources, like the ones weve discussed. A deep dive into media
may get you the latest and greatest, but it can also take you down the path of exotic and esoteric, which refect micro-
trends that arent easily replicated and that may not be accepted by consumers on a sizable scale.
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USING RETAIL AND MENU TREND DATA TO VET FOOD TRENDS
Data sources can help provide the substance behind food trends to size the potential reward for following or adopting a
trend. The what and why are determined by the nature of your own food business and the context of your research.
While a particular data source can be the best for a certain application or project, that same source can have less
weight and relevance for another project. Lets look at some data types and sources.
Retail data
IRIs MarketView onDemand database gives industry analysts and executives a way to measure sales activity for food
categories and subcategories and track this on a historical basis. Many forward-looking models can be developed by
performing a trend analysis of the sales dollar and sales unit data that is aggregated in IRI. By using IRI, research-
minded professionals can analyze sales trends of analogous food categories similar to the ones a food company is
considering or look at the movement of that respective category.
SPINS, a trade organization advocating for the independent, natural sector, offers another useful tool, SPINScan data,
which provides transactional sales data for the independent (non-mass market) natural, organic and specialty products
segment. This data is typically provided at the category level and can provide insight into category movement.
Menu data
Companies, such as Datassential or Food Genius, have access to menu penetration, or menu transactional data, which
can give researchers, analysts and executives more insight into the foods that are appearing on menus. Food Genius
can also provide location details on menus that are selling well in certain areas. Food Genius cross-tabulates data with
pricing and location-specifc attributes, which can add value to research on pricing, toppings, trends or menu examples
in a target regional area.
Menu penetration has been a good signal of how a food items popularity is increasing or decreasing within the
restaurant industry. Menu penetration and menu mix are good data points in measuring the relevancy of food and
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beverages in restaurants. However, keep in mind that this type of data capture is limited in most cases to solely
restaurants, missing its relevancy to food trucks, contract food establishments and foodservice within retailing.
Missing out on these other menus shouldnt be a critical factor though. Prepared meals offerings in supermarkets or
food served in sporting venues, for example, are part of trends that should already be refected in restaurants and,
therefore, that essence is already captured by menu databases.
TAPPING EXPERTISE FROM EXPERTS INTERNALLY AND EXTERNALLY
Chefs
Chefs are excellent resources to an organization, peer group and the food industry as a whole. Chefs who have built
successful restaurant franchises, earned the public esteem and have several happy investors are typically a sub-set
that should be closely watched. Taking their art in balance with what the customer will accept and driving business and
building sales, chefs are the ambassadors of culinary trends as a business.
Some superstar chefs will take to a unique sophistication and unique craftsmanship in developing their dishes.
Sometimes, thats not something consumers may follow or be able to afford, so there should be some caution when
strictly following the most famous chefs outside of a data-driven context.
R&D chefs and chef associations are another good source to track and can help provide frst indications of where
food is going. For example, in partnership with Sosland Publishing Company, the RCA (Research Chefs Association)
publishes a magazine called Culinology. These types of publications, in addition to conferences, can provide insight into
trends that are in experimentation throughout different markets.
Chefs also provide a unique perspective and validate many trends that may be overhyped. The Food Network, and
popular food shows on cable and streaming networks, host chefs that either cook or discuss emerging trends seen
within their peer groups. This can also be tapped. Chef discussion and experimentation on TV shows can play a
different role than what one sees through the media hyping that can occur on talk shows or in news channels.
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Experts
As a food researcher dives into the data and trend-scaping, they eventually become experts themselves. Other
researchers, research frms and analysts are also important partners in the trend-vetting process. There are numerous
consultancy experts working one-on-one with food retailers and foodservice organizations to develop and experiment
with trends. Analysts also research and follow food organizations to conduct primary and secondary research of food
marketplace opportunities. These individuals become great sources for identifying opportunities through their reporting
and consultation, when applicable.
Internal validation of trends
Within an organization, the internal validation of a trend is also very important. For a food company that is looking to
build new products based on the business opportunity of a food or culinary trend, key stakeholders can help defne, vet
and advocate for that opportunity.
Sourcing concerns are defnitely important. Food companies will need to weigh whether a food trend can be adopted.
Can the ingredients to develop such a product be sourced or harvested with regularity and with a small chance of
disruption? What are the costs to produce vs. the proft that can be derived from the product? The sheer numbers will
drive economies of scale.
A restaurant company can adopt a trend if the majority of its units can sell and ramp up the business for a particular
menu item. And, before investing in production, a manufacturer is also likely to look at scale and market size to
understand how to achieve optimal ingredient pricing and other sourcing considerations like transportation, delivery and
territory.
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TAPPING CONSUMER DRIVERS TO IDENTIFY FOOD OPPORTUNITIES
There are numerous infuences that impact customers purchasing decisions. Many of these may be based on
needs, diet, alignment with a healthy lifestyle, illness treatment, mitigation or prevention and deeper persuasions like
demographic infuence, affuence, age, gender and race/ethnicity.
There are also what we call drivers, which are discussed more in depth in the new Culinary Trend Tracking Series
(CuTTS) published by Packaged Facts. Major drivers are mega-infuences that are creating inertia for consumers to
adopt trends. Some major drivers in the consumer market that CuTTS has identifed are health & wellness, authenticity
of foods and purposeful eating. Health & wellness drivers propel consumers to look at foods they consider are better for
them. These types of foods may have a higher nutritional value or may contain lower caloric content.
Authenticity drives consumers to purchase foods that are genuine to their heritage and have an easily-communicated
tie to a regional food or technique. Purposeful eating, on the other hand, encompasses eating that prioritizes political,
religious and personal belief systems, establishing what foods should and shouldnt be consumed. These, along with
other major drivers, are currently weighing heavily on the success of food trends and food products.
In terms of actually validating consumer drivers, surveys are important as they keep both quantity and quality top
of mind. Ensuring that there is a suffcient survey sample size and that the sample or consumer panel represents a
good cross-section of the demographic youre looking at is highly meaningful. In deciding whether to outsource or run
surveys internally, keep quantity and quality prioritized and use the discovery of survey responses to better understand
or breakdown consumers drivers being validated.
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FOOD OPPORTUNITIES IN ACTION
CuTTS recently vetted select Andean Superfoods, including pichuberry, quinoa and amaranth. Looking at retail product
category data and observing analogous food items on restaurant menus, CuTTS was able to then look at these foods
penetration in the media, discuss their application with experts and also analyze its own proprietary surveys and
data within Experian Marketing Services Simmons Consumer to discern whether these food trends were truly food
opportunities.
Additionally, juxtaposing these data points and fndings with our own understanding of current consumer drivers and
the marketplace helped to determine these foods potential for businesses. Pichuberry, or Physalis Peruviana, is one of
the foods that is continuing to gain ground in the retail marketplace and will emerge on menus in a big way in the short-
term.
This superfruit is already gaining notable mentions from experts and may translate into expanded business
opportunities for those who look at it as more than a trend.
CONCLUSION
Food opportunities can be a select subset of food trends. Leveraging data, the expertise of those in the know and the
support of those who are already trend-vetting play a signifcant role in discerning food opportunities. There are those
that advocate for breaking down trends into categories or assigning rankings, which is helpful in identifying the potential
of a trend. In the end, the vetting process is what will help hone in on food trends that have big business opportunity.
The vetting process, therefore, is all about using data tools, looking at and validating consumer drivers and tapping
the expertise of resources like chefs and local experts. All of these elements are important in differentiating the
opportunities in select food trends and taking advantage of those for the success of your business.

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The new Culinary Trend Tracking Series from CuTTS provides the essential tool kit for food manufacturers, retailers
and food service organizations, including restaurant chains, to identify food opportunities found in todays food
trend landscape. You may have the ingredients. We bring you the analysis, insights and perspectives for a
successful recipe in food development.
This new bi-monthly report series supports the menu and food manufacturing innovation of executives, strategists,
chefs, and food research professionals in R&D/product development, market and consumer insights, brand
management, and trade and consumer marketing.
The Culinary Trend Tracking Series helps customers:
Identify future opportunities in menu offerings and packaged foods & beverages
Leverage the long-term drivers that are truly propelling food industry trends
Track trends in fne dining restaurant, foodservice, retail prepared foods, and packaged foods
Match emerging trends to their organizations ongoing menu and product development
To learn more about what CuTTS does to help food industry innovators turn food trends into opportunities, contact our
author and research expert Rick Zambrano at rzambrano@marketresearch.com.
ulinary Trend Tracking Series