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Generation-specific trends to dictate future eating patterns: NPD report

By Caroline Scott-Thomas , 27-Apr-2011

Canadian food makers need to better understand generational trends in order to forecast which categories are likely to thrive or struggle over the next decade, according to a new report from The NPD Group.

The market research organization said in its latest report, A Look into The Future of Eating – Canadian Marketplace, that eating patterns over the coming ten years will be influenced by generational preferences, as well as differences in eating habits that come with age. For instance, it is likely that Canadian Baby Boomers will seek out more convenience foods, while Canadians currently aged 18 and younger will skip more meals, NPD said.

Food and beverage industry analyst with the NPD Group Joel Gregoire said: “As different generations age, corresponding changes in their life stage will have a major impact on what and how they eat. Understanding the forecast, along with the consumer groups who drive the forecast, will enable food and beverage companies to develop long-range plans in terms of their overall product portfolio, positioning and innovation, and take actions now to impact the future."

Two of the top food groups forecast to gain in importance in Canada are salty and savory snacks, and easy meals such as yogurt and snack bars, NPD said. Two of the food groups expected to lose importance are heat and eat breakfasts and combination dishes.

The market research organization has conducted similar research looking at US generational eating patterns and said it has found differences between Canadian and US trends. For example, it said that while consumption of heat and eat breakfast foods is expected to decline in Canada, consumption in this category is expected to increase by 13.4 percent in the United States over the next several years.

Other market researchers have also highlighted the importance of understanding generation-specific trends in order to better forecast future food industry trends. Most recently, Packaged Facts pinpointed Americans aged 50-plus as presenting major opportunities for food manufacturers as they look to whole, natural and organic foods in particular as an important component of a healthy lifestyle.

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