A. Elizabeth Sloan

Americans have a new recipe for home cooking—fast, fresh, and just heat and eat! Armed with a new set of food product criteria and experienced in restaurant fare, Americans are marching back into the kitchen. In 2002, 71% of meal preparers said they made last night’s meal at home—an increase of 7% in just one year—and one-third used convenience foods, up 8%. Conversely, fewer people said they ate at a restaurant or brought take-out food home (MSI, 2003a).

Fig.4—Morey’s Seafood is making it easy for consumers to cook salmon and other fish more easily by marinating and adding a pop-up timer and a disposable tray suitable for broiling, baking, or microwaving.

Consumer restaurant spending in 2002 grew…

Fig.1—Consumers are open to a variety of new food concepts, as long as they provide convenience first. From IRI (2002a).

Fig.2—Homemade main dishes are being replaced by ready-to-eat and frozen. From NPD (2003c).

Fig.3—Convenience dinner solutions grew an average of 385 million meals/year during the past seven years, with Americans buying an average of 1.4 more meals/year. From IRI (2002b).

Fig.7—Amé exemplifies the trend to sophisticated sparkling beverages, with its premium blend of natural fruit, herbal extracts, and sparkling spring water.

Table1—Ethnic foods popular in household. From MSI (2002a)

Fig. 8—Thai Kitchen’s line of instant rice noodle bowls are one illustration of the prepared food category that currently has the most growth potential: Asian.

Fig. 9—Substituting specialty cheeses for Cheddar in such products as quesadillas is taking Mexican fare to new heights. Photo courtesy of DMI.

Fig.10—Frito-Lay’s Go Snacks are writing yet another chapter in the book of on-the-go convenience.

Fig. 11—Children’s nutrition is one of the fastest-growing nutraceutical markets, and the children’s health segment, including weight, cholesterol, and blood pressure is growing even faster. TrendSense, which predicts market timing, indicates a large and growing body of scientific information. Commercialization indicates the mass market trend.

Fig. 12—KidSport Bar is one of the first child-directed sports bars designed with the nutritional requirements of active kids in mind.

Fig.13—Eight out of ten shoppers are trying to prevent a condition with food purchases; heart disease tops the list. From NMI (2003).

Fig. 14—A variety of gourmet meals are offered in the Vegetarian Plus low-fat, high-protein line of vegetarian “meats” and “fish.”

Fig.16—Snacks are finding an important market as main meal items or accompaniments. From IRI (2002a).

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