Ever wonder what your Baby Boomer cohorts are eating? The food industry is certainly interested. With Baby Boomers making up 30 percent of the U.S. population -- and controlling nearly $2 trillion in annual spending power -- food manufacturers and food service establishments are keeping track and responding to the culinary wants and needs of the 45 to 64-year-olds. Here are the food trends, as reported in a recent issue of Prepared Foods.
Flavor, flavor, flavor
A loss in smell and taste that naturally occurs with age is driving Boomers to seek out foods with lots of flavor. Familiar dishes can become banal and mildly flavored meals may taste flat. The food service industry is consciously adding stronger or different flavors to products and meals to keep the Boomer palate piqued.
Reinventing the classics
Regardless of age, most people have childhood meals or classic dishes they consider comfort food. A trend with Boomers is reinventing comfort food or the classics. For example, adding horseradish to classic coleslaw, lots of fresh herbs to soups, chili powder to brownies, or substituting acai berry juice for the cranberry juice in the Cape Codder or Cosmopolitan.
Eating for health
Baby Boomers are savvier about health than their parents and know that diet plays a large role in staying healthy. Boomers are concerned about heart health, blood sugar maintenance, cognitive decline, joint and bone integrity and looking good. Boomers strive for more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, healthy fats and lean proteins. And they also carefully read labels and menus. Boomers are diet savvy but they also want foods to be tasty and indulgent. Boomers are looking for functional foods -- foods with added health benefits -- and super foods -- foods that are the highest in nutrients. Boomers are also more likely to eat as well as cook with organic, local and sustainable foods.
Convenience in the kitchen is key for Baby Boomers. At home, Boomers want food products to save them time -- food doesn’t have to be instant but it does need to be easier to prepare. Eating out is also convenient (Boomers spend about 45 percent of their total food budget eating out), and Boomers are bypassing fast food joints for more upscale food establishments. Convenience and quality are important.
Baby Boomer Top 10’s
The NPD Group, a market research group, reports the following top 10 Baby Boomer foods for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks;
The Top 10 In-Home Breakfast Foods: all family cereal, eggs/omelettes, pre-sweetened cereal, bread, hot cereal, bagels, pancakes, waffles, fruit, bacon, and sausage.
The Top 10 Lunch Choices: soup, ham sandwich, poultry sandwich, pizza, hot dogs, lunchmeat sandwich, chicken, PB&J sandwich, bound salad sandwich, cheese sandwich, and fruit.
The Top 10 Dinner Dishes: chicken, pizza, spaghetti, soup, steak, frozen entrees, potatoes, ground beef dish, pork chops, burgers, and finfish.
The Top 10 Snacks: fruit, candy/gum, cookies, ice cream, chips, popcorn, cakes, nuts/seeds, crackers, and frozen novelties.
Expect the food industry to stay tuned in to your culinary desires. They are quite aware of the spending power you wield and the influence you have on younger generations.
By MIchele Thompson, MS
Michele Thompson, MS is a health and fitness expert, personal chef, and contributing food and wellness editor for SheKnows.com and ChefMom.com. You can email her at Michele.Thompson@sheknows.com.