- Millennials and their individualized dietary preferences are changing the evening mealtime routine, according to a presentation Baking Business covered last week at the Winter Fancy Food Show by Dave Donnan, senior partner at A.T. Kearney.
- Families used to regularly gather for dinner and everyone would eat whatever was put on the table. Now 62% of U.S. households are composed of single people or couples, so that is no longer a common scenario, Donnan said.
- "That has changed the dynamic of how we make food, and in addition to this it’s just not one meal anymore because even if I have more than one person at the table, somebody will be gluten-free, another will be a vegan, and then someone will be paleo, and someone is trying to be keto. Each one of those different menu options is causing more complexity to our meals," Donnan said at the event.
Today's specialty diets and preferences have shifted more than dining routines. They have also impacted food companies by changing the types of products manufactured, the ingredients included, the amount of a product in a package and even how they're being delivered to consumers.
Because of the increasingly popular ketogenic trend, food companies have been introducing products to comply with low-carb diets. Dang Foods has debuted the keto-friendly Dang Bar, which is high in fat, low in carbs and sweetened with stevia extract. Other companies have launched similar products, including keto bars, medium-chain triglyceride oil powders and protein powders. There are even online food delivery services — Factor 75, Ice Age Meals, Keto Fridge and Kettlebell Kitchen — that provide fresh keto-compliant meals. Retailers are getting into the specialty diet trend as well. Thrive Market now organizes its private-label keto products online for easy reference.
Other shifts include more gluten-free and vegan food products, items specifically designed for functional purposes and meal kits catering to a wide array of different diets. HelloFresh has expanded its meal kits to appeal to consumers following keto and organic diets, and Baking Business reported that the company has experienced "very strong demand" for them.
These trends appear to be here to stay, given the number of people who say they are following specialty diets. According to the 13th annual Food & Health Survey released last spring by the International Food Information Council Foundation, 36% of U.S. adults are on some type of specific diet — whether it's Whole30, paleo, gluten-free, keto or another regimen. The millennial influence was also clear in last year's IFIC survey, with 45% of consumers between the ages of 18 and 34 being the most likely to take up a certain diet (36%). Those aged 65 and older were less likely to do so (28%).
The demographic and dietary shifts and their influence on dining patterns present marketing and partnership opportunities for more food manufacturers. Strauss Foods recently teamed with CrossFit to sell grass-fed beef and free-range chicken through subscription boxes. And natural and organic meat brand Applegate partnered with Whole30 so a special dietary seal of approval appears on some of the brand's products. More companies could be looking to partnerships in the future as these diets continue to dominate the market.