Shift Your Thinking on These 5 Food Trends

Trends in food and agriculture come and go. Whether it’s new consumer language or buying habit trends like Hello Fresh and Blue apron, it’s safe to say that food has never been as trendy as it was in 2017. Last month at the Executive Women in Agriculture conference, Nicole Widmar, an agriculture economist from Purdue University discussed five food trends that we should start thinking about differently.   

Niche Marketing: When you think about a niche market what words come to mind? Small, organic, local, maybe even obscure. According to Widmar, new research shows local food, which used to be considered niche, is now a mainstream consumer desire.

“I think we need to think about how we’re labeling these markets,” she says. “We don’t have a box, but more of a continuum. I don’t think it’s as black and white as what we’ve said in the past.”

Millennial Buying Behavior: Not all trends are related to age. For example Widmar’s research demonstrates that there aren’t necessarily strong correlations between age and purchasing dairy products from a farm that treats employees well. Instead, she sees other correlations associated with those kind of purchase preferences. For example: people who volunteer a lot care about how employees on farms are treated.

“I can find some evidence that younger age categories care about animal welfare,” she says.  

Food As An Experience: It’s evident by the number of “you pick” fruit and vegetable farms in the country that food as an experience has seen a resurgence. Food is at a unique place right now, Widmar explains, “I either want it delivered via UPS pre-chopped or I want to pick it myself.”

She explains that part of the reason behind this phenomenon is the movement toward minimalism. A big part of that trend is moving away from things and toward experiences in natural environments. “But we aren’t good at that,” she says adding that AgriTourism is a perfect inbetween for consumers. They can go to the farm and pick out a pumpkin that you physically picked for them, she jokes.

The bottom line according to Widmar, is that people are interested in farming and want to know more. “It doesn’t mean they understand, just that they are interested,” she says.

The Intersection of Health and Food:

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