This is a guest blog from Mike Ryan. 

Indian food now surpasses Chinese food in popularity two-to-one in the U.S. and has secured a new generation of health-conscious and adventurous consumers. This shift can be attributed to the cuisine’s supply of exotic flavors and the growing popularity of all things Indian.

Nutrition education has become a tool that has empowered young consumers to make their own healthy choices. Y-Pulse, a division of Olson Communications based in Chicago, was formed 10 years ago to conduct surveys, interviews and roundtable discussions to reveal the evolution of foodservice trends in the education segment. “In K-12 schools, lunch has become a learning lab empowering young consumers with the knowledge they need to make mindful nutritious choices,” the company says. “Ninety-six percent of school foodservice directors consider teaching nutrition education to be an important part of their job.”

Global strategy consulting firm L.E.K. Consulting released this month its U.S. Foodservice Operators Study: Optimism and Opportunities that predicts increased growth in the foodservice industry over the next three years due to leading trends.The foodservice industry reports a 4.9 percent compounded annual growth rate from 2003 through 2012, which significantly rises above the retail industry which was at 3.5 percent, the study shows. The fastest growth has been among QSRs and fast-casual brands since 2007, according to the study.

Every good marketer knows you have to localize to succeed in international waters. For example, Coca-Cola slightly alters its secret recipe to the taste buds of its markets and McDonald’s offers “Le” Big Mac in Paris with a side of beer, but keeps its offering Kosher in Israel by removing the cheeseburger from its menu. But how do you apply this need to adapt to a local market when the promise of your product is the uniqueness of its origin? Do you risk losing your key differentiator when you embrace local needs?

Gone are the days of planning out each meal for a week and buying everything in bulk at one grocery store. Today’s consumers are replacing full meals with snacks, deciding on and buying their next meal within an hour, and stopping at multiple stores to find what they want.

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