Top Food Trends for 2003

CHICAGO-Consumers are increasing their use of convenience foods and more meals are being made at home while fewer people say they ate out or brought home take-out food in 2002.

These assessments and many others are among the "Top 10 Trends to Watch," featured this month in Food Technology magazine, published by the not-for-profit international scientific society Institute of Food Technologists.

Drawing upon professional surveys and consumer-tracking studies, the report makes clear that consumers are willing to consider a variety of new food concepts, but convenience comes first.

The top four attributes of foods that consumers say they would definitely or probably try are: Ready-to-eat, Heat-and-eat, Packaged for on-the-go, and No utensils required.

The article acknowledges consumers are learning that food habits can positively affect their health as now half of all consumers are very concerned about nutrition.

In 2002, eight out of ten shoppers tried to prevent a condition through food purchases, an increase of 10 percent. Heart disease and cancer top their list of concerns.

At the same time, low price is the third greatest factor when deciding where to shop for groceries, behind only a clean, neat store and high quality fruits and vegetables.

"Fresh" tops the list of most desired label claim, and interest in fat, sugar, calories and dietary fiber is high as sales of no-, low-, less than-, and reduced- foods and beverages topped $53 billion in 2002.

American cuisine still leads the list of food and cooking styles that consumers enjoy, but surveys show Chinese, Italian and Mexican/Tex-Mex close behind. Last year, the popularity of ethnic foods in the household climbed in eight of nine categories.

Nutrition bars are everywhere but expectations have sales growing by $1 billion, making it a $2.4 billion category by 2006. Sports and energy drink sales neared $3 billion last year, a 16 percent increase, and sports supplements sales climbed eight percent to nearly $2 billion.

Organic sales grew by nearly 20 percent in the last year, to $9.7 billion dollars. That's approximately half the amount spent on salted snacks, $18.8 billion, and on fortified foods and beverages, $20 billion.

Awareness of organic food is high, but penetration remained at about 40 percent of households, indicating those who buy organics are buying more rather than new customers converting to them.

Many more trends are noted in this issue of Food Technology, published monthly by IFT, providing news and analysis of the development, use, quality, safety, and regulation of food sources, products, and processes. Articles are accessible online at


Founded in 1939, the Institute of Food Technologists is a not-for-profit international scientific society with 28,000 members working in food science, technology and related professions in industry, academia and government. As the society for food science and technology, IFT brings sound science to the public discussion of food issues. For more on IFT, see

Hide comments


  • Allowed HTML tags: <em> <strong> <blockquote> <br> <p>

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.