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Supermarket Guru Predicts Top Eight Food Trends for 2015

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The growth of online grocery shopping and a preference toward craft foods, fermented foods (think aged, cured or pickled foods like sauerkraut) and smoked flavors rank among the top food trends for 2015, according to supermarket guru Phil Lempert.

Lempert, working closely with ConAgra Foods Inc., predicts the most significant changes next year will stem from a desire for bold-flavored foods that also offer health benefits, and shifts in approach to supermarket shopping – both online and at brick-and-mortar stores. Other trends highlight new eating behaviors among Generation Z (those born after 1995) and boomers, as well as new technologies that improve the ease of reading and understanding of nutrition labels.

Lempert's top food trends for 2015 include:

1. Grazing Golden-Agers: More boomers, those raised in the "three square meals a day" era, employ a "grazing" approach to eating next year. The focus will be on foods rich in nutrients like protein, fiber and Omega3s that can help promote bone health. Other popular snack choices include plant-based proteins and whole grains.

2. Grocery Shopping Goes 24/7: With this in mind, products will evolve and become catered to online shoppers. More brands will bundle multiple SKUs to create meal kits or offer pre-packaged sets of multiple products.

3. Everything Smoked: The demand for smoked foods has risen as chefs begin to apply smoking and grilling to add some sizzle and impart new flavor to other proteins and alternatives like vegetables, butters, and even cocktails. At-home cooks are also experimenting with smoking non-traditional foods. The increase in smoked foods is sparking an increase in enjoying that smoky flavor year-round. For example, tomatoes are one of the most popular non-meat items. In 2015, look for even more smoked flavors to emerge into your favorite foods found in the grocery aisles, menus and recipes.

4. The Rise of Fermented Foods: 2015 will be the year fermented foods – foods like yogurt, tempeh and sauerkraut take center stage. These foods contain live cultures, or are preserved in liquid so their sugars and starches can become bacteria-boosting agents. After multi-year growth of gluten-free foods and probiotics, many consumers have found their digestive health improved. Increased knowledge about the impact foods have on our digestive health will lead to significant changes in the way consumers prepare food in 2015. Once toppings or side items, fermented foods will become commonplace in meals throughout the day.

5. Gen Z: Chefs Everyday: For Gen Z, the demographic group born after Millennials (1995 to present day), the collective attitude toward food is simplicity and health. They tend to use stove tops rather than microwaves for cooking meals and fresh ingredients to prepared foods. Research by NPD Group indicates some of their favorite foods to cook include eggs/omelets, hot dogs, potatoes and chicken, which they can "dress up" with their own unique touch. In 2015, look for even more brands to offer simple ideas to elevate everyday foods.

6. Craft Foods Make its Way into Kitchens Everywhere: In 2015, look for this “craft” trend to extend to other beverages and food, as Millennials in particular continue to seek unique tastes and foods with authentic origin stories.

7. Nutrition Labels: No Longer Just on Packaged Foods: As consumers want more information about their foods, innovative devices like Prep Pad will soon offer this information instantaneously. The Prep Pad pairs with an iPad app to calculate the exact nutritional content of your meals, including the carbs, fats, protein and calories by scanning the bar code of food packages used as ingredients or the items on your plate. Information about a food's ingredients, chemical makeup or nutritional values will become more readily available and commonplace in the supermarket and our kitchens.

8. Supermarkets Convert into Socializing Spaces: In the near future, supermarkets will further specialize in order to present their customers with a unique experience that showcases their personality and philosophy toward foods – instead of presenting themselves solely as vendors of goods. Experienced culinarians are offering unique dishes, local foods and beverages. Cooking classes, events and seminars are giving consumers reasons beyond a grocery list to step inside their neighborhood store.

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