What’s Next In Food Trends: New Study Explores Consumer Curiosity

by | Aug 5, 2023

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Produce marketers: Keep it simple. The overwhelming majority of trendsetting food consumers are most interested in discovering recipes that can be prepped in less than 30 minutes. And it’s not just quick and easy meals they crave. Global flavors are driving the next food trends.

These are among the findings in the first-ever “Consumer Curiosity Report,” a national survey of more than 700 food-forward consumers to gauge their curiosity on culinary, nutrition and sustainability topics.

Rather than a broad survey of all consumers, food marketing agency Curious Plot – the study’s author – selectively honed in on early food adopters across multiple generations and geographies who would be considered among the first to discover and embrace new food ideas and practices. Download the report.

Poster of "what we heard" quotes from the survey.

“In food marketing, it’s not enough to follow trends. You have to be relentlessly curious to discover what’s next,” said Laurie Fleck, CEO of Curious Plot, a hybrid marketing, communications and consulting agency that represents clients in the food and agriculture industries. “That’s the objective of this study: To help food marketers gain a deeper understanding of how today’s consumer curiosities will influence tomorrow’s food trends.” Among the survey’s discoveries:

  • Even the trendsetters want it simple. More than 85% of respondents are “very” or “extremely” curious about easy, under 30-minute meals, revealing that even early food adopters are looking for inspiration to save time and resources in their kitchens.
  • Consumers are eager to explore new flavors. While simple is the way, 78% of early food adopters also are “very” or “extremely” curious about global flavors and cuisines.
  • Curiosities differ between generations. Gen Z members are most curious about new cooking skills and techniques, while baby boomers rank global flavors as their top curiosity. Time-pressed Gen Xers and millennials – many of whom are juggling family and careers – look most toward quick and easy meals.
  • Functional nutrition curiosity is high. When it comes to nutrition, while immune support and plant-based foods may be among today’s top food trends, early adopters are saying they are most curious in learning about how foods can support cognitive and gut health.
  • TikTok fuels Gen Z while family and friends drive the rest. Younger consumers’ food curiosity is influenced most by TikTok, while families, friends and restaurants are collectively most likely to fuel all other generations’ curiosity. Social media doesn’t even rank in the top three influences among Gen Xers and baby boomers.

“This research shows conclusively that there’s no shortage of consumer curiosity when it comes to food,” said Cristie Mather, vice president and head of the Food practice at Curious Plot. “This research offers fascinating insights into which curiosities we should watch closely as we look ahead to 2024, informing priorities and helping marketers make better, smarter decisions.”

Curious Plot unveiled preliminary findings from the Consumer Curiosity Report in May to prominent food marketing executives at the first-ever Curious Food Leadership Program held in Minneapolis.

Download the Consumer Curiosity Report here.

About Curious Plot

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Curious Plot is a marketing, communications and consulting agency that represents clients in the food, agriculture and companion animal care sectors. With a shared purpose of “We Believe in Better,” the agency’s 115+ team members deliver services including go-to-market strategy, public relations, creative, branding, social, digital and media. Anchored by office locations in Minneapolis (HQ), Indianapolis and Portland, Ore., Curious Plot team members are located coast to coast. Learn more at CuriousPlot.agency.

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