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Drive-through supermarket, anyone? January 5, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Food Drinks News, Lifestyle.

Portion-control packaged snacks, functional foods and convenience in the supermarket and quickserve businesses will be the top food trends of 2007, predicts Harry Balzer of the consumer marketing company NPD Group.

Heads up, fast-food chains. This year a supermarket group will introduce a drive-through concept that will allow consumers to buy prepared meals from the comfort and security of their ride. That prediction (a guess, really) comes from Harry Balzer, vice president of the consumer marketing research firm NPD Group and an expert on food and diet trends who has studied America’s eating habits for 25 years.

We asked Balzer to tell us what else he thinks the new year might hold. In the health arena, Balzer predicts that interest in antioxidants, omega-3 oils and probiotics, dietary supplements of beneficial intestinal bacteria, will expand.

In the home kitchen, he says, there will be even more use of slow cookers and less use of pots and pans that “require too much cleaning.” Grilling will reach an all-time high: “It’s not seasonal anymore.”

Portion control, Balzer figures, will be a continuing trend, with new foods offered in 100-calorie packs. Fast-food chains will focus on smaller versions of existing products, such as the snack chicken sandwiches that some offer today. His prediction: In the coming year, three of every four meals will be fast food.

Still, we will continue to cook. A full 59 percent of Americans used a recipe for something last year, and Balzer forecasts no change. And in 2007, as in 2006, the most popular sandwich made at home will be ham. But you knew that.

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