Inflation forces home cooks to get creative

Despite the high cost of groceries, people are eating at home to save money, using a mix of takeout takeout, new plant-based products (a category that’s exploding dramatically) and low-priced supermarket staples.

why does it matter: Bad news for restaurants and some fast food chains is good news for stores selling prepared foods, new and exotic ingredients, and inexpensive pantry items.

News leadership: While the pandemic has made us accustomed to cooking from scratch (out of boredom) and ordering from restaurants (fun!), the latest iteration is a mix of those trends: preparing meals that mix budget ingredients and containers of delicious prepared foods.

  • Sales of pasta and pizza sauces are expected to grow rapidly, in part because they are cheap and tasty, the Specialty Food Association (SFA) predicts.
  • Another hot category that emerged from SFA’s recent trade show is “alternative comfort foods” — familiar products like pancake mix, chips and pasta made with plant-based ingredients like breadfruit, mushrooms and chickpeas.
  • Sweet and savory products from around the world — with a focus on countries whose foods are foreign to many Americans — are in the spotlight. Expect to see Salvadoran virgins, Indian chutney, and Greek honey sliding into people’s shopping carts.

“People really get a lot in home cooking During a pandemic, that’s pretty thorny — but with a bit of a twist,” Dennis Purcell, trends expert at SFA, told Axios.

  • “I think people are looking to bring take-home food and decorate it their own way with ingredients from home – especially with soaring food and restaurant prices.”
  • At home, she said, “They might give themselves an $8 jar of pasta sauce to make a hearty meal.”

Between the lines: A cluster of signs hint at what a post-pandemic, inflation-strained kitchen might look like: a place where boxes of takeaway, single-serve groceries, and bulk low-priced staples coexist, for the convenience of family members who might prep meals to suit their mixed work schedules.

  • Land O’Lakes just introduced “pre-divided” servings of half a tablespoon of butter aimed at chefs who picked up their culinary skills during lockdown.
  • Food industry trends reports rely heavily on terms such as “affordable indulgences” and “viral-fighting superfoods.”
  • A DoorDash survey of 1,504 consumers found that 86% ordered the same amount or more as they did last year, while 83% ordered delivery as much or more than they did last year.

“In the coming years, brands will have an opportunity to make sure meals, drinks, and snacks aren’t boring” as people continue to view food and drink as an outlet for convenience and creativity, according to Mintel, a market research firm.” Global Food and Beverage Trends 2022 Report “.

From the note: Sales of food storage and preservation products have skyrocketed, as people use leftovers to boost their food dollars, according to the NPD Group, a consumer trends research firm.

Bottom line: “There is a meaningful shift caused by the pandemic toward preparation at home” and experimentation that will continue for the foreseeable future, David Portalatin, a food industry expert at NPD, told Axios.

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