Do you find yourself reaching for foods labeled “locally sourced,” “chef-crafted” and “artisanal”?

Does the word “buffet” bring visions of mealtime happiness – because you don’t have to cook?

Foodservice manufacturers and operators want to know what’s driving your shopping cart and menu selections. Leveraging consumer food insights can plump their profits.

That’s why some foodservice professionals seek out renowned menu analysts like Maeve Webster and Nancy Kruse for insights. A taste of what’s trending in 2019? The ubiquitous egg, growing veganism and rising flatbread appetites.

Padilla’s Food + Beverage group also looks behind the menus items. Our consumer research sheds light on the multitude of ways that people are eating today – whether they’re choosing next week’s menu from a subscription meal service, ordering a breakfast sandwich at a fast-casual spot, cooking at home or picking up a prepared meal.

We research, analyze and apply the motivators that are driving consumer palates and preferences – the mealtime motivations that sophisticated foodservice retailers are catering to.

The growing array of mealtime choices reflects four ways that consumers are approaching mealtime today:

  1. Just feed me – fast! These consumers are racing the clock and convenience is top priority. Now, with an abundance of restaurant delivery options like Uber Eats, Grubhub and Postmates they are no longer limited to the drive-through experience.
  2. Make it healthy. Folks in this category put a premium on meals that promote health and wellness. They lean toward fresh, organic and plant-based options, as well as vegan and gluten-free choices. Their favorite restaurants and grocery stores feature locally sourced options.
  3. We want something for everyone. It’s all about pleasing multiple palates for this consumer. They may be catering to family members’ divergent tastes, appetites and allergies and looking for restaurants with equally wide-ranging options.
  4. I’m all about quality. Whether ordering from a menu or purchasing from a store, these foodies scour every item and scrutinize every ingredient for its source, preparation and quality. Foodservice manufacturers and retailers best not skimp on quality or detailed information when courting these consumers.

Food choices are a fundamental reflection of who we are, what we believe and how we live. That’s what makes food research and marketing perennially fascinating.

Consider our research that helped drive demand for client U.S. Highbush blueberries and reach a broader consumer base. We identified the need to promote blueberries in general cooking media geared to occasions when sometimes-cooks are seeking recipes for special people in their lives.

Our research for client Maple from Canada yielded a more unexpected insight. We discovered that the syrup’s prime heavy user is an active, outgoing father who enjoys the taste of real maple syrup and feels good serving it to his family.

Of course, when the research is done our work has sometimes just begun. We use our insights to generate consumer interest in products. Inspire menu ideas; educate consumers about nutritional benefits. And show restaurants, grocery stores and even chefs how to satisfy cravings and secure their business success.

For our latest thoughts on consumer trends in foodservice and insights into fresh produce, listen to a recent conversation we had with Colorful Plates podcast