Consumer Eating Habits Seen Impacting Kitchen Design,
The food industry is gearing up to confront changes in America’s
demographic composition, social behavior and attitudes over the
next few decades, and these changes will impact the way kitchens
are used, planned and built.
A recent issue of American Demographics magazine spells out some
of these expected changes. Over the next 25 years, the magazine
notes, the U.S. will become more ethnically diverse, more single
and older. By 2025, 40% of the population of this country will be
non-white, up from 31% today.
Moreover, the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ notes that black and
Hispanic households are more likely to prepare meals at home than
white ones; Black households spend 9.6% of their income on food at
home and Hispanics spend 10.7% on food at home, compared to just
7.5% spent on that by white households.
Americans increasingly prefer meals they can make quickly and
eat on the run. About 44% of weekday meals today are made in less
than 30 minutes. In fact, 12% of meals today feature a frozen dish,
up from 9% four years ago, according to the latest food industry
Time-starved working single parents are also growing in number.
In 1970, there were 3 million single mothers, compared with 10
million today. In 1970, there were fewer than 400,000 single
fathers; today, there are two million. And even families with two
parents increasingly have both parents working.
Food companies will increasingly be producing foods that are
frozen, meant to be microwaved, and able to be eaten with one hand.
Families will eat and surf the Internet at the same time. In
reality, that’s already largely the case: Half of the kids surveyed
last November by Wharf Research said they eat and surf the Internet
sometimes, and of those who surf daily, 65% eat while they
Americans also are increasingly coming to understand the link
between food and health. Four of the leading causes of death heart
disease, cancer, stroke and diabetes are affected directly by diet.
A study by the International Food Information Council found that
75% of those polled had changed their diets in the past five years
for health reasons.
This will mean more emphasis on fresh ingredients, and on options
such as steaming.
Foods will also become more diverse, and spices and different
preparation methods will be important. Wharf Research’s study of
teens found that 86% are familiar with sushi, 87% know what
quesadillas are, 45% are familiar with pesto, and 16% have tried
samosas. Spice storage will grow in importance to consumers,
especially as ethnic diversity grows and TV chefs introduce
Safety will also be a major concern, driven by headlines about
bioterrorism, genetically engineered “frankenfoods,” “Mad Cow”
disease and the like. It is estimated that seven out of 10
consumers have access to a farmer’s market and one in three buys
Also, food packaging will contain safety measures, such as
color-coded stickers that change colors after “use by” dates or
safe temperature ranges are passed. Expect more demand for
non-porous countertop and food-prep surfaces, more interest in
items like water filters and purifiers, and more attention paid to
clean-up when considering materials.