CHICAGO — Greek yogurt, almond milk and single-serve coffee makers have made their way into more kitchens. In its most recent Kitchen Audit, The NPD Group peeked inside the pantries of American consumers to uncover trending ingredients, appliances and eating habits.
Every three years, NPD surveys approximately 2,700 households on the cookware, utensils, foods and beverages kept on hand. Growth in key items suggests a movement toward fresher fare.
“Particularly with the millennial generation, we see them using a lot of fresh ingredients, fresh fruits, vegetables, meats, more so than other generations did at that same age,” said Darren Seifer, food and beverage industry analyst for NPD. “We see a lot of rice cookers being used more often with that group.”
An increase in pod-based coffee makers from 9% of households in 2011 to 23% in 2014 underscores the consumer desire for ingredients and products perceived as fresh.
“I think the pod coffee maker in particular is a way consumers can get coffee almost instantaneously without having to use instant coffee.”
NPD began tracking home soda makers in its latest report, which revealed 4% of households are making soft drinks at home. The rise of beverage machines feeds into a growing demand for customization.
“We see that playing out in some of foods that millennials are making, too,” Mr. Seifer said. “Particularly at breakfast, we see stronger usage of eggs, omelets, fresh pancakes — not frozen pancakes, but fresh pancakes — all of which offer the opportunity to customize and use additions to those foods.”
Millennial consumers tend to take a hands-on and personalized approach to cooking but seek convenience whenever possible.
“I’ve been calling it sensible involvement with food preparation,” Mr. Seifer said. “Just because they want some more involvement with their food doesn’t mean they want to spend more time in the kitchen. Just like everyone else, they want to get out of the kitchen as soon as possible, but it looks as though they want to be able to call the food their own.
“We see that manifest itself in the freshness in the foods they are choosing that allow them to customize it make it their own.”
Fueling the freshness trend is an increase of Greek yogurt in kitchens, which rose from 9% in 2011 to 29% in 2014.
“That’s also riding the wave of a want for more protein in our diets,” Mr. Seifer said. “About half of adults are saying they want more protein in diets, and they’re not just looking at meat sources for a way to get that. So, Greek yogurt fits squarely into that consumer need.”
Quinoa, almond milk and hazelnut spread also are popping up in more pantries, he noted.
New to the latest report is sriracha, found to be a hot sauce staple in 9% of total households. The number skews higher for younger adults; the condiment is kept in 16% of kitchens with a homemaker under age 35.
“I think that’s part of a general picture of how millennials and younger adults are more willing to try foods that are somewhat foreign, that break the mold of traditional American cuisine,” Mr. Seifer said. “The fact that they just have sriracha on hand I think is telling of the rise of Asian influence. We’ve certainly seen Asian restaurants wherever you go, particularly in big cities.
“It seems as if for a while, it was reserved for away-from-home consumption. Now with sriracha making its way into home, it looks as though some of that influence is making its way into people’s kitchens.”
What staples are shrinking from kitchens? Canned products, for one.
“Canned lima beans fell about 20 percentage points,” Mr. Seifer said. “Canned or jarred mushrooms fell about 6%.”
Carbonated soft drinks dipped from 55% in 2011 to 54%. Ready-to-eat cereal also declined slightly.“A lot of people have cereals on hand at any time, but it did fall as well,” Mr. Seifer said. “When you push it up to bigger picture, I think what that’s saying is people want to keep more fresh items on hand. Not that people are stopping the consumption of these items, but what people are grabbing for more readily seems to be more towards the fresh side.”