Prepared Meal Solutions: Culinary Trend Mapping Report

Published: September 1, 2008 - 65 Pages

Table of Contents

Why Prepared Meal Solutions?
Executive Summary
Trend Summary
Restaurant-Inspired Takeout
Stage 1: Chef’s Home Meals
Stage 2: Neighborhood Takeout Boutiques
Stage 3: Curbside Pickup
New Meal Services
Stage 1: Personal Chef Services
Stage 4: Meal Assembly Services
Grocery Store Meals
Stage 2: Stylish Packaged Meals
Stage 5: Supermarket Prepared Foods
Chef’s Speak: Amey Shaw - Reading Your Customer Means Reading Yourself
Strategic Implications


New meal solutions are turning up in a variety of places: the natural and specialty food sectors, our neighborhood shops, favorite chain restaurants and local supermarkets. Most of these solutions are restaurant-inspired in quality, recipe and style. American diners have been eating out so often lately, they have come to expect restaurant-like meals on their family tables. They are also seeking new strategies for putting these meals together.

Yet, despite the modern hyperactive lifestyle, parents still want to feed loved ones (and themselves) the best: nourishing meals made from fresh, top-quality ingredients. Our intentions are the same as always but our methods are evolving. The opportunities for manufacturers and restaurant operators to offer prepared meals solutions are many and often consist of borrowing best practices from the other. Supermarkets and restaurant compete for the same meal dollars these days but consumers want choices, so there is room for everyone around the dinner table.

In Prepared Meal Solutions: Culinary Trend Mapping Report, we profile several categories of meal solutions emerging and growing for consumers hungry for convenient, tasty food. Each category represents a source for consumers to find a meal suitable for their tastes and lifestyle. Taken together, these trends represent the brave new world of the U.S. dinner table.

The trends covered in this report are:
  • Restaurant-Inspired Takeout
  • Stage 1 - Chefs’ Home Meals
  • Stage 2 - Neighborhood Takeout Boutiques
  • Stage 3 - Curbside Pickup
  • New Meal Services
  • Stage 1 -Personal Chef Services
  • Stage 4 - Meal Assembly Redefined
  • Grocery Stores Meals
  • Stage 2 - Stylish Packaged Meals
  • Stage 5 - Supermarket Prepared Foods
Prepared Meal Solutions: Culinary Trend Mapping Report, examines the ingredients, cooking styles and ethnic influences that the Center for Culinary Development (CCD) has identified as about to hit, or have established themselves, in the U.S.

Key Strategies
  • Where these meal solutions are appearing along the trend map
  • How new uses and applications of these prepared meal solutions may suggest a product that will grow into the next big thing.
  • Applications for the packaged foods/retail side of the business
  • New foodservice opportunities inspired by prepared meal solution trends
  • CCD translation tips - how to turn these trends into actionable menu, product and retail developments
  • Future impact of meal solution trends on the industry
Market Assessment: Consumers, Professionals, Business Strategic Implications: What are, in CCD’s words, the “strategic levers” food marketers, foodservice operators and food retailers should pull to identify opportunities for new product development based on prepared meal solutions?

Because of the drivers behind the explosion in prepared meals — the appeal of local and seasonal foods, chef-inspired quality and flavor profiles, and above all convenience — we project increased demand for new options. How can marketers speak to consumers’ needs to provide solutions that not only taste right but feel right, too?

To search for white space opportunities in the realm of prepared meal solutions, let’s combine some of the trend drivers included in this report, like restaurant-inspired or meal planning, with more traditional consumer drivers, like health and wellness, to discover exciting new product ideas.

With extensive profiles of each ingredient/food emerging within the five stages of the trend map, this prepared meal solution issue of the Culinary Trend Mapping Report provides you with the most up-to-date, insider’s look at what’s hot and what’s not in the world of food. Top food marketers rely on trend mapping to keep them on the pulse of what’s happening and what’s about to happen as far as consumer tastes are concerned.

• • • The Culinary Trend Mapping Report is an indispensable tool for those whose job it is to stay abreast of what's hot - or what will be - in the food world!

Using the Center for Culinary Development’s (CCD) signature Trend Mapping technique, a validated method identifying which culinary trends are “gaining traction” and which are simply flashes in the pan, each report concentrates on a theme, or trend, that is affecting the food industry, and then looks at the emerging and established ingredients, cooking styles and products along the Trend Map that are driving this theme.

Each report is a 75+ page journal packed with trends, data, strategies and insights on the food industry that simply aren't available anywhere else.

Each Issue of the Culinary Trends Mapping Report
  • Identifies the maturity level of foods and ingredients according to CCD’s unique, proprietary 5-stage trend mapping process.
  • Concentrates on a theme that is affecting the food industry, and then looks at the emerging and established trends along the Trend Map that affect—or are affected by—this theme.
  • Delves into these trends and what they mean for you and the manufacturing, retailing, and foodservice industries.
  • Gives strategic insight into how consumers are thinking of and reacting to new foods and ingredients.
  • Provides business know-how regarding opportunities, challenges, and ways to implement current trends into foodservice, retail, and packaged goods operations.
  • Presents a feature interview with a member chef from CCD’s exclusive 80+ member Chefs’ Council® that offers expert analysis and his or her perspective on a specific trend.
Additional features include:
  • Menu Tracking: Menu mentions of our featured Trend Map items. Within the trend profiles, we will offer a summary of how often the trend has appeared on menus in restaurants ranging from 75 white tablecloth restaurants to the top 200 chains.
  • Trend Dishes: Actual descriptions of all dishes for top restaurant chains for each of the trends appear in the report Appendices to provide a comprehensive overview of how the trends are being served.
  • Industry Veterans Speak: Points of view from an industry perspective on what each trend means—whether positive or negative—to the food industry at large, including consumers, professionals and businesses.
Trend Mapping

Trend Mapping is guided by the premise that major food trends pass through five distinct stages on their way to the mainstream:
  • Stage 1: The ingredient, dish and/or cooking technique appears at upscale dining establishments, ethnic and popular independent restaurants.
  • Stage 2: The item is featured in specialty consumer-oriented food magazines, such as Gourmet and Bon Appetit plus retail stores such as Sur La Table that target culinary professionals and serious home cooks.
  • Stage 3: The item begins to appear in mainstream chain restaurants -- Applebee's or Chili's -- as well as retail stores such as Williams-Sonoma that target recreational cooks.
  • Stage 4: Publications such as Family Circle and Better Homes and Gardens pick up the buzz.
  • Stage 5: Finally, the trend makes its way to quick service restaurant menus and is either starting to appear or is having increased presence on grocery store shelves.

Published bimonthly, the Culinary Trend Mapping Report is available for purchase as a single issue or a six-issue subscription.

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