Food trends come and go, but one trend that’s been growing with no signs of stopping is the desire for premium foods. These are foods that cost at least 20% more than the average price for the category (as defined by Nielsen). According to the market research company, the premium sector is growing globally and rapidly, outpacing growth total growth for many consumer goods.
As the premium trend grows, the way consumers think about premium is evolving. Clearly, a premium product needs to start with premium ingredients. But that’s just table stakes. Research by The Hartman Group has found that consumers are also paying attention to how food is made, with transparency and authenticity contributing to the perception of high quality.
For food manufacturers seeking to gain entry to, or expand their presence in, the premium market, thermal processing can add value to products ranging from meat and poultry to seafood and produce.
Flame grilling can instantly turn a generic product, whether it’s a burger patty, a chicken breast, or zucchini, into a premium product by developing a rich color and providing enhanced flavor.
A flame grill can act as a standalone unit or be incorporated into a complete line at various levels of processing. For example, flame grills are often used to finish a line (e.g., after fully cooking the product in an oven), but by putting the flame grill first, you can seal in the juices to boost quality and also make your processing line more efficient by shaving up to 10% off a product’s cooking time.
The growth of the foodie culture has spawned interest not only in new types of foods, but also in common foods cooked in new ways. This trend is perhaps most evident in the foods home cooks are preparing on their backyard barbecue. From apples to avocados, to romaine lettuce, everything is going on the grill as cooks seek that unique combination of flavor and appearance that only grilling can provide.
Processors can capitalize on this trend by adding bar marks to their products. Many of them already are. R&D teams that visit our solution center have recently been testing our bar marking equipment on a wide variety of foods, including peaches.
Processors that want to take the backyard barbecue authenticity up a notch are moving toward cooking with real charcoal. Our Unitherm charcoal grill is the only machine currently on the market that can provide the same rich, smoky flavors as your Weber without the use of color or flavor additives.
Consumers want healthier foods. This is especially true of younger consumers — a 2015 Nielsen study found that Generation Z is not only the most health-conscious generation, but also that they’re willing to pay more for healthier foods.
Processors can meet consumer demands and benefit from premium pricing by changing their processes. For example, by replacing deep frying with flash frying plus baking, you can reduce the amount of oil your products absorb. This is a simple and effective way to decrease fat and calorie content without sacrificing taste and texture.
Finally, no discussion of food trends and preferences can be complete without mentioning clean labels. Today’s consumers don’t want unrecognizable and unpronounceable ingredients in their foods. Period.
Thermal pasteurization, via spiral, infrared, and sous vide technologies, allow manufacturers to ensure the safety of products from ready meals to deli meats, without adding chemical preservatives or antimicrobials. Removing these items from your labels can help you reach the 30% of consumers who are specifically looking for foods without preservatives.
As you can see, thermal processing is key to creating premium products that in line with consumer preferences. Schedule a test in one of our worldwide solution centers to discover first-hand the value thermal processing can bring to your products.