Kearney Reveals Results From 2020 Food Trends Survey

Nov. 4, 2020

Kearney's 2020 Food Trends Survey identifies consumers' changing preferences and priorities in purchasing food and beverages, which should be of interest to operators in convenience services.  

CHICAGO, Oct. 28, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- Released today, Kearney's 2020 Food Trends Survey finds consumers are most concerned about how trendy foods taste, what they cost, and how good they are for their health. As well as examining primary drivers for food purchases, such as newness, trendiness or price, the research also looked at how Covid-19 has affected purchase patterns across income brackets.

For over a century, food manufacturers and retailers have assumed consumers were anxious to sample and adopt the hottest new food trends. It turns out the strongest foundation a new food trend can have is to be grounded in the basics, starting with taste – the primary standard consumers use to determine which new food trends to try and which new foods they will – or won't – add to their regular diets.

The "Top Three" selection criteria cited by the 1,000 consumers surveyed for Kearney's 2020 Food Trends Survey were, in order; taste, price, and diet and health considerations. Asked why they might try a new food trend, 78 percent of respondents mentioned taste, 61 percent said price, and 55 percent cited diet and health concerns. The findings were even more conclusive when asked what it would take for them to incorporate a new food trend into their regular meal schedules. Eighty seven percent reported it would be dependent on taste, 64 percent answered price, and 59 percent mentioned diet and health issues.

"The real message here is that successful new products develop from communities of consumers with evolving tastes and preferences. Food manufacturers and retailers can take cues from what consumers actually like, need, and what really motivates everyday purchase behavior, rather than being overly reactive to a quick hit flavor," said Katie Thomas, leader of the Kearney Consumer Institute (KCI) and the study's co-author. 

"It's always said that 'new products are the lifeblood of the food industry,' and that may be true, but our survey suggests that the reason pumpkin spice products remain perennially popular, while some 'hot' foods like celery water might not be remembered three months from now, is simple: consumers prefer the taste of pumpkin spice over celery," added Steven Cunix, Manager in Kearney's Consumer practice and the study's other co-author. That said, consumers are overwhelmingly willing to "test the waters," with 88 percent of respondents reporting that they try at least one new food trend per year and 45 percent stating that they're willing to pay a premium for new items.

The 2020 Food Trends Survey also found that recommendations and advertising attracted respondents to new food trends, but were less effective when it came to consumers' decisions to add trending items to their regular diets.

As to the other reasons consumers would or would not try new products, overall 39 percent of respondents identified price as the number one reason for passing on trends. Price was the primary deterrent in 43 percent of respondent households with incomes under $100,000, versus 29 percent in households with incomes over $100,000. 

Fifty-five percent of respondents identified diet/health as one of the top three reasons for not trying new food trends, with 24 percent citing it as their main reason. Respondents in higher income households were more deterred by unhealthy products:  diet and health issues were cited as one of the top three reasons for not trying new trends by 63 percent of respondents earning over $200K annually, and by 53 percent of respondents with annual incomes under $25,000. Heath concerns were the number one reason for not trying a new product for 26 percent of respondents ages 18 to 24, compared to only 20 percent of respondents age 65 or older.

Perhaps as a consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic, respondents identified availability as the fourth most important factor in product selection, with 40 percent identifying availability as one of the top three reasons for not trying new food trends and 12 percent choosing availability as their number one reason. Older respondents and those in households without kids at home saw availability as a larger issue.

For a full copy of the report, please visit here.

About Kearney As a global consulting partnership in more than 40 countries, our people make us who we are. We're individuals who take as much joy from those we work with as the work itself. Driven to be the difference between a big idea and making it happen, we help our clients break through. For more information, visit


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