Packaged Food Sales Decline

Americans are increasingly buying fresh foods to make from-scratch meals.

| February/March 2018

  • Fresh food is out-competing TV dinners and other convenience foods.
    Photo by Getty Images/hillwoman2

To the delight of dieticians, healthy eating may be taking off in the United States. Packaged food sales are in a slump across the country, and the trend shows no sign of stopping. Shoppers are spending less time in the center of the store and are instead doing most of their purchasing from around the perimeter. Earning reports show that fresh dairy, produce, and deli meat are steadily replacing processed foods in shopping carts.

What’s causing this change? It seems that Americans are growing wary of long ingredient lists, and today’s shoppers are more comfortable committing to store brands than splurging on legacy labels with big marketing budgets. While many of these brands are scrubbing their products of undesirable sugars and preservatives, it may be too little too late for a customer base that’s increasingly looking to buy ingredients, not meals.

This from-scratch trend is often attributed to millennials, some of whom saved money during the Great Recession by learning how to cook with whole ingredients, which — due to their greater fiber content — tend to be more filling than processed foods. A decade later, many still prefer to serve meals made from scratch. The prevalence of social media has also made it fashionable to showcase meals that contain natural hues from fruits and vegetables.

Whether the current trend toward healthier eating is merely a fad remains to be seen, but millions of Americans are experimenting with eating less processed food, and enjoying the fresh foods they’re eating.

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