A survey conducted by the Center for Culinary Development (CCD) and Packaged Facts has found that aging boomers and generation Yers are finding new ways to fulfil their comfort food cravings.
According to a release on Packaged Facts.com, the report entitled Generational Comfort Food Culinary Trend Mapping Report was released in August and the survey conducted in June.
The report confirms that “consumers are passionate about their comfort foods, many of which stem from childhood favourites.” But, it goes on to say, that today’s changing food world means those same dishes are evolving with new values and lifestyles.
The CCD’s CEO, Kimberly Egan, says: “Childhood comfort food is getting a makeover according to who’s eating it. Each generation has different needs and tastes, including more healthful fare, gourmet ingredients and bolder flavours.”
Overall, the survey found that sweets is probably the category preferred by all age groups.
But individual responses found many participants craved chicken soup or Gen Yers turned to Vietnamese pho. Gen Xers turned to branded foods and boomers turned to more premium foods, keeping an eye on health.
Trends in comfort foods
The report identified three trends in comfort foods.
• Contemporary quality: All three generations are seeking higher quality. For example, if it’s pies, it’s farmer’s market fresh; if it’s meat, it’s leaner cuts or choices; if it’s casseroles, they’re loaded with seasonal vegetables; and if it’s macaroni and cheese, it has some gourmet twists.
Additional upgrades include fresh herbs, exotic spices, artisan cheeses and natural and organic ingredients.
• The new diversity: The report found that boomers have a “decided taste” for exotic flavours, diverse Gen Yers are adopting global comfort dishes like Vietnamese beef noodle soup, sushi, Indian and Thai curries. In addition to these comfort meals, global flavours are enhancing comfort classics.
• Balanced eating: Boomers and Gen Xers are trying to balance indulgent comfort foods with more healthful versions using fresh vegetables, whole grains and lean meats. Gen Yers grew up learning nutrition basics and now crave fresh fruit for a healthful burst and cheese in all forms for a protein and flavour boost.
The release went on to say that for food marketers the results show opportunities for creating enticing, up-to-date versions of the comfort foods every generation craves.