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Food Culture Evolution Drives Kitchenware Market

By Micah Cheek

More shopping options and mobile payments at checkout rank among the top trends for grocery in 2018, according to John Karolefski, former senior editor of Supermarket News who now blogs at www.grocerystories.com. He predicts the launch of supermarket-branded meal kits, more wine bars and cafés in stores and easily-accessed product information for curious shoppers.

According to Karolefski, we can expect to see more meal kits and pre-prepped products showing up in grocery stores as consumers streamline their relationships with grocery stores. Among other things, this could mean a de-emphasizing of vegetable prep tools, as many services will cut and potion vegetables before delivery. In turn, this could mean more emphasis on more challenging dishes for novice cooks, because some of the prep work is done beforehand.

Food educators like New School of Cooking in Culver City, California, are busy teaching the consequences of these demographic shifts in the cooking classes they offer to home cooks. From them, we can learn what these folks are interested in and what they are likely to buy. In conversations with food educators, the consensus seems to be that younger home cooks are still trying to learn the fundamentals. “People for whatever reason just really love those basic classes,” says Tara Redfield, Marketing Director, New School of Cooking. “We do a basic cooking series that’s four weeks long. We also do a 20-week course called Pro Cooking or Pro Baking. It’s great for someone who doesn’t want to be a professional, but wants to hone their cooking or baking skills.” The demographic for cooking classes has also changed, leaning younger than in the past.

For kitchenware retailers, this means stocking the basics and items for customers looking to try something new. The big three essentials for classes, according to Redfield, are high-quality knives, sturdy tongs and cheese graters.

Greater ethnic diversity also means greater emphasis on authentic ethnic foods and flavors. The U.S. is projected to become even more ethnically diverse in the coming decades, and by 2055, the country won’t have a single ethnic majority, according to the Pew Research Center. Over the next five decades, this population change is expected to be driven by new Asian and Hispanic immigration, the Pew Research Center reports. In the speech reported by Gourmet News, Bourdain noted that 78 percent of Houston residents under the age of 30 are not of Anglo-Saxon family origin. “That’s a hell of a lot of people who grew up eating something other than meat loaf,” he said.

The preparation of authentic dishes that reflect the eating habits of people who grew up eating grandma’s kimchee and graduated to tacos and banh mi bought at street trucks raises some excellent opportunities for kitchenware retailers. The Nuni Tortilla Toaster, to name one example, matches that desire for authentic Latin cuisine with the convenience of a countertop appliance. The Nuni has a retro design with vertical slots for tortillas, much like a classic bread toaster, and is in the midst of an Indiegogo campaign to begin production. Imusa, meanwhile, has developed an appliance for making tortillas and other flatbreads from dough. The Imusa Electric Tortilla Maker presses and cooks simultaneously with nonstick plates, and features custom temperature controls.

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