CHICAGO – The NPD Group has identified five consumer trends shaping the future of the food and foodservice industries, beginning with Hispanics, which the global information company said is growing “exponentially” compared to non-Hispanics.

NPD also said Millennials, aging boomers, smaller households and the need for fresh and non-processed foods are among the factors driving the shift in what and how consumers eat.

Regarding Hispanics, NPD reports that Hispanics grew restaurant visits in 2014 while non-Hispanic visits declined. In-home, the Hispanic population is beginning to influence national consumption patterns, including preparing fresh and from scratch.

The Millennial generation is projected to surpass the Baby Boom generation this year as the nation's largest living generation, according to the US Census Bureau population projections. “As Millennials go so goes the food and foodservice industries,” the NPD stated in the report. “Millennials are driving changes in this country’s eating behaviors with their approach to food choice and preparation. They like fresh, less processed food, which has played out in their preference for fast casual restaurants that offer freshly prepared foods and shopping the perimeter of grocery stores where fresh and non-packaged foods can be found.”

NPD reported that the Baby Boomer generation is aging, considering retirement, becoming empty nesters and developing health ailments. “While shrinking in size, this generation is still too large to ignore especially given their expected lifestyle changes,” the NPD stated. “This group will be less driven by the latest fad and more by what they need to sustain their health and lifestyles. Healthful foods, such as high in whole grains, protein, and calcium, or low in saturated fat, cholesterol, and sodium, will be of most interest to this generational group.  Boomers’ restaurant visits have surpassed those of younger adults, who have cut back on visits over the past several years.”

Regarding smaller households, consumption behaviors in the US have become less household-oriented and more individualized than previous generations, NPD noted, citing that more than 50 percent of eating and beverage occasions happen when consumers are alone.  “Also contributing to consumers dining alone is that 27 percent of all households now consist of just one person — the highest level in U.S. history, according to the U.S. Census Bureau,” the NPD said. “The number of solo eating and drinking occasions has wide-ranging implications for food and beverage marketers and foodservice operators in terms of new product development, packaging and positioning, restaurant seating design, menu development and more.”

Fresh food consumption from 2003 to 2013 grew by 20 percent to over 100 billion eatings and it’s the youngest generations, Generation Z and Millennials driving the trend, according to NPD. “In addition to eating more fresh foods, Generation Z and Millennial consumers are also interested in eating more organic foods. In terms of foodservice visits, Millennials prefer fresh ingredients and freshly prepared items.”