A look back at the trends of the last decade

December 16 2014

Trends come and go quickly in the food industry as people's lifestyles change and companies come up with innovative products at a fast pace.

Fortune recently published a list of the top ten foods people in the US are eating today that they weren't eating a decade ago, and the results are certainly revealing.

Harry Balzer of research firm NPD Group pointed out that restaurants were previously trendsetters, with restaurant use peaking at 215 meals per average person per year in 2000.

This declined after the recession, however, and food companies now seem to be the big influencers judging by the items on the list.

1. Yoghurt

In 2004, 20 per cent of people surveyed ate yoghurt at least once in a two-week period; now, that figure is 32 per cent. As a good source of calcium, yoghurt offers a healthier dessert option, while also costing little and requiring little or no preparation.

2. Bottled water

Up from 12 per cent a decade ago to 23 per cent now, the popularity of this item continues the emphasis on convenience and health - although environmentalists will be concerned about the effect of plastic bottles on the environment.

3. Pizza

Rising from 66 per cent to 75 per cent, pizza continued to be a firm American favourite. Delicious, versatile and easy-to-make, its appeal is unlikely to diminish any time soon.

4. Poultry sandwiches

Up from 40 to 49 per cent, poultry sandwiches can be a healthy option - but they are also available from a number of fast-food outlets, where they are marketed as an alternative to the burger.

5. Mexican food

Mexican food has been a firm favourite with Americans for a while, and it has risen from 25 to 33 per cent in the past decade. Taste undoubtedly provides the explanation for this trend, as well as the increasing number of Mexican restaurants.

6. Fresh fruit

Up from 60 to 67 per cent, this is arguably the healthiest item on the list. Cheap and convenient, fresh fruit requires no preparation and makes an ideal addition to a packed lunch, forming a tasty substitute for chocolate and other less healthy snacks for those looking to lose weight.

7. Bars

Enjoying a rise from 16 to 23 per cent, grain bars continued the convenience theme. Although opinion remains divided over their health benefits - many consider them to contain too much sugar - they make an ideal breakfast or snack for busy commuters.

8. Frozen sandwiches

These items increased from around 12 to 18 per cent. Frozen sandwiches are another time-saving option for those with little time to prepare a packed lunch in the morning and who want to save on buying a freshly-made meal.

9. Chips

Nutritionists are unlikely to be pleased with the rise in popularity of chips from 60 to 66 per cent. However, they certainly make a tasty snack when you're on the move.

10. Pancakes

Pancakes have risen from 29 per cent to 34 per cent in the past decade. A breakfast favourite for Americans, their versatility means they can easily be adapted to the tastes of the individual, with an almost endless number of sweet and savoury options to try out.