Foster Farms Survey Findings Redefine Comfort Food

According to the national survey in the USA, commissioned by Livingston, California-headquartered poultry producer Foster Farms, 73 percent of consumers have changed their opinions about the food they feel good about eating. Eighty-one percent of those polled care more about the quality of ingredients, 83 percent choose healthier recipes, 81 percent eat more fruits and vegetables, and 63 percent seek more meat and poultry raised without hormones and antibiotics.

Eighty-three percent of Americans said that chicken is a staple for comfort food meals, with half of respondents eating less red meat. These shifts reveal that today's comfort food cuisine features fresh and premium quality ingredients, including antibiotic-free and organic poultry and can be cooked quickly at home.

F Farm prodFoster Farms, which packs a wide variety of chilled, frozen and deli poultry products, hosted a panel of experts in San Francisco on August 23 to explore factors that have contributed to the emergence of the new comfort food trend. Panelists included Chef Dean Rucker, the James Beard Award-nominated cookbook author and Food Network "Chopped" champion, and Dr. Kit Yarrow, a consumer psychologist and best-selling author, who were provided survey results and Pinterest insights.

"The comfort food of yesterday is not as relevant to today's consumers," said Rucker. "Today's home chefs want their meals to taste good, but they also want to use ingredients they feel good about. Their priorities are high quality ingredients and time."

"Social media have informed, liberated and inspired consumers," said Yarrow. "Today's new comfort food is about variety, impact, and high quality ingredients rather than simply taste indulgence."

Pinterest insights, as detailed below, confirm that comfort food is a hot topic online and that consumers prefer a more health-conscious incarnation:

  • Over the last year, people saved nearly 50,000 comfort food ideas every day to more than 14 million boards, a 140 percent increase from the previous year.
  • "Veggies" is the most popular word accompanying comfort food Pins.
  • Chicken is the most popular protein on Pinterest, as consumers are increasingly focused on leaner meats. In the last year, 35 million people saved 566 million chicken ideas on Pinterest, a 32 percent increase from the previous year, and more than eggs, peanut butter and beef combined.
  • Traditional comfort foods are on the decline, including lasagna (down 69 percent), macaroni (down 55 percent) and stroganoff (down 50 percent) over the last year.

"We have seen that as a new generation of home cooks evolves, specifically millennial parents, ingredient preferences are more informed and carefully defined," said Ira Brill, director of communications for Foster Farms. "Chicken is a staple ingredient, and today's consumer wants that chicken to be antibiotic-free or organic. It is what they feel best about serving their families. We have seen continued demand for these select products as a result."

In addition to being highly selective about comfort food ingredients, the survey identified unique cooking habits of millennials:

  • 50 percent of millennials seek inspiration for recipes from social media, compared to 34 percent of older generation consumers.
  • 24 percent look for online video recipes, compared to 15 percent of Gen Xers.
  • 41 percent share food they cook on social media at least a few times a week, compared to 24 percent of non-millennials.
  • 61 percent rely on recipes, compared to 54 percent of non-millennials.
  • 77 percent of millennials try new recipes at least once a month, compared to 65 percent of non-millennials.