The International Dairy Deli Bakery Association (IDDBA) show in New Orleans was a huge success this year. Our team at the event connected with peers, learned about industry trends, and gave out samples of our Truth in Snacks and AquaFruit products. If you couldn’t make the event, have no fear! We’ve rounded up a few key takeaways and talking points from IDDBA 2018 about healthy snacking trends.

A change to “ethnic food”

One main trend at the convention was the change taking hold of the “ethnic food” market. With a new generation of parents and kids, the term “ethnic food” is inherently changing. According to Datassential, 47 percent of Generation Z (or people born after 1997) are non-white. This often means they’re growing up with a wider variety of food at home. Additionally, the IDDBA says that 53 percent of population growth by 2020 will come from Hispanic Americans. Traditional Mexican, South American, and Asian foods are no longer considered “ethnic food”; to those growing up in America, they’re just food now.

While this shift in thinking has taken hold of the population, it isn’t generally reflected in traditional grocery stores. With “ethnic food” aisles currently devoted to tortillas and soy sauce, it’s time for stores to recognize that people are more adventurous with their eating, and are looking for authentic products to reflect the cuisines they grew up with. How will your brand respond to this shift?

A new generation of parents and kids

Aside from the “ethnic food” conundrum, another trend highlighted at the IDDBA show was how younger generations are changing the way they feed their kids. Healthy snacking is in, and that’s especially true when it comes to children and young families. One place this isn’t reflected is the “kids menu” at many restaurants. In fact, the children’s menu often serves the most unhealthy items a restaurant offers. Whether it’s frozen meats, hot dogs on white bread buns, or fatty mac and cheese, these menus hardly ever feature fruits and vegetables. While some kids are picky eaters, young parents are demanding healthier options for their kids that can’t be found on current kids menus.

In fact, 76 percent of parents would prefer restaurants serve child-appropriate portions from the adult menu. When the kids menu reflects the adult menu, the quality of ingredients immediately improves. Replacing low-grade mystery meat with high-grade, all-natural products, is a great way to start improving the kids menu. Additionally, controlling portions and cooking food from scratch also raises the quality of kids food.

Going out to eat at restaurants is a great bonding experience for families, and introduces kids to exciting new flavors. Parents are encouraged to expose their kids to a variety of foods so they can learn to like them, and reduce picky eating tendencies. With parents demanding a change, restaurants and brands should respond by putting healthy and quality ingredients first.

What do you think of our takeaways? Did you have any more trends or conversations to share from the IDDBA show? Let us know! And for more information about Mercer’s freeze-drying process, connect with us on Facebook and LinkedIn.