Homing in on the Barbecue Trend

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Barbecue means different things to different people. In Alabama, barbecue refers to charred chicken smothered in a white, creamy barbecue sauce. In Texas, barbecue speaks to Pitmaster competitions with the iconic mesquite smoked and dry-rubbed briskets. The variations go on and on. In order to truly understand the nuances of barbecue and pinpoint exactly what trends may be emerging, Kerry has become a thought leader in the world of barbecue, exploring consumers’ needs, the barbecue process and how the cut of meat, sauce style and preparation method are intertwined.

Trending Methods
Smoked, grilled, roasted, toasted, chargrilled, mesquite and barbeque all among the top trending “meat flavors,” according to Mintel GNPD 2016 for new product launches. But these aren’t just flavors, they’re barbecue preparation methods, and their popularity shows that consumers are craving authentic and nostalgic cooking experiences. In fact, cooking methods such as these occupy eight of the top 20 trending new retail product launch flavors.

Regional Preferences
Barbecue goes well beyond a typical rack of ribs. Consumer research shows that people living in different regions are gravitating toward different protein sources. In the Pacific Northwest, the top trending proteins for barbecue are general seafood and salmon. In the Midwest, consumers prefer steaks, pork chops and ribs, according to the barbecue website Allqdup.com.

Sauce style also varies by region. Kansas City residents crave the thick, tangy sweet BBQ sauce made with tomatoes and molasses, while North Carolinians serve barbecue with a vinegar-based sauce incorporating peppers and ketchup.1 When you consider preferences for barbecue sauce styles and proteins, the opportunities for authentic barbecue combinations are almost endless.

Difficult to DIY
Barbecue is entrenched in American culture with 60% of Americans using their outdoor grills year-round. However, most Americans aren’t able to prepare homemade barbecue at the level they’ve come to crave. They also aren’t taking the time to do so. Google reported that the most popular food preparation videos in 2016 were those related to American-style BBQ, yet Mintel reported that Americans aged 15-24 only spend an average of 11-17 minutes daily on food preparation and clean-up activities. Those facts and figures show there’s a disconnect between what people want and what they get.

Getting the BBQ Trend Right Barbecue is here to stay. So how do food companies capitalize on the growing barbecue trends? By delivering authentic barbecue taste experiences for the emerging consumer that lacks home-cooking expertise. There’s a tremendous growth opportunity in delivering authentic products that offer a ‘best-in-class’ barbecue experience for today’s consumer. This will likely include a variety of products with options designed for every consumer group, customized by region, age, and more.

1NRN 2016, Flavor & the Menu 2016

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