Meat Preparation Methods Replacing Flavor Trends


As braised, smoked and grilled flavors gain in popularity, home cooks are looking for easier ways to recreate the taste of complex meat preparation methods

KerryDigest Fast Facts:
  • Many Millennial and Gen Z consumers are self-proclaimed foodies and home cooks, despite a lack of complex cooking method skills.
  • These younger consumer groups are redefining scratch-cooking by supplementing prepared and semi-prepared components.
  • At the same time, meat flavor trends are expanding to include more involved meat preparation methods such as braising and glazing, thanks to the prevalence of restaurant fare.
  • Because consumers want the taste but not the time commitment of such intricate meat preparation methods, there’s demand for products that can replicate the process in fewer steps and less time.

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KerryDigest Full Scoop:

Millennial and Gen Z consumers have developed a taste for foods prepared with intricate cooking techniques, although there’s evidence few understand how to smoke, flute, braise or even roast foods on their own. These lax cooking habits are attributable to multiple factors including busy schedules, a lack of education in home economics classes and young people’s affinity for social media and experiential dining.

However, many young Americans like to cook at home, and are interested in making new and complex dishes through the use of simple recipes with minimal steps. Herein lies an opportunity for food companies, particularly for brands that can deliver prepared and semi-prepared meal components. Because meat preparations are often complex, and with meat flavor trends being replaced by preparation techniques such as glazing and smoking, the market is ready for more complex, diverse and easy-to-prepare meat products.


Cooking Habits of Younger Americans

In the U.S., 75% of Millennials who cook prefer recipes with short preparation and cooking times, according to Mintel. As such, they are more likely to own trendy time-saving kitchen appliances such as sous vide, Instant Pot®, smokers and food processors compared to the general population. The use of these trendy appliances allows Millennials to create good taste in minimal time, while making it easier to diversify meal choices due to each appliance’s unique preparation attribute. Still, there’s a quest for even easier preparations, such as multicooker meal kits.


Gen Z consumers are 9 to 22 years old, and they cook far less than Millennials since they still live at home and rely on others to shop for them. Because of this, 58% of all Gen Z meal occasions today are prepared without using any type of appliance at all, and the only appliance they use more than the general population is the microwave.


Delivering Authentic and Fast Preparation Methods

To satisfy the desire for time, quality and variety, young consumers are turning to preparation shortcuts in the form of new appliances, meal kits and delivery services, among others. For example, from start to finish, the average preparation time for a meal kit is just 35 minutes, which is the most desirable attribute to Millennials. The ingredients that are delivered are perceived as high quality and fresh, and the variety of recipes and flavor profiles keep mealtimes exciting and teaching new kitchen skills.

To more easily replicate meat preparations at home, products such as marinades and glazes are in demand. These can take the time and effort out of the slow, low-cooking process while delivering the same taste notes and nutrition as a traditional preparation.


For brands, the right marinade, glaze or flavor can make red meat, poultry or pork taste as if it has been roasted, fried or cooked in a wok or over wood fire. In addition to providing clean nutrition, these concentrated products can bring to life in a quick and healthy way low- and slow-cooking processes that are hard to replicate in a manufacturing reality.


Beyond Grilled, Fried and Roasted

As the taste of complex meat preparations become more easy to replicate, there’s room for product offerings to expand beyond traditional formats and into untraditional applications. Recent trends in foodservice reflect this is already happening.

According to Datassential, the top growing foodservice preparation methods over the past four years were:

  • Pickled
  • Pulled
  • Shaved
  • Braised
  • Glazed
  • Caramelized
  • Dried
  • Scrambled
  • Encrusted
  • Poached
  • Seared
  • Smoked
  • Toasted
  • Roasted
  • Boiled
  • Battered
  • Fried
  • Grilled
  • Mashed
  • Marinated

Many of these are meat-specific. For instance, braising is on trend, with menus offering more braised red meat and pork options, which consumers see as premium. Grill flavours are also in demand, in part because consumers view grilling as a healthy cooking method. Smoke, which has been traditionally applied to meat, now transcends all food and beverage categories, from cocktails and mocktails to foods and desserts.

Given the unique tastes, it’s no surprise, then, that some preparation methods are now considered flavors. According to Mintel GNPD 2019, many of the top 20 flavors in new meat retail product launches were actually preparation methods. These include:

  • Smoke
  • Roasted/Toasted
  • Smoke (Hickory)
  • Smoke (Hardwood)
  • Smoke (Applewood)
  • Barbecue
  • Grilled/Chargrilled
  • Honey & Smoke
  • Mesquite & Smoke

Kerry’s savoury flavors and extracts can replicate the taste of time-intense preparation methods, shortening preparation time for restaurants and brands. For more information on key growth opportunities, consumer-driven trends and proprietary consumer insights in the meat and protein market, or to request a sample of our Modern Butcher Blend kit, contact Kerry.

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