Consumers Are Shunning Carbohydrates and Changing the Grocery and Restaurant Industries


It is not the first time that low carbohydrate diets have become a trend in North America.   The low-carb lifestyle has always been there as an underlying solution to weight management, and for health conditions sensitive to high-carbohydrate diets.

Dieticians and nutritional researchers have done an important 180® turn in how they view meat as part of a healthy diet, which is why so many people are embracing animal proteins now, more than ever before.  In this article we’ll discuss some of the consumer trends that are radically changing the products and quantities that grocery stores offer, and the design of healthier protein focused menus to meet the growing demand for quality proteins.

Our Dietary Lifestyle and Habits Changed (And Created a New Problem)

One of the greatest health concerns for American’s is the growing number of individuals who are developing Type 2 Diabetes.   This chronic health condition is part genetic, but many researchers agree that it is a problem that has developed as a direct result of our changing lifestyle, and North American diet.

If you think about the family dynamic about fifty years ago, dining out was an uncommon occurrence.  Families cooked breakfast (and ate together), and that breakfast was typically protein based, with eggs and bacon, and some breakfast breads.  It was a balanced start to the day.

Lunches for children and working adults would be packed and balanced well (again with proteins and fruit), and dinner was a ritual of another homecooked and protein rich meal.   Snacking between meals wasn’t that common, because as you might have guessed, when you are hitting your daily proteins with breakfast, lunch and dinner, you feel satisfied.

Now think about how families operate on a daily basis today.  With two working parents, breakfasts are less likely to be cooked, and more likely to be an instant hot cereal, cold cereal, breakfast bars, breakfast breads like donuts or muffins, etc.  What is missing from that equation?  Unless the family is making a concerted effort to provide proteins at breakfast, the meal for children and adults can be as much as 80% or more refined sugars and carbohydrates.

And that leaves people feeling hungry.  So, snacks become necessary, and since the day is full of running to work, school, sporting events etc., convenience snacks are the go-to items we rely on.  Potato chips, crackers, confectionaries like chocolate bars, or power bars that are high in carbohydrates.  As a Nation, we also tend to lean heavily on sugar laden drinks for our “carbohydrate fix”, such as coffee and soda’s.

The family dinner can also be something of an ‘endangered’ tradition, and busy parents (and singles) are more likely to ‘grab something on the way home’ or order pizza, and other unhealthy fast food options that make midweek meals easier.   It saves us time, but at cost to our wallets and more importantly, to our health.

And that is exactly why in North America (and around the world) we are seeing an important shift back to cooking protein centered meals at home and choosing healthy fast-casual restaurants that offer rich protein entrees.

The Keto and Paleo Diet Shift

You cannot have a conversation about the shift in global diet preferences, without talking about the impact of the Paleo and Keto diets.   The number of social media groups and posts about the efficacy of an animal protein diet for weight loss and long-term healthy weight management is overwhelming proof that a carnivorous diet can help manage and reduce the risk of certain chronic diseases.

Many diabetics who follow a strategic protein and high-fiber diet see tangible results in their ability to manage blood glucose, when they shun carbohydrates (or limit them) on the Paleo and Keto diet models.   But they are not the only consumers who benefit from the high-protein shift; it is essential to consider proteins a healthy change to address what the World Health Organization refers to as a “global pandemic” of obesity, and the associated health risks.

One of the good things about both diets, is that they emphasize real food culture.  No processed foods.  No convenience foods laden with high levels of sodium, or artificial preservatives.   Eating clean has become a trend that is focused around choosing proteins first and reducing nutrition deficient carbohydrates for good health.

Are Animal Proteins Bad for Our Health?  Health Organizes Revise Their Findings

For decades Americans have heard cautionary warnings about the dangers of eating red meat.  Health agencies were quick to vilify natural foods with high-fat contents (like meat and cheese) as the culprit responsible for an increase in hypertension (high blood pressure), and cardiac issues such as heart attack and stroke.

The concept was simple; the more fat you eat, the more you are clogging the arteries that supply the heart and your circulatory system.  And that meant big health risks for people who consumed above what was defined as a ‘safe’ amount of meat every week.  And that number was miniscule, and to many people it didn’t make sense.  Afterall, our prehistoric ancestors were hunter gathers.  Weren’t we wired genetically, to consume meat proteins?

Fast forward another twenty years, and dieticians and researchers have discovered something important; eating a high fat diet is not harmful, as long as you are consuming proteins as part of a balanced diet with fruits and vegetables.

The most impactful study was released by McMaster University in Canada.  And while the low carb, high protein diet trend was already in full swing, this added fuel to the fire and confirmed what many people already knew; meat proteins were healthy for you.

The clinical study completed by researchers at McMaster University found that people who eat higher amounts of red meat and cheese, were more likely to live longer than individuals who reduced animal proteins and fats, favoring high-carbohydrate diets.

The optimal level of consumption according to their research, was three portions of dairy and 120 grams of unprocessed red meat per day.    That adds up to about one portion, that would fit in the palm of your hand, of red meat.

With a health endorsement of several recent dietary studies published in the last three years, consumer preference changed both at the grocery store, and in the types of menu options that they wanted to see at their favorite restaurants.   And we have not only seen the impact of that trend in the growing demand for quality beef, poultry, pork and turkey meat in the United States, but to other markets where consumer and industry demand is growing rapidly.

Restaurants Shifting to a Pro-Meat Business Model

The restaurant industry has a challenging task ahead, to try to incorporate more meat into the menu that fits within these new and revised dietary guidelines.  Balancing delicious menu items with portion control and profitability has meant that many fast-casual and full-service restaurants are radically changing their menus to retain customers.

One successful method for restaurants to adjust to this new trend, is to evaluate the appetizer menu, which is the easiest place to introduce new protein centric items and test the consumer response.

Here are some delicious appetizer ideas:

Adjusting the entrée menu to provide healthy meat proteins can be as simple as adding a few new grades of beef (including top of the line premium American Style Kobe and Wagyu) in the steak selection.  Miami Beef® supplies ground beef to help restaurants create exceptional gourmet scratch burgers, with grass fed and organic varieties.

Creating More Selection in the Fresh and Frozen Meat Section

Grocery stores are also learning to pivot to this new increased demand for animal proteins, such as beef, pork and poultry.  But one of the highest growth areas for grocery stores is the sale of private label meat selections (such as frozen steaks or hamburgers) that are branded under the name of the grocery chain.

Grocery store buyers should consider a variety of different options, from fresh meat at all grade levels (economy to premium) and the convenience of frozen meats.  From the consumer perspective, cooking can still be a challenge, and many prefer to purchase frozen meats with an extended shelf life.  The week can get busy, and that simple step of purchasing frozen meats makes meal planning more effective for families.

Did you know that Miami Beef® provides a team of inside sales professionals to support the food service and grocery industry?  We have many high-quality meat products and services to help you make the right decisions about adding more protein to your retail or restaurant business.

Contact us today for more information.