TORONTO: Changing food trends in Canada are being driven by YEMMies – Young Educated Millennial Mothers – according to Ipsos.

The researcher identified an emerging cohort of 1.7m Millennial Moms – projected to grow to 4m over the next ten years – which it said should be considered highly influential.

Analysing data from its own Canada CHATS 2015 – a syndicated food and beverage consumption trends report – it highlighted several developments it said showcased how new food era needs are transforming consumption habits, with many being influenced by YEMMies.

This group has an average age of 29, is well educated and possesses spending power but is not isolated by new motherhood and remains connected and engaged. They have complex and intersecting needs for real food solutions that are nutritious and convenient, Ipsos noted.

Among the trends featured was a shift in the structure of eating, as consumers opt to eat more often throughout the day and are less concerned about traditional meal occasions. So much so that over 65% of consumption occasions throughout the day now occur in between traditional meals, as snacks.

"The impact of this shifting behaviour is not changing how we eat at traditional meals but it is changing and evolving how we define a snack," said Ipsos.

It also observed a continuing shift away from "reactive eating" – where consumers choose particular foods in order to manage preferences (eg low-salt products) and conditions (such as high blood pressure) – to focus on eating real foods that have simpler and fewer ingredients and are less processed.

The research showed 22% of consumers had chosen to consume a food or beverage item with simpler and fewer ingredients – double the proportion of 12 months ago – as eating less processed foods is seen as vital to a healthy diet.

Intimately linked to that trend is the increased scrutiny of labels. Almost two thirds (63%) of adult consumers read the Nutrition Facts Table to evaluate ingredient profiles, said Ipsos, although their focus has shifted.

Calories remain the most read detail but concern about fat content appears to have fallen.

Data sourced from Ipsos; additional content by Warc staff