Almond milk, Greek yogurt on the rise

Almond milk is becoming a staple in American kitchens, according to a new survey. This product is now found in at least 10 percent of U.S. households.
Almond milk is becoming a staple in American kitchens, according to a new survey. This product is now found in at least 10 percent of U.S. households.

Here’s more proof that Americans are trying to eat healthier: We’re buying more almond milk, sea salt, quinoa and Greek yogurt.

That’s what researchers found when they looked in the kitchens of 2,700 American households. It reflects a continued trend towards fresh foods and healthy ingredients.

Released Tuesday, The NPD Group’s latest Kitchen Audit asked consumers to report on how they cook at home including what appliances, cookware and utensils they own, food ingredients they have on hand, usage, and sources of recipes. NPD, a leading information and business consulting company, has been tracking such consumer behavior since 1993.

Since 2003, America’s appetite for fresh foods — fruits, vegetables, meat, poultry, fish and eggs — grew by 20 percent, according to NPD research. That trend will continue, driven by young adults and Millennials (ages 24 to 37), the researchers predict.

In the last decade, the biggest mealtime growth area for fresh ingredients was breakfast, which saw a 9 percent spike, NPD said.

That interest in fresh, healthier ingredients shows up in what consumers consider must-have staples. For example, Greek yogurt was found in 9 percent of homes in 2011, the last time NPD completed its Kitchen Audit; now, it’s in 29 percent, more than triple the kitchens in four years.

“About half of adults are saying they want more protein in diets and, in their quest for more protein, about half of consumers say non-meat sources are best,” said Darren Seifer, NPD food and beverage industry analyst. “Greek yogurt meets the needs of consumers looking for non-meat protein sources.”

Besides its popularity at breakfast or lunch, Greek yogurt also is becoming a common ingredient for recipes.

Almond milk, a popular non-dairy milk substitute, saw its kitchen penetration nearly double. It jumped from 6 percent in 2011 to 10 percent now.

Quinoa, an ancient (and quick-cooking) Inca grain rediscovered by today’s time-stressed cooks, jumped from 8 to 13 percent as more consumers want whole grains.

Sea salt may soon be the dominant seasoning in our cooking. Perceived as healthier than table salt, sea salt is now a staple in 55 percent of our kitchen cupboards, a 6 percent increase since 2011.

“The fact that U.S. consumers are stocking items that are perceived fresher or healthier speaks to the bigger picture needs of consumers today,” Seifer said. “Not that people are stopping the consumption of other items that historically have been on hand in kitchens, but what people are grabbing for more readily seems to be toward the fresh side with more healthful benefits.”

None of these up-and-coming ingredients have made it to the favorites list of younger consumers. For Generation Z (age 23 and younger), the top fresh foods eaten were (in order) chicken, eggs, potatoes, apples, bananas, bacon, carrots and hot dogs, according to NPD. In the case of bacon and hot dogs, “fresh” simply meant not previously frozen.

For more on NPD and its Kitchen Audit, visit

Call The Bee’s Debbie Arrington, (916) 321-1075. Follow her on Twitter @debarrington.