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A Peek Inside Consumers’ Kitchens

New Circana study reveals popular pantry items, go-to appliances and household differences in methods and skills
Lynn Petrak, Progressive Grocer
Circana's new Kitchen Audit Study found key similarities and differences in consumer households.

What do shoppers do with grocery products and ingredients when they get home? Research firm Circana set out to get a virtual look inside consumer kitchens, surveying adults around the country to gauge their cooking tools, methods and inspirations.

The 2023 Kitchen Audit Study divided insights into three main areas: what consumers have on hand in their pantries; how kitchens vary based on generations, regions and other demographics; and the tools and appliances people are using in their kitchens. Those areas reveal opportunities for grocers, CPGs, and others as they seek to provide home chefs with what they want and need, according to Darren Seifer, food and beverage industry analyst at Circana. “Kitchens are command central for U.S. households, and knowing what foods, beverages, appliances, cookware/bakeware, utensils, and other cooking materials on hand is a gold mine of actionable information. Not to mention how fascinating it is to get a peek inside America’s kitchens,” he said.

[Read more: “ALDI Customers Choose 2023 Fan Favorites”]

Circana’s audit uncovered some interesting tidbits on ingredients. For example, consumers aged 55 and older are more likely to have celery in their fridge than younger adults, while adobo spice is more likely to be found in the kitchens of consumers in the Northeast region of the United States. The research also showed that pantries aren’t always well stocked, as 42% of respondents said that having the right ingredients on hand is a challenge when preparing meals.

As for the second area of key findings, Circana’s study affirmed that not all kitchens are the same. For example, Hispanic/Latinx adults are more likely to have fresh medium or large tomatoes on hand compared to other adults.

Meanwhile, just as ingredient choices vary by location and demographic, so does the use of technology. The research found that 54% of those who prepare meals own a voice-controlled home device that can be used as kitchen assistants, from setting times to converting recipes.

As for appliances, air fryers are still trending among U.S. home cooks. Two-thirds of those surveyed by Circana who own an air fryer reported that they used it in the past four weeks. Just under a third of adults own a wok or stir fry pan.

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