The food industry is evolving rapidly. In this article, food industry leaders and innovators weigh in on top trends driving change toward a healthier and more sustainable food future.
Increasing Consumer Demand For Transparency :
The biggest trend driving change in the food and beverage industry right now is TRANSPARENCY. Consumers want to know and understand what ingredients are going into their products, which is why we are seeing so many innovative products with shorter ingredient lists that you can pronounce. Consumers are seeking simplicity in addition to better quality foods. Before now, it was rare to flip to the back of a product on shelf and read it before putting it in your cart. Consumers are reading the back of packages now more than ever. “- Samantha Abrams, Co-founder Emmy Organics
Consumers are looking for brands that share transparency to the product, as well as reflect their own personal values. The brands consumers eat, drink and wear have become an expression of who they aspire to be, which is why they seek out a company’s origin story, sustainability efforts, social consciousness, and corporate transparency. Clean labels with high ethical values are more important than ever, particularly to a growing segment of consumers with special dietary needs, which means, lab-created artificial and “natural” flavors are not in demand; consumers want real ingredients from nature.Consumers are seeing their purchasing decisions as a form of activism – they are “voting with their dollars,” supporting companies that align with their personal beliefs and hope for the future. There are pioneering companies that have embodied these sustainable values before it hit mainstream consciousness, and now we’re seeing the broader food industry get on board. Now, the biggest food conglomerates in the world are taking heed and listening to the demands of consumers – these companies realize that they need to make enormous, systemic changes for the better of our people and planet in order to stay competitive.-Ahmed Rahim, Founder & CEO, Numi Organic Tea
I believe that consumers’ growing need and interest for transparency within the food industry is continuing to hold food companies accountable and driving change within the industry. I predict that this ‘trend’ will influence food labeling, food products and marketing claims, causing companies to even share information about their work culture and inclusion measures.This is a change-maker because consumers are increasing their education about the products they eat and are starting to embrace whole, minimally processed foods to meet their nutritional needs. This means they are moving away from heavily fortified products and replacing them with whole options that are inherently nutrient-rich. Though, it’s still important to emphasize variety, as individuals continue to fall short on certain nutrients, so communicating the positive nutrient attributes of certain foods will be essential in the year ahead. It’s because of this new education and awareness that consumers can demand change from the food companies they have come to rely on.-Stephanie Perruzza RN, KIND Healthy Snacks
Increase in consumer demand for Plant- Based Food
“Through our internal proprietary research, we found that 17% of US population and 23% of Canadian consumers consider themselves ‘plant-forward’. Being ‘plant-forward’ does not necessarily require you to be vegan or vegetarian, rather that you prefer approximately 70 percent of your meals to contain plant-based, 100% clean ingredients. As consumer needs rapidly evolve, food companies must re-imagine the way fresh, plant-based foods are grown, prepared, delivered and ultimately brought to the table. To deliver foods that are fresh and contain only natural ingredients – the supply chain infrastructure throughout our country will need to be re-structured to manage fresh or short shelf-life foods that do not contain artificial preservatives or ingredients.. This is an extremely large task.- Molly Hemmeter, President & CEO – Landec Corporation
Plant-based, non-dairy alternatives are driving big change. Plant-based is a long-term format shift that I believe is gravitational and dramatically changes the choices that consumers make. I worked in the music industry when it was going through the format shift from physical to digital and I recognize all the signs signifying that this shift from dairy to non-dairy is of similar magnitude.-Edward Averdieck, Co-founder and President, The Coconut Collaborative
Health and Wellness
Health and Wellness is a trend that has been the fundamental driver of change in food and beverages worldwide, and we not only expect this trend to continue, but also accelerate. Over the past five years, we’ve seen this trend manifested in cleaner and clearer labels, the growth of organic and “better for you” offerings from major retailers, the growth in new entrants across categories. The three drivers of this trend include: 1) Consumers becoming more educated on the benefits of healthier choices. 2) Retailers taking positions with new, smaller, more innovative companies out of a need to diversify and drive higher margins. 3) Companies changing products that have been established over the past 100 years and re-creating popular items with no sugar alternatives, saturated fats, artificial coloring, GMO free, and fewer preservatives. Recently, we’ve seen growth in probiotics, collagen, protein and plant-based food and beverages. In the near future, we believe we will see the same growth with CBD in the industry, as well.
Over the past five years, there has been decrease in sales from traditional CPG leaders across the board and newer, healthier-focused companies are filling the void by driving change in a much faster, better, and more innovative way than the legacy leaders can execute. As the big companies have continued to struggle for growth, it’s those tapping the health and wellness trend that are offering retailers change in the smallest of ways to drive change with consumers to choose healthy.- Brent Willis, CEO, New Age Beverages
Functional ingredients in food and beverages are dominating the industry. Consumers are demanding an all in one solution. Those products that meet multiple requirements are capturing consumer attention and making a mark. Catering for multiple dietary requirements as well as offering a specific functional element to products is key to differentiating yourself to other brands and stand out. –Janine Zappini, Co-founder & CEO, Gutsii