The food industry is experiencing rapid changes as consumer demands are driving new products to the market. From plant-based burgers to beverage enriched in phytochemicals, emerging companies clearly reflect consumer demand and interest. There is an obvious shift in consumer thinking when it comes to food and how the body is nourished.
In this article, Food industry leaders share their perspectives on emerging trends in the food industry, highlighting factors driving the changes we are observing. These perspectives fall into two distinct categories highlighted below.
Health & Wellness Consciousness
“Interest in functional foods has skyrocketed due to a number of factors, including the growing self-care movement and evidence highlighting the critical link between diet and health, according to the Journal of The American College of Nutrition. The interest in functional foods has resulted in a number of innovative new foods and brands on the shelves. There is much greater consumer awareness today than ever before linking one’s diet and their health. As a result consumers are craving food and beverages that can sustain their robust lifestyles and provide optimal health benefits.
As a society we want to be our best selves. Consumers are seeking out products with meaningful functional benefits such as energy, cognitive support, stress relief, while products that assist with issues such as digestion and inflammation are in high demand. Consumers want more than just hydration from their beverages and more than just nourishment from their food as they are more educated about health and wellness than ever before. The food & beverage industry is trying to quickly react to the ever changing needs of this new consumer by innovating and creating nutrient dense foods with the meaningful functional benefits that more and more consumers are looking for.” – Cindy Kasindorf, Founder and Chief Innovation Officer of Remedy Organics
“We’ve all seen the beverage industry moving away from sugary drinks filled with artificial ingredients. Consumers are demanding organic drinks and better-for-you-beverages with some aspect of functionality. I think about the products and drinks I consumed when I was younger. Many of those products were marketed as low fat or diet. As we know today, there was nothing healthy about them. There has been a conscious shift in thinking about how we fuel our bodies. The consumer today wants organic products with premium ingredients.
It is easier to access global flavors now more than ever, and people want to try and experience new, innovative and healthy alternatives from other cultures and parts of the world. Many of the trends today are revivals of ancient ingredients, grains and elixirs (like matcha, acai and kombuchas). Florals and botanicals are also ancients remedies that have been modernized and adapted to today’s consumer product trends. There are holistic and spiritual aspects to many florals and botanicals. Rose, for example, was consumed by Cleopatra and is said to help improve skin, aid with digestion and boost your mood. It is an exciting time as millennials are starting to take action by innovating and developing better consumer products. As a millennial mom and admirer of botanicals, I am proud to be part of the shift!” –Candice Crane, CEO & Founder, Petal
“There’s no doubt that there’s a major shift in buying behavior to the plant-based category. We’re seeing this inflection point first-hand. A major factor driving this demand is the proliferation of research on gut-health and benefits of a plant-heavy diet, which has led consumers to look at food in a “functional” capacity. People care about clean labels and transparency—and they are paying attention to the power of plant ingredients. It’s no wonder plant-based product claims increased by 62% globally from 2013 through 2017. Restaurants, groceries, and even the large food conglomerates are putting capital behind it. In fact, Goldman Sachs recently put out a report after meetings with the management teams at the large food companies like Kellogg and Kraft-Heinz—and the predominant theme was that there is a strong appetite for M&A. A quick glance at recent deal activity shows that a number of these acquisitions have been plant-based focused. As more investment moves into the space, we’ll see more of these products on shelves.” – Lauren Benbassat & Elise Tresley, Co-Owners of mēle
“While there is scientific evidence that plant-based diet has positive impacts on your body, consumer demand for plant-based protein is driven by several factors. Younger consumers, especially millennials, are embracing healthier lifestyles and their choices are driven by their desire to try new and different things, particularly food philosophies they see from celebrities on social media – right now the trend is meat-free diets. In addition, retailers are showing increasing support of plant-based protein products and sources, and consumers trust these retailers who are supplying new products that meet their lifestyle needs.
In general, the longevity of the plant-based protein movement is dependent on the overall ability of products to deliver a consumer experience, which includes great taste, strong nutritionals, an affordable price and availability at a wide array of retailers. ”– Brad Charron, CEO of ALOHA (makers of Plant-Based Protein Bars and Powders)
“The plant based food industry is exploding! There has been a tremendous dietary shift away from consuming animal products. We know that a diet high in processed foods and or animal consumption leads to many health risk not to mention from an environmental standpoint, plant based protein is a more sustainable and earth friendly use of our agriculture resources.
I believe the plant based trend is here to stay as consumers take control of their future and the future of the planet by demanding food companies provide healthier, clean label, plant based options”. –Crissanne Raymond, Founder/President, No Bull Burger
“While concerns over animal cruelty, the environment, and diet (e.g., vegetarianism) certainly play a role in the rise of plant proteins, most of the data I’ve seen reveal the driving force to be much simpler: taste. This isn’t all that surprising, given that just 3% of Americans abstain from meat consumption, yet close to 100% of us prefer foods that taste good. And let’s face it – almonds will beat whey on taste every day of the week.” – Will Nitze, Founder & CEO of IQ BAR