More Consumer Beliefs Shaping the Food and Beverage Industry in 2019

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Growing interest in reducing food waste, understanding the microbiome and the union of food and technology is spurring new trends in food and bev

In the article “Key Consumer Beliefs Shaping the Food and Beverage Industry Right Now”, we looked at three common sentiments influencing food and beverage purchasing behaviours around the globe. Here, we look at three more such beliefs, including ones that reflect the consumer values of sustainability and reducing food waste, understanding the microbiome and food technologies.

As you work to create products in 2019, consider not just the emerging and mainstream macrotrends in the market, but also the consumer beliefs and attitudes that created the need for new offerings in the first place. You may find even more untapped areas in the market by getting back to the heart of consumer wants and needs.

Consumer Belief: “I can make a difference to the world by making more sustainable choices”.

Going “Green Label” is the next step for health- and environmentally-minded companies as sustainability becomes increasingly important. Amongst consumers, issues such as waste and ingredient origin rate high on the list of priorities.

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Macrotrend: Packaging
Today’s consumer struggles to reconcile the value of food—especially healthy foods—versus the “evil” of plastic, non-biodegradable packaging. For example, on an ordinary trip to the supermarket, a consumer may be asked to choose between buying a cucumber that is wrapped in plastic versus one that is not—and many people are beginning to see the answer isn’t obvious. Although the unwrapped cucumber comes with less apparent waste, the one wrapped in plastic will last twice as long, meaning environmentally conscious consumers have to balance this choice between food waste and single-use plastic waste. (For more on food waste, see the next macrotrend.)

Although consumers have positive intentions around recycling, manufacturers are lagging on the use of recyclable materials. Pressure is mounting for companies to tackle these packaging concerns. Many have pledged their commitment to reducing packaging, especially through the use of single-use and/or hard to recycle plastics.

Macrotrend: Food Waste
Consumers overwhelmingly believe food waste is bad. Brands can help combat it through changes in packaging, preservation and otherwise extending the shelf-life of food.

As with the cucumber mentioned above, packaging can preserve freshness in food. It also serves as a way to communicate such information to customers. Unfortunately, confusion about terms such as “best before” and “use by”  contributes to food waste: Only 56% of UK consumers say it's safe to eat food past its “best before” date, according to Mintel. Some companies are solving for this on their own. For example, in Norway dairy companies are changing the on-package verbiage to “Best before but not bad after”.

On the manufacturing side, recognising the cyclical nature of food has benefitted innovation around food waste. For example, collaboration between the brewing and baking industries has brought about bread made from spent grain, and some brewers are deriving beer from surplus bread. In addition, foodservice is increasingly using a “nose-to-tail” approach to ingredients, which is more economical and sustainable. There many are other one-off examples of waste innovations, but to tackle the challenge at a large scale it needs to move past the novelty factor.

Macrotrend: Responsible Sourcing
Understanding where food and drink ingredients come from and how they are processed is important to 68% of European consumers, according to Kerry research. As more people become aware of food origins, that information is impacting purchasing decisions, such as limiting the consumption of fruits and vegetables that aren’t locally grown.

Agricultural lands occupy nearly 40% of the Earth’s land and the majority of raw materials for the food and beverage sector ultimately come from farms. Primary production is closely linked with many core sustainability issues such as water scarcity and climate change, and amongst fad foods the environmental and social concerns can be greater. Some brands are working with their growers to make farming practices better for the environment; others are helping provide people-centered benefits, such as education for the children of farmers or partial ownership of the company.

Consumer Belief: “I think there’s a strong connection between food, health and self-care”.

“Living Nutrition” is a growing area of focus stemming from consumers’ increasing interest in food and nutrition. Recent gains in our understanding of the gut microbiome as a means of unlocking mental health, immunity and digestive health solutions has only increased appeal.

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Macrotrend: Gut Health
Products that claim to aid digestion have existed for many years, but new knowledge about the way a person’s gut can affect their health is driving demand and innovation. For example, scientists now say that people who are clinically depressed have less diversity in the microbiota in their gut. Findings such as this have brought about an increase in “mood food” product launches. People are also increasingly trying to fortify their immunity with fermented foods—especially ones that are natural—and taking a more holistic approach to health by feeding “good bacteria” with the use of probiotics such as Wellmune.

Elimination diets are another way consumers are trying to influence their gut bacteria and ease digestive discomfort. For help navigating this new category, consumers are embracing microbiome and DNA test kits, and are increasingly seeking out personalised food recommendations and made-to-order offerings.

Consumer Belief: “I use my phone for everything nowadays… finding recipes, ordering groceries or takeaways”.

As “Food Tech” enters home and restaurant kitchens, science and technology are changing how we interact with food, including how it is cooked in restaurants and at home as well as how it is eaten, ordered and delivered.

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Macrotrend: Future of the Kitchen
Traditional dining is all but dead due to tech-based changes in the way we think, cook, eat, order and consume food. Technology is rapidly evolving consumer expectations, lifestyles and needs and brands are being forced to keep up—or else. The emerging area of Food Tech is bringing a futuristic approach to food to home cooks as well as restaurants and foodservice businesses, and consumers are embracing it.

The future of the kitchen is smart. Appliance design has evolved into the creation of the “connected kitchen”, allowing precision cooking, greater efficiency and restaurant quality food, all at the touch of a button or—increasingly—through vocal command. (While your June Oven automatically cooks chicken wings to perfection, you can quiz the Google Assistant about dipping sauce recipes.) As technology adds ease to the cooking process, room is left for innovation, such as the ongoing experimentation with the 3D printing of food.

Macrotrend: Disruptive Delivery
Delivery has completely disrupted foodservice over the past 5 years, largely because consumer uptake has been so enthusiastic. Against a backdrop of a “right here, right now” instant gratification culture, the demand for good food, made to order and delivered in minutes, is a sign of the times.

Convenience is king for consumers, and it’s no longer just fast food on the menu. Full-service restaurants are cashing in on the craze with “ghost kitchens” popping up to offer delivery-only services, many of which are backed by delivery giants such as Deliveroo and Just Eat. A slew of delivery services have popped up and food brands are vying for market share by offering a multitude of ordering methods. For example, Domino’s, in the U.S., is now accepting orders via pizza emoji on Facebook messenger and has begun the work of rebranding themselves “a tech company that sells pizza”.

To learn about three more beliefs influencing macrotrends in the food and beverage industry, read part one of this two-part series: “Key Consumer Beliefs and Attitudes Shaping the Food Industry Right Now”. For a deeper dive into consumer beliefs and behaviours, including segmenting consumers by location, age, and more, contact Kerry about partnering on product development and reformulation.

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