Every year promises new and interesting trends in the food and beverage industry, driven by technological innovations and the consumers’ growing demand for new flavor experiences, greater transparency, and healthier products.
Experts in the grocery industry have devoted themselves to analyzing consumer preferences, as well as new products that seek to break into the market, driven by emerging companies or by large retail chains and their private brands.
Whole Foods, FreshDirect, Tyson Foods, Kroger, Natural Grocers, and Kind Health Snacks, to name a few, announced the trends that will dominate the food and beverage industry during the coming years.
In something that experts agree, is that in the future, what will stand out are the simple and natural ingredients made with unprocessed and real products.
Consumers are asking more questions about the origin of what they are eating. According to Tyson Foods, 39% of consumers in the US say they are willing to switch brands that use more transparency to describe the ingredients on their labels.
As interest in health and well-being grows, more people are seeking to reduce the consumption of meat and animal products or abandon it altogether, to become vegetarians.
As a result, the trend will continue to grow for alternatives to plant-based products such as Beyond Meat burgers containing pea, fava bean and rice protein with trace amounts of beet for color, coconut oil for juiciness and an algae-based casing.
FreshDirect believes that thanks to technology, consumers this year will be able to enjoy all year round, fresh fruits that usually could only be purchased during harvest season.
Cauliflower will come out of salads and will have a greater presence as an ingredient in foods such as cauliflower-based pizzas, rice and even cookies.
The foods that benefit brain health will be on demand and among them are dandelion leaves and jicama, also known as the Mexican potato.
The Exotic Flavors
It seems that this year consumers will be craving the flavors from the Pacific Rim, according to Whole Foods. “Ingredients like longganisa (a Filipino pork sausage), dried shrimp, cuttlefish and shrimp paste are on restaurant and home menus that span from breakfast to dinner, while vibrant tropical fruits such as guava, dragon fruit and passionfruit are making their way into colorful smoothie bowls and cocktails.” Jackfruit is also a popular meat alternative.
Kroger specialists agree that consumers will see an increasing number of products influenced by local, regional and global flavors.
More Interest in Cannabis Products
There is a new interest in the potential benefits stemming from other parts of hemp plants, acknowledges Whole Foods.
While CBD oil is still technically taboo (prohibited in food, body care and dietary supplements under federal law), retailers, culinary experts and consumers can’t miss the cannabis craze when visiting food industry trade shows, food innovators conferences or even local farmers markets.
More cooking oils with cannabis infusions, teas, chocolates, baked goods, sandwiches and even beer or pasta will be coming to market this year.
Proteins in All its Forms
The growing interest of consumers for their health in general is also creating a renewed interest in all proteins. In fact, according to the USDA, since 2014, the consumption of beef, chicken, pork and turkey has been in a constant increase, reaching record levels this year in the US. This demand is expected to continue rising, as consumers actively seek to add more protein to their diets, says Tyson Foods.
Although there are still some years to go to grocery stores, it is expected that proteins grown in the laboratory, such as Memphis Meats, generate more interest.
Probiotics Are More Integrated With Meals
Medical studies show that a healthy intestine is the foundation of general well-being and, more than ever, consumers seek food that supports self-care and healthy immune systems. According to Kroger, consumers will find this year an increasing number of products rich in probiotics.
Wellness-focused brands make it easier to get more probiotics into your daily diet by adding functional probiotic ingredients to your staple foods through products like granola, oatmeal, nut butters, soups, and nutrition bars.
Back to Grocery Stores
For consumers to once again spend more time and spend more money in grocery stores, retailers are customizing their stores to become social centers that are sources of entertainment, in addition to offering traditional grocery selection.
The stores now offer new experiences such as unique food stations where you can sit at the counter, coffee bars that will allow you to order a drink and sip while you shop, large community gathering style tables to eat at, and even couches to relax on and have a conversation with friends, according to Fresh Plaza.
Teachers at the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agriculture Sciences say that this trend will help change the idea that grocery shopping is boring and one more chore in your home.