A new year is here, bringing with it a brand-new roundup of consumer-driven trends that are expected to influence the food industry in the months ahead. Read on for a look at some of the leading trends predicted by sources like Whole Foods, Campbell’s, and KIND.
Food industry brands, suppliers, marketers, and other major players should take heed of these seven trends in 2019.
When it comes to food labeling, transparency is going to be one of the most important watchwords of 2019. Over the last few years, consumers have been “voting with their wallets.” They are making it clear that they want to know more about what is in the food they eat and the products they consume.
According to a recent report from the Food Marketing Institute and the Chicago-based data firm Label Insight, 86 percent of surveyed shoppers said they would be more inclined to trust food manufacturers and retailers that offered complete, easy-to-understand information about their products and ingredients.
As a result, brands of all kinds are working to develop effective ways to meet this demand for transparency. For example, brands may include QR codes on products that consumers can scan to bring up more detailed nutritional information than would fit on the physical package.
2. Plant-based eating
Many experts forecast that plant-based eating will continue to gain traction throughout 2019. Today’s consumers are embracing everything from entirely plant-based diets to simply expanding the number of vegetable-centered meals they eat.
This means they are increasingly on the lookout for non-meat-based protein options that are flavorful and unique, as well as healthier and more sustainable. As a result, we can expect to see many more new and innovative takes on plant-based proteins making their way into the mainstream.
Speaking of plant-based eating, one ingredient in particular is expected to have a banner year in 2019: mushrooms. Full of rich flavor and boasting a hearty, meaty texture, mushrooms have an important role to play in a plant-based diet. Restaurants and food manufactures are rushing to take advantage of the potential of this humble fungus.
For example, the summer of 2018 saw more than 350 restaurants participate in the Blended Burger Project. This competition, organized by the James Beard Foundation, challenged chefs to create a more delicious, nutritious, and sustainable burger by blending mushrooms with meat.
Mushrooms are popping up in all kinds of processed foods. Examples include snack bars incorporating dried and powdered mushrooms to mushroom jerky, a toothsome alternative to the popular beef-based treat.
4. Less fear of fat
“Fat” has been a dirty word in the food industry for many years. However, this perception is starting to shift with the growing popularity of keto, paleo, and grain- or gluten-free diets. Emphasizing healthy fats, more protein, and fewer carbs, these eating styles are forcing restaurants and food manufacturers to rethink their use of previously taboo fats.
One particular sector where the influence of this trend is highly visible is convenient snacks. Brands are shifting away from snacks based around simple carbohydrates, and instead integrating new fat sources.
Examples of this new wave of fat-friendly snacks include chocolates filled with coconut butter, nutrition bars made with MCT oil (derived from coconut or palm oil), and ready-to-drink, plant-based coffee beverages inspired by butter coffees.
5. Higher-end carbs
For the most part, consumers who are looking to decrease the quantity of carbs in their diet want to ensure that the carbs they do eat are nutritious. This has led to a significant increase in pastas, breads, and other carb-intensive products being made from ingredients like heritage grains.
Heritage grains are more nutritionally dense than conventional wheat and can offer unique flavors and textures. Artisanal fabrication techniques are also becoming more popular.
6. All-day dining
Given the busy lifestyles that many people are leading today, eating and dining patterns have shifted from three square meals at set times to a series of mini-meals. They are often consumed at random times and while on the go.
This has created a significant opportunity for food industry players to explore and create meals and products that are convenient and casual, while still offering great flavor and nutritional value. Think sippable soups, enriched juices, and other nutritious snacking products like some of those described above.
7. “Ugly” foods
Food production and marketing used to be all about perfection. However, as awareness grows about the major problem of food waste, consumers are pushing back against highly-stylized, overly perfect-looking food. Instead, they are much more willing to embrace so-called “ugly” food, like misshapen fruits and vegetables.
This reflects a kind of “back to basics” attitude that focuses more on appreciating food as it is rather than conforming to mainstream expectations of how it should look. Not surprisingly, this trend is closely connected to that other major trend, transparency, which is all about reality over hype.