In a recent webinar, Lu Ann Williams, Director of Innovation at Innova Market Insights, shared the company’s top 10 food trends for 2020.
Trend 1: Storytelling: Winning with words
Storytelling is crucial to success in the market going forward. Innova research found 56% of global consumers say the stories around a brand influence purchase decisions. The top reason consumers want to know the story behind products is to learn the origin of the ingredients.
However, companies can tell stories about more than ingredient provenance. Other examples include cultural celebrations, processing used in making the product, or how a product fits into a chosen lifestyle. Consumers want transparency, honesty, and authenticity because they’re focusing more on experiences.
Trend 2: The plant-based revolution
The opportunity for mainstream plant-based claims is wide open. Innova has seen 68% average annual growth over the past five years in food and beverage launches with a plant-based claim. When buying meat or dairy alternatives, consumers prefer the plant-based claim rather than vegetarian or vegan by a wide margin.
Trend 3: The sustain domain
Global consumers who expect companies to invest in sustainability increased from 65% in 2018 to 87% in 2019. About half of consumers are willing to pay extra for products devoted to solving sustainability issues.
Two big concerns are plastic waste and food waste, although differences in consumer focus exist regionally and across different age groups. Companies need to know their target market and figure out how they will measure their sustainability efforts.
Trend 4: The right bite
This is the continuation of recent trends of holistic health, the mindful consumer, and consumers wanting food that’s good for them that they also feel good about eating. This trend also looks at how lifestyle plays into food choices. For example, Generation Z is on the go and loves protein drinks. Generation X is likely to sometimes enjoy a super-indulgent food. Some consumers want to buy a ready-made meal to steam or microwave. Others want to cook but don’t want to plan — this group likes meal kits. The way a company positions its food and tells stories about it can help consumers decide how the food fits into their lifestyle.
Trend 5: Tapping into texture
More than ever, consumers recognize the influence of texture on their food and beverages. Part of this trend is driven by social media. Seven in 10 (70%) of consumers say the texture gives food and beverages a more interesting experience. Companies can make some consumer connections through textures. In particular, younger consumers agreed more with the statement, “I care more for the texture experience than for the ingredient list of a food product.”
Trend 6: Macronutrients makeover
Consumer perceptions of macronutrients are evolving. Currently, sugar is the big demon. Views on fat are changing. Fiber is making a big comeback. Innova sees both media science reports and social media as having a big impact on what consumers perceive as good and not good.
Trend 7: Hello hybrids
With adventurous consumers (Innova’s number one trend for 2019), Innova believes there’s many opportunities for hybrid products. Innova also thinks companies have more opportunity to move beyond attracting adventurous consumers and go more mainstream. For example, 70% of U.S. consumers like products and mixed flavors like sweet and salty.
Williams said this is a big opportunity that’s almost like mass customization but the angle is helping consumers find the perfect product that meets whatever need they have at that moment.
Trend 8: A star is born
Ingredients have become the stars of many products. For example, fiber, probiotics, prebiotics, ashwagandha, and cannabis/CBD have varying degrees of familiarity and acceptance among consumers. Taking an ingredient mainstream requires increasing its familiarity and acceptance. This is another area where storytelling is important.
Trend 9: Eat pretty
Many food launches border on cosmeceuticals. Consumers eat or drink products that promote physical appearance or are good for hair, skin, or body. Williams believes this trend plays into the holistic approach to sustainability and health and has a lot more potential. This area is another one where social media is important.
Trend 10: Brand unlimited
Brands are engaging consumers like never before. Mass personalization and limited time releases are becoming popular. Two out of five global consumers say they would love to design their own limited-edition product. Innova has seen a 30% annual growth in food and beverage launches with a limited batch claim.
Williams concluded the webinar by noting earlier trends don’t stop on December 31 and new ones start on January 1. The trends of storytelling, plant-based, and hybrids build on previous years’ trends. Clean label, free from, and other previous trends are still here. They’re woven into the new trends and gain more depth every year as trends continue to develop.