Commentary

2019 Trends That Could Affect Food Marketers

If the trends below are any indication, this will be the year that conscientious actions affect not only our bodies, but Mother Nature as well -- and food marketing.

Data Diets: Advances in technology have turned our phones into digital doctors and crossed over into diets. Watch for an increase in the usage of personal health trackers, especially those that allow consumers to hyper-customize meal prep in ways seen only in science-fiction movies.

War On Plastic: Straw bans are just the beginning. Restaurants and grocery stores are implementing “zero-waste” models and committing to fully reusable, recyclable or compostable packaging within the next decade. More stores are shifting to paper or reusable grocery bags, and Styrofoam may become the next banned item.

Misfit Movement: Nobody’s perfect, so why do we hold our fruits and vegetables to this expectation? Bumps, bruises and atypical shapes send billions of pounds of perfectly good food straight to the trash. Enterprising CPG companies are changing that by using “ugly food” as components of their products and meal kits. 

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Mindful Food: Consumers are paying attention to their mental health and how food impacts well-being. The number of people searching for “mood food” has doubled since 2013 (Google Trends), and restaurants and CPG brands are tapping into this mindset by offering dishes with ingredients that improve mood.

Alcohol Abstinence: Americans are cutting back on alcohol year-round in an effort to lead healthier lives. Numerous bars in New York and Washington, D.C., for example, offer nonalcoholic beverages that rival the taste of liquor-laden mixed drinks. Even nonalcoholic beer has risen in popularity (19% sales increase from 2016 to 2017).

Easy Vegan: The U.S. vegan market is a $2.2 billion industry. Meat-free days are increasing in popularity, and restaurants are following suit by creating flavorful, filling, plant-based dishes including everything from vegan cheesesteaks to “hot dogs.” 

Sriracha 2.0: Unfamiliar with harissa? You’ll be BFFs by year’s end. Interest in the bold, smoky North African chili paste has doubled the last five years, per Google. 

Middle-Eastern Spices: Expect the demand for spices like cardamom, fenugreek seeds, turmeric, coriander and nutmeg to rise in 2019. Spice blends offer an easy way for cooks to introduce international flavors and remarkable health benefits into familiar dishes. 

A New Taste: Move over, sweet, sour, salty, bitter and savory (umami), there’s a new taste in town. Kokumi is a newly identified category of taste associated with rich, complex flavors similar to slow cooking, aging and ripening. Foods categorized as such include include fish sauce, yeast, cheese, onion, garlic and beer.

Edible Flowers: Garnishes are no longer just for aesthetics. Edible flowers are in dishes and drinks everywhere, from Michelin-star restaurants to food stands. Salads, cakes, cocktails and even ice cubes are adding roses, lavender, nasturtiums and dandelions thanks to their powerful, unique flavors and perceived health benefits.

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