Food marketers, take note of these trends shaping the future of the food and beverage industry:
Hypercustomization: Customizing food products based on a person’s unique biomarkers sounds like a pipe dream — but in reality, it’s not far down the pipeline to fruition.
•There are companies that analyze food allergies via at home blood kits.
•Thanks to artificial intelligence, a person’s biological information can be analyzed, paving the way for food and meal plans that are hyperspecific to their data dietary needs.
•A restaurant serving 3D-printed sushi is slated to open this year, offering diners custom dishes based on their biodata, to be analyzed prior to their reservation.
•Technology such as blockchain can trace the supply chain of foods from origin, ingredients and processing, giving consumers the ability to track the food on their plates from the beginning stages.
Back to Nature: Wild food, as opposed to farm-raised, has gained in popularity for consumers. Taking it a step further is sustainable harvesting, which turns invasive items like weeds into tomorrow night’s main course.
•Scientific discoveries touting the health benefits of mushrooms have turned the fungi into a sought-after addition to frozen desserts and smoothies.
•Restaurants are beginning to grow their own produce via on-site gardens. On a grander scale, farming has modernized with the help of vertical and indoor farming methods.
•Bitters is the new black. More beverages and foods are incorporating a sour taste due to the demand from consumers for tang and the touted digestive health benefits associated with pickled and fermented products.
Altruistic Food: When consumers see corporate social responsibility in action, they support these companies of change.
•Companies like PepsiCo and General Mills regularly work with food banks to fight hunger and deliver meals nationally and internationally.
•When natural disasters strike, brands including Kellogg’s and Tyson work with the Federal Emergency Management Agency to feed affected individuals.
•Plastic is a scourge upon our planet, and companies know they need to do better to handle its impact. In January 2019, more than 250 food and drink companies, including Nestlé, Unilever, The Coca-Cola Company and Pernod Ricard, signed the New Plastics Economy Global Commitment. The organization’s goal is that, by 2025, 100% of plastic packaging can be safely reused, recycled or composted.
Disaster Farming: The planet can only grow enough fresh fruits and vegetables to feed two-thirds of the current global population. With this dire notion, companies have sprung into action to develop alternative farming methods.
•Along with the aforementioned indoor and vertical farming, gene editing has also served as a breakthrough to improve food production in a climate-changing world.
•Precision fermentation is producing animal proteins more efficiently via microbes and could replace gelatin, collagen and eggs in the long run. Fungus-based protein can be produced with less processing than plant-based products.
Restaurants Without Restaurants: Delivery, takeout and drive-through orders now account for 60% of restaurant “outings,” and their growth continues to climb.
•Restaurants like Wendy’s use ghost kitchens — restaurants with no brick-and-mortar presence — to meet the high demand of takeout and delivery, while also servicing areas where they haven’t opened a location.
•Delivery services Uber Eats works with more than 1,600 virtual restaurants in 300 cities.
What do you see as the next big food trend?