Equity: Consumer outcry keeps pushing for greater support and representation of the most diverse generations to date in the food and beverage industry
-- Inclusive nutrition in the wellness industry is expanding, with new brands and platforms eliminating cost barriers, and high-quality nutritional supplements becoming available at more approachable prices.
-- Because an alarming number of U.S. restaurants could go out of business, help is coming from big brands and incubators. Mercato Partners’ new investment fund, Savory, provides emerging restaurateurs with a host of financial and other services.
-- Small and medium-sized businesses are getting
support from Walmart Marketplace, a partnership with Shopify that provides complimentary product offerings. Costco’s new commitment to the nonprofit Local Initiatives Support Corp’s Black
Fund aims to close the racial wealth gap by encouraging investments designed to improve economic opportunity for Blacks.
Climate diets: With 64% of consumers wanting to reduce their carbon footprint, carbon-positive practices are becoming more prevalent.
-- Quorn Foods’ labeling on its food products position carbon emissions as a health consideration alongside nutritional information, while Horizon Organic aims to be the first national dairy brand to become carbon-positive across its full supply chain.
-- With nearly two thirds of the world’s citizens residing in cities by 2050, alternate productions such as Goldsmith’s floating poultry farm and Brooklyn Range’s rooftop soil farms represent how companies and consumers are rethinking how they build and use space.
-- New technologies designed to simulate (or stimulate) nature include Israeli start-up Edete, which harvests flowers and pollinates almond trees using tree-shaking machines to mimic the function of bees, and Pennsylvania-based GIANT retail grocer’s seven-acre, pollinator-friendly solar field at its corporate headquarters -- the first of its kind by a grocery retailer.
Digitizing supply: The standout topic of 2020 transformed ecommerce from auxiliary to essential activity, and big-box stores shifted to reconstruct underperforming retail properties into fulfillment centers.
-- Microfulfillment, an exceptional alternate solution for supermarkets, offers them the ability to pick orders 10 times faster and more efficiently than human workers.
-- Retail grocer H-E-B partnered with Swisslog to develop smaller, modular microfulfillment centers using a system that groups and stacks product bins according to demand, placing them in the most accessible spots to accelerate picking times.
-- Flowspace maintains one of the country’s largest warehousing and fulfillment platforms, facilitating unused warehouse space rental and offering software to manage and move inventory to customers. During 2020, the company doubled its workforce.
Plant power: Phytonutrients, the plant-based compounds that assist with the prevention of chronic disease and help maintain and modulate immune function, continue to be mined for new products.
-- Upcycled rapeseed is a new alternative to soy, with comparable or better nutritional benefits. BlackGrain represents one of the first rapeseed-based plant protein and fiber powders, and DSM is one of the first brands to produce a commercially viable production process and product from canola, a derivative of the rapeseed plant.
-- The algae food & beverage market may exceed $5 billion in the next five years, due to its success as a sustainable, plant-based protein alternative. Business partnerships such as Algenuity’s partnership with Unilever Foods and algal ingredient supplier Corbion’s with Nestlé are creating more accessible, plant-based products.
-- The classification of specific phytonutrients through AI will play a key role in expanding our knowledge and usage of their dietary benefits, and allow companies to produce new products to support the explosion of consumer interest.