food and beverages

What We're Craving: Experiential Retail, Healthy Guts And Future Nostalgia

Every year we wait for the food anthropologists at Hartman Group to tell us what we’ve been eating.

Well, we knew, of course. But after digesting a year’s worth of data tracking and business changes, the Bellevue, Washington-based consulting company says these six emerged as the most meaningful trends in the food world -- and are likely to continue their influence in the year ahead.

*Regenerative Systems

Organic is nice, but those interested in sustainability know it doesn’t go far enough. They’re interested in companies helping to restore soil and increase biodiversity while humanizing the process. Its favorite example? Thrive Market expanding its selection of private brands promising “to actually improve our soil, clean up the air, and even help to reverse climate change.”



*Gut Health Nexus

We just can’t stop thinking about our gut, with a growing awareness of the microbiome’s connection to wellness -- and even mental health. Noting that the health concerns of the pandemic era fueled this fascination, Hartman expects savvy brands to continue to blend messaging about ingredients and functionality into tasty and fun products. Case in point: Ready-to-drink sparkling beverages, such as Olipop.

*Rethink Plastic

Consumers are increasingly aware of how little of America’s recycling gets recycled, fueling interest in brands that use little to no plastics in their packaging. Hartman says that 73% of consumers want less plastic but don’t know how to fulfill this desire. More brands are hoping to include “Plastic Neutral” certification.

*Experience Retail

While convenience and easy transactions are always important, Hartman says consumers are increasingly open to brands that make them slow down at retail, providing new experiences and different ways to shop.

The trend “invites the spectrum of engaged consumers to explore the latest formats and formulations in a highly curated setting—often by niche brands that began as D2C or as farmers market favorites.”

Erewhon, a Southern California favorite, encourages shoppers to learn about its extensive organic offers.

*Upcycled & Equitable

Products in this category also go beyond straightforward sustainability claims. They look for ethically sourced ingredients to restore local ecosystems, slow climate change and find new ways to reduce waste. Examples include GoodSam, promising products that are good for people and the planet, and pledges to “be an ally to small farms.”

*Future Nostalgia

More brands are finding fun -- and more responsible -- ways to resurrect childhood favorites. For example, Snow Days, a frozen-snack foods company, uses cassava root to make yummy gluten-free options.

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