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12 Tasty Trends for the Food and Beverage Industry in 2017

In today’s digital age, information is being discovered and disseminated at extraordinary rates. The public’s increasing knowledge of the world around them has caused major shifts in the way people think about everything, including what they eat and drink.

For your food or beverage brand, the rapid rate of change in the preferences and demands of your customers can be a source for one of two things: anxiety or inspiration. Staying on top of the evolving trends in the industry will help your business circumvent any problems involved with unexpected market shifts, and keep you on the track of growth and prosperity in 2017.

Below, we have come up with the top 12 food and beverage industry trends for 2017. Rather than allowing fear of change and uncertainty to drive your food or beverage company’s decisions, use these shifts in consumer values as an exciting opportunity to rejuvenate your business and make consumers hungry for your products on the upcoming year.

 

1. Organic Foods

As people have become more aware of the benefits and drawbacks of the food they put into their bodies, eating organic foods has become a popular health trend. In 2016, the organic food industry’s sales increased to $43.3 billion, according to the Organic Trade Association’s 2016 Organic Industry Survey. Much of this increase came from the production of organic produce and juices.

Being able to label your product as Certified Organic will play well to this customer base. Additionally, being certified by a group like the Non-GMO Project will gain you even more credibility in the current health-conscious market.

 

 

2. Food Sensitivities

Riding the same waves of the health-consciousness craze is the public’s heightened awareness of food sensitivities. While allergens have always been a cause for dietary restrictions, people are now honing in on their food sensitivities as well when deciding which foods to eat and which to avoid.

Plant-based dairy products are becoming increasingly popular, which is understandable considering that 75% of the world’s adult population lacks the enzymes needed to properly digest lactose. Gluten-free options have also emerged in nearly every food category. Exploring the use of alternatives to popular (but for some, painful) foods will be a great way to stay ahead of the competition in 2017.  

 

Dairy free alternatives are available for anything from milk to protein powder.

 

3. The Global Consumer

With an increasingly globalized society, there have been and continue to be unprecedented transfers of information between cultures all over the world: ideas, innovations, music, language, and of course, food.

It is no wonder, then, that U.S. consumers’ palettes have developed a taste for cuisine from cultures around the world. Food and beverage manufacturers can target these consumers by incorporating bold spices and unconventional ingredients into their products. Bringing traditional products or recipes from other cultures into the local markets and eateries of your customers will keep them craving your company’s unique offerings.  

 

4. New FDA Regulations

Most companies in the food and beverage industry are already aware that new FDA requirements will go into effect over the course of the next few years, which will have major implications on food and beverage brands. The new FDA regulations for nutrition fact labels and PHOs (partially hydrogenated oils) could pose problems to some producers.

Staying ahead of the game and making the changes now before the compliance dates arrive will put your business in a position where they will not have to scramble to make these changes at the last minute. Better yet, being one of the first brands to comply with the new standards entitles your brand to bragging rights, which can help set you apart from the competition.

5. Functional Foods

People don’t just eat mindlessly for flavor anymore -- they are attentive to the potential their food has to change how they feel, and will actually go out of their way to incorporate ingredients into their diets that are good for them. This is confirmed by society’s increased interest in “functional foods,” found a 2016 food trends report run by Google.

The report details how Google used data on search queries to discover an increase in searches for ingredients that may be considered unusual, but provide some added health benefit. Ingredients such as turmeric, apple cider vinegar, and bone broth are among some of the top rankers for these searches.

 

6. Alternative Beverages

On the same note as functional foods, alternative beverages are generating serious thirst in the beverage industry market. Alternative beverages include any non-alcoholic drink that uses eccentric ingredients, usually a “functional” ingredient that promotes some sort of health benefit.

Take kombucha, for example. Before this trend took off, most people would probably turn up their nose at the thought of “fermented tea”. However, the benefits boasted by kombucha beverages are enough to make consumers overlook the oddity of the drink, which is projected to reach $4.46 billion over the next seven years.

 

7. Food Waste Reduction

Have you heard about the root-to-stalk cooking trend? If not, you will soon enough. This is a new culinary practice in which the cook uses every part of a product, instead of harvesting the parts of it they find valuable and then chucking the rest.

Finding interesting and innovative ways to use ingredients that may have previously been ignored is a great way to experiment. A perfect example of this cooking technique is the use of chard stalk in gourmet cuisine.

 

 The vibrant colors of chard stalk make it an eye catching addition to any meal.

 

8. Eco-Friendly Foods

People are aware of the effects their consumption can have on the environment, and are now actively avoiding certain brands and opting for more “eco-friendly” ones. Using biodegradable/reusable packaging, utilizing local ingredients when possible, or “greening” your product distribution process are just a few ways to make your company enticing to those who are interested in brands that are better for the planet.

 

9. Online Grocery Shopping

As more and more of our commerce moves into the realm of the digital world, it is no surprise that online grocery shopping platforms have simultaneously begun to gain stronger traction.

This trend can take on the form of a grocery delivery service, like the Peapod program that has been around for over two decades, or newer programs like Amazon’s Prime Pantry. These programs have completely changed the way shoppers think about and purchase food, so it follows suit that those who are producing that food should also rethink their own processes and find ways to get involved with these programs.

Another similar delivery service that has emerged recently is the meal kit delivery service from companies like Blue Apron. These companies have taken the idea of grocery delivery one step further, by providing consumers with everything they need and nothing they don’t in order to prepare gourmet, homemade meals. These services are worth keeping an eye on, as they have strong appeal to people interested in reducing food waste and exploring their culinary skills but don’t have the time or desire to figure out how to prepare these meals on their own.

 

A post shared by Blue Apron (@blueapron) on  

One example of the delicious, sustainable meals Blue Apron provides ingredients for.

 

10. Dining Alone

The prevalence of single person households is steadily on the rise, with 27% of Americans reportedly living alone in 2013, according to data provided by the census bureau.

This statistic is remarkably important to the food and beverage business, as it means a considerable portion of the population is purchasing groceries to feed one mouth rather than preparing entire meals for multiple members of a household. Smaller portion sizes or packaging that allows for longer term food preservation are specifically valuable to this demographic.

 

11. Shareability

It is a well known fact that many people nowadays spend countless hours scrolling through social media accounts. With this in mind, many companies have made the leap to engaging with consumers via social media channels such as Instagram, Twitter, and Snapchat.

Some consumers have (perhaps unknowingly) started participating in what could be considered free marketing for some brands by posting their own pictures or testimonials to their personal accounts for all of their friends and followers to see. Thus, having a product that consumers see as “shareable” is imperative in our digital age.

 

 

Altering the actual appearance of your product isn’t the only way to generate shareability. Increase your company’s social media presence by starting a hashtag campaign, and feature buyer’s posts on your own page and website! The free endorsement will aid in generating brand awareness, and your company will have an easy method of discovering who is talking about your products.

 

12. Flexitarianism

From Meatless Mondays to Wheatless Wednesdays, the idea of a flexible, health-conscious diet has fared well amongst Americans. They understand the importance of eating food that is better for them and for the planet, but still aren’t ready to give up their favorite burger and fries they indulge in every once in awhile. In this gray area is where flexitarianism has emerged as a diet perfect for the enlightened omnivore. 

Brands that carry products that can be used as meat substitutes (such as soy, seitan, etc.) are improving the taste and texture of these foods, and other companies that may not have previously existed in the vegetarian and vegan markets have begun to provide meatless options to some classic products. This enables these businesses to avoid alienating an entire meat-free demographic of buyers that coexist with their carnivorous counterparts.

 

Based on the emerging trends plus what has been seen in years past, we can infer that 2017 will be an exciting, innovative year for the food and beverage industry. To stay ahead of competitors, experiment with some of these trends and ensure your company’s continued growth and profitability over the next 365 days!

 

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Melissa Sonntag

Melissa is a recent graduate of Northeastern University and a content marketing specialist at Repsly, Inc. She is committed to applying her skills in order to bring value to Repsly readers and customers. Outside of work, Melissa enjoys practicing yoga, making music, and anything dog-related.

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