Patrick Nycz is President of NewPoint, a full-service food and beverage marketing agency, and author of Moving Your Brand Up the Food Chain.
As a food and beverage marketing agency owner, I know to stay on top of F&B trends. The industry is a highly competitive intersection of constantly evolving trends, fluctuating consumer tastes and innovation. I was so moved by the massive market share shift away from “big food” to locally sourced food that I even wrote a book about it.
So, what are the most prominent food and beverage trends in retail and foodservice today? And what steps can you take to address them better?
The Rise Of Plant-Based Meats (And Flexitarianism)
Over half of young Americans surveyed now describe themselves as “flexitarian,” with 43% of poll respondents indicating flexitarianism as a permanent lifestyle change. Veganism and vegetarianism are also on the rise. There are many reasons for this phenomenon, including a greater tendency to consider eating meat unethical or less ethical than eating plant matter.
In any case, plant-based meats are becoming more common, and more people are looking for places where they can buy or consume plant-based foods. Therefore, if you offer a more comprehensive range of options, you can appeal to these demographics without necessarily alienating any meat eaters in your target audience.
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• Offer more flexible eating options.
• Showcase your plant-based meats.
• Appeal to younger audiences.
The Transition To Digital Shopper Marketing
Depending on how you want to define it, shopper marketing has been around for decades. But only now are retail and foodservice brands starting to tap into the power of digital shopper marketing. In case you aren’t familiar, shopper marketing is an approach that allows you to cater to a niche target audience and provide them with meaningful experiences across the customer journey.
Capitalizing on the effectiveness of shopper marketing means better understanding your audience and better targeting them as they discover your brand, begin interacting with your brand and make their first food product purchase with you. Digital shopper marketing uses a number of digital marketing strategies, including SEO, social media marketing and remarketing for this purpose.
• Map your customer journey and develop new strategies for each phase.
• Get to know your audience well and specifically target them.
• Experiment and revise your approach.
While 77% of consumers purchase processed foods and beverages at least sometimes, a growing number of consumers favor unprocessed and minimally processed products. Like with flexitarianism, there are several reasons for the emergence of this trend. Some people are interested in eating “healthier,” while others feel more confident knowing exactly what they’re putting into their bodies.
Whatever the motivation, you can benefit by offering products with limited processing.
• Avoid overly processed food products and ingredients.
• Embrace “farm to table.”
• Improve transparency.
Local And Sustainable Farming
As I mentioned above, this was the inspiration for my book. But the local and sustainable movement has grown. It’s no secret that consumers are starting to demand more sustainable products in every industry. Growing concerns about global climate change and human beings’ impact on our environment are the primary motivating factors. Sourcing local ingredients and practicing more sustainability are the path to better appealing to these audiences.
• Work with local farmers.
• Improve energy efficiency (at all operational levels).
• Prove your positive environmental impact.
The Worker Shortage
Retail and foodservice businesses all over the country are dealing with a massive worker shortage. The shortage itself is attributable to many factors, including the changing dynamics of consumer behavior due to the Covid-19 pandemic, concerns about inflation and dissatisfaction with current wages, and general societal malaise.
If you want to continue operating during this shortage, these are some of the best approaches.
• Raise wages or offer other benefits.
• Create a more hospitable work environment.
• Advertise your job openings in new ways.
• Embrace automation and eliminate some need for human workers.
• Cut hours to save money and maximize existing labor value.
Many of these trends will continue well into the future; it’s easy to imagine a future in which more people convert to vegetarianism and more people favor sustainable farming. On the other hand, some of these trends will disappear; in a few short years, the worker shortage may be a thing of the past.
But no matter what, if you want your business to remain relevant and continue operating efficiently, you need to stay abreast of the latest trends and be willing to allow your business to evolve accordingly.
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Author: Patrick Nycz, Forbes Councils Member