Throughout my many years in the food industry, certain things have stayed the same while others seem to be continually changing. Increased consumer demands play a large role in the transformation that we've seen in recent years. How are companies evolving to meet consumer needs and food industry trends?
Top 3 Food Industry Trends of 2018
1. Convenience is Key
Convenience continues to be a major driving factor in food industry trends - and it isn’t slowing down anytime soon. Busy lifestyles and with less time in the day, families and individuals look for quick, easy options for their meals and snacks.
The food industry is focused on providing consumers with the ability to make home-cooked meals without the hassle of grocery shopping and food preparation. Even retail stores are expanding their selections to include convenience foods like meal kits and ready meals. This also means catering to various lifestyles and diets from vegetarian to gluten free.
Consumers are willing to pay a premium for the convenience and customization that these choices provide, and we need to be prepared to meet the demand.
2. Healthy Eating is on the Rise
Many people are choosing a healthier lifestyle through food and exercise, and I'm no exception. Consumers in recent years have become more aware of health issues like diabetes, heart health, obesity and other diseases. Education on these topics has sparked a worldwide conversation about choosing the right foods.
From poultry to seafood to snacks, protein-rich diets continue to be a priority for consumers. Animal protein is set to hit 64% of total added protein purchased globally by 2020, according to Euromonitor. In addition, plant-based proteins are beginning to gain more traction. Large companies like Tyson Food are investing in meat-free alternatives made from plant-based proteins like soya and peas so that they can cater to this growing market. This is likely just the beginning of companies diversifying their portfolios to meet the needs of health-conscious consumers.
3. Increasing Focus on Food Safety
The demand for fresh foods and proteins is increasing, but at the same time our food is traveling further than it ever has before. Around 50% of protein production is located in the US, Brazil and Australia, creating a need for food to travel across borders.
Keeping food fresh and safe is a priority and many companies are focusing on transparency throughout the supply chain to meet these needs. The demand for vacuum packaging is also increasing because of its ability to keep food fresher for longer. This is especially important with the e-commerce trend of rapidly increasing home delivery of fresh protein items.
At the end of the day, as consumer demands change, the need for convenient, healthy, safe meals and food selections will only increase. Looking ahead, I'm sure we'll see more news and evolution in the food industry.