One thing that humans need to consume every single day to survive in this world is food. That’s why when you look around you, you’ll be amazed that there are many restaurants, cafes, and food delivery businesses that cater to the discerning customer palate and forever changing customer desires. Competition is stiff in the food industry, with sellers trying to outdo each other. In this modern world, they have no other choice but to stay on top by utilizing emerging technological practices to help propel their business forward. On top of that, awareness of consumer preferences, rising costs, and innovation techniques relevant in this competitive industry are all essential elements that must be learned.
Take a look at the top trends and must-know statistics in the food manufacturing industry for 2021:
Driven by Food Safety and Transparency
One of the biggest issues last year that still sends shivers down the spine of manufacturers is the recall of millions worth of romaine lettuce. Having this staple vegetable pulled out of the grocery shelves reinforces the importance of food safety. As customers become smarter about what they put in their mouths, they also begin researching more about these products. Thus, it is more critical for food industries to immediately pinpoint issues because transparency is another essential component the continues to earn the clients their valuable trust. If companies are not transparent, they risk losing their clients because aside from the taste of food, the safety of food, and price of food, clients place value on the reputation of the companies to they decide to give their money to.
Relying on Innovation and Product Differentiation
If you look around you, there is a wide array of food products available for sale in many channels such as the ordinary retail store, local farmer’s markets, online sites, and social media like Instagram and FB. The market saturation and bombardment of food products mean that food manufacturers have to rely on innovation to craft better food items. Doing so will also set them apart from the pack, making their products easier to differentiate or stand out from the others that are in the market. Companies are compelled to release trending flavors and to utilize vibrant packaging to make themselves different and establish their brand image. The trending Thanksgiving Flavored Pringles and the new Chobani Yogurt label design and nifty packaging are just some key examples.
Impact of Rising Uncertainty
There is growing uncertainty in the food market, with the tariff and global trade issues or tensions carried over from last year. These same issues continue to occupy the market this year, and along with it comes the offshoot of rising costs. To illustrate, the Chinese tariffs have created excess supplies and have continued to drive down the other prices of goods like soybean and pork. Some of these other rising uncertainties are the higher cost of labor, shifting labor market, driver shortage in the food truck industry, and the like. Currently, there are a few food companies that are not able to deliver on schedule because of this truck driver problem. Food manufacturers must continue to search for innovative solutions, so they can manage their costs well and still be able to grow.
Functional Foods Become More Popular
Food is now no longer seen as just something to ease hunger. With a rise in medical issues, consumers are now more cautious about the things they put in their mouths. As a result, functional food items have become more prominent in the consumer market. These healthy food items, with a double purpose of fortifying the body to make people healthy, are no longer just a novel niche segment. Now, the functional food market is set to advance close to eight percent yearly until 2012, as stated according to a report from Technavio. This is due to people’s interest in protecting and preserving their health. As a result, there are healthier ingredients in packaged products, food in restaurants, and the like. To illustrate, probiotics were a popular beverage before; these days, probiotics are added to stuff like water, dried fruits, cereal, and more.
Nowadays, consumers are willing to pay extra for those food items that are said to be more nutritious. In fact, they are known to go the extra mile to search for these healthy products. Functional ingredients in food will continue to have a stronghold in the industry. It will continue to dominate as consumers demand quick, healthy, and all-encompassing solutions. Those food products that are able to offer multiple health benefits are those that successfully grab consumer attention, and as such, they make a mark in the industry.
Say Hello to Cannabis
Just recently, President Trump signed the Farm Bill, where the cultivation of hemp, which is a part of the cannabis family, becomes legal. Derivatives of hemp like cannabinoids or CBD, which is popular for treating anxiety and intense pain, are no longer considered as a part of the banned narcotics list. This is good news for manufacturers and consumers who have been wanting to have this ingredient included in their daily food products. Companies are looking forward to incorporating CBD on meal items, snacks, and even beverages so that many people can benefit from it. It will no longer be a surprise when grocery carts eventually become packed with items laced with CBD.This goes in line with the desire of consumers to take in more types of fortified and functional food items that have the ability to benefit their physical looks, promote gut health, fuel brainpower, and/ or relieve their anxiety, pain, and stress.
Increased Demand for Plant-Based Meat
Plant-based meat products had a drastic increase last year, and they are expected to surpass this level this year because of their increased popularity. With people becoming more health-conscious, many consumers have shifted to a plant-based diet. Hence, there is a need for plant-based meat that goes beyond the usual veggie burger. Looking at the grocery shelves, products like Quorn veggie chicken nuggets, minced “meat,” and veggie dogs have taken center stage because they are healthier alternatives to the usual favorites. To make things even better, they taste just as good as their real meat counterparts, so they appeal not just to vegetarians but to actual real meat-eaters, too. These products were specifically designed to give people options that do not sacrifice the taste, look, and feel of meat. According to market research companies Nielsen and Spins, as noted in the Good Food Institute site, the current value of today’s plant-based food market is worth a staggering 4.1 billion dollars. Information from Nielsen and the Plant-Based Foods Association encapsulate that plant-based meat totaled 670 million dollars in sales, which is a 24% increase when compared to the data of 2017. Manufacturers intend for these figures to grow this year.
Leveraging on Technology
Large companies are now looking to emerging technologies to help them innovate and craft better products. For instance, Kraft Heinz opened a new digital hub, so they can create digitally powered strategies and help launch new food ideas that can successfully capture a huge segment of the market. Moreover, technologies like blockchain will continue to gain popularity as more food companies try to become a part of this trend. As more managers become aware of the benefits of blockchain in the food industry, everyone in the food chain supply will tap into this technology. From growers, manufacturers, distributors, and more will make the smart decision of leveraging technology to propel their businesses forward. After all, there is no denying that the modern world is dependent on many technological advancements, and it has even affected how humans interact and live their lives.
The Rise of Clean Labels
With everything just a Google search away, food products are pressured to come out with their version of clean labels. These labels contain information about what is in the food items, how it is made, and by whom it is made. This is due to the desire of “clean eaters” to protect their health and wellness. Nowadays, if consumers cannot have access to this information, they will have no qualms about not purchasing the food product. So much emphasis is now placed on information; that’s why manufacturers are pressured to create high-quality products that do not adversely impact health.
Demand for Exotic Flavors
Flavor and taste have always been the name of the game in the food industry. No matter how healthy manufacturers make a food product, if it doesn’t taste good, people will never buy that item again. Catering to discriminating taste buds that are picky and choosy has always been the primary goal. Thanks to technology that has bridged time and space, along with the buzz of wanderlust, people have become more educated and receptive to other cultures. This influx of new ideas and lifestyles bring with it trending and more exotic flavors. As a result, companies feel more pressured to come up with more variety and depth to their food offerings so that they can cater to this demand for a wider variety. If they do not do it, some other company will, and that just poses a huge threat.
With the many environmental campaigns that have been drilled in various media platforms, consumers are now looking for more sustainability in the practices and processes of the food industry. From food packaging to the production line, shoppers are now willing to pay more just so they can feel like they are more green. The desire to help the environment has given rise to more earth-friendly food processing and packaging. It is vital for companies to shift their ways, so they will continue to have a competitive edge that will earn them more loyal clientele and profits.