Food trends for 2019: how the industry will respond to consumer behaviours

Harriet Jachec, Features Editor, FoodBev Media 

The trend of health and wellness is at the forefront of consumer behaviour, with purchasing power being driven by a more educated and well-informed market. This comes at a time when convenience is also a top priority, with mealtimes evolving to fit into the increasingly busy lifestyles of modern consumers.

But how does convenience alter the way products are perceived and consumed, especially given consumer awareness about nutrition?

Here’s a breakdown of our 2019 food trend predictions.

Health and wellness

Consumers are more knowledgeable than ever before about taking care of themselves. Food products being released in the next 12 months will not only seek to gain a healthier status, but reformulations and new products will also incorporate functional benefits.

This can be seen in the surge in popularity of protein-enhanced products, with a strengthening focus on alternative proteins such as pea and soy.

Functional benefits will also be carried through to products such as confectionery and baking to make the sectors more attractive in this age of health and wellness, with companies adding ingredients such as cannabidiol (CBD) to update their image for health-conscious consumers.

The baking sector will transform to bring vegan alternatives to products such as kits, in order for consumers with alternative diets to enjoy convenient ways to bake at home.

Plant-based alternatives

In keeping with the theme of health and wellness, plant-based alternatives are on the rise for a range of food products.

Changes in diet, such as moves towards veganism and flexitarianism, are becoming ever-popular. The Vegan Society, for example, found that the number of vegans in Britain has doubled twice in the past four years: from 0.25% (150,000) in 2014 to 1.16% in 2018 (600,000) .

The ‘mindful consumer’ seeks more than fads – they seek genuine ways to eat better for themselves and the planet.

This can include cutting down on meat, or cutting it out of diet choices completely. Along with this will come a surge in more accessible ways to enjoy food without the use of meat.

This may also lead to the inevitable changes in legislation surrounding labelling – such as the one seen in nut-based milk alternatives – causing food companies themselves to be mindful in their labelling choices.

Plant-based foods are already available in the form of plant-based burger, sausage, bacon and chicken dipper alternatives, but this will evolve in more ways than one: in reformulations and product alternatives. This also will serve as a reaction to concerns about the levels of sodium in plant-based alternatives.

Snacking

With changes in lifestyles, products released throughout 2018 have aimed to adhere to the fast-paced needs of the modern consumer. This includes meal kits and snacking pot versions of full-sized products.

According to the 2018 Nielsen report, ‘The Power of Snacking’ , traditional snacking products can be found in 1 in 2 of consumers’ FMCG baskets.

The snacking trend will continue, bringing with it new ways to enjoy previously less popular snacks, such as beef jerky. Products such as wagyu beef jerky, with flavour combinations such as black pepper, thyme, and truffle, will elevate the snacking sector and give consumers a sense of guilt-free indulgence.

Healthier ways of snacking will also arise, with sugar and sodium reductions giving products an extra edge amongst competitors.

Clean label

The clean label movement is consumer-focused, as it acknowledges the need for sustainably sourced food products which are and free of chemicals or additives.

More food brands will reformulate or create products to keep in line with clean label eating, as more consumers become aware of the ingredients that their foods consist of. According to a Neilsen report, 75% of global consumers share concerns about the long-term health impacts that artificial ingredients in their food may have .

Clean label initiatives such as Go Clean Label and the Clean Label Project promote the transparency of food labelling and the education of consumers in order to give them the tools needed to make well-informed purchase decisions.

Clean label foods will become more popular through education, just as products focussing on health and wellness have done so due to heightening awareness among consumers.

As more products claim to be clean label, guidelines will also arise in order to ensure claims are genuine. Authenticity and provenance is the key to this 2019 trend.

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