We’re making our way through 2022, and if we’ve learned anything so far this year, it’s that there’s no going ‘back to normal’ anytime soon. Instead, industries around the globe are discovering a ‘new normal’ with different market preferences and spending priorities. CPG (consumer packaged goods) companies are working hard to stay on top of consumer trends. This commitment is especially true for food and beverage trends in 2022.
2022 already is bringing new sustainable practices, new technology expectations, and advanced health preferences.
Here are five leading food and beverage trends in 2022 that will shape the industry for the next several years.
1. Blockchain Technology
Blockchain technology is a top priority in the food and beverage industry right now. Its implementation is still new, but the benefits of this technology make it appealing to many suppliers.
Some of the potential benefits of blockchain traceability within the food and beverage industry include:
- Reduced food fraud
- Reduced food waste
- Improved consumer information
- Increased food safety
- Increased profitability among food suppliers
- Reduced costs for consumers
- Improved food traceability
Traceability is the key here. Part of the scrambling effort to fix the post-pandemic supply chain includes increased traceability rules from the FDA. As a result, multiple developers are now working on soon-to-be-released solutions for low-cost or no-cost traceability. In fact, a goal of the FDA’s New Era of Smarter Food Safety initiative is to achieve end-to-end traceability — from source to table. A few FDA Traceability Challenge winning ideas include:
- IoT sensor tags and improved tech (Roambee/GSM/Wiliot’s)
- Cloud-based and mobile app traceability software (HeavyConnect)
- Farm and distributor management software (FarmTabs, Freshly)
- Food source-tracing systems for consumers (Wholechain, Precise’s)
The use of blockchain technology to monitor and track food is quickly becoming mainstream – and suppliers would do well to explore its implementation.
2. Electric Kitchens
Replacing gas with electric alternatives has been a long game in both technological and environmental industries, but now we’re seeing that game rocket toward the finish. As of 2015, 25% of U.S. homes were considered fully electric. That number has continued to rise. Now that infrastructure cost reports indicate that electric replacements are more cost-effective than gas line repairs, both home and business owners are working to make the change.
Today, electric kitchens are taking over a larger segment of the market as technology improves. Previously, electric kitchens were a risk for larger establishments because specific foods and beverages required gas fire. New designs, however, like the new Microsoft Campus, incorporate chef-approved heating techniques. This means high-end chefs can have the cooking abilities they want with a 60% cut in energy costs.
What does this mean for the future of the food and beverage industry? Only time will tell. However, companies prioritizing sustainability likely will start to see newly available funds from their reduced energy use and ingenuity.
3. Emphasis on Sustainability
Sustainability is not a new trend in the food and beverage industry, but it is one that all companies and suppliers need to pay attention to. Right now, Millennials and Gen Z make up the majority of the purchasing market when it comes to food and beverages. Gen Z alone has an estimated purchasing power of $44 billion annually.
As these generations shape the market, sustainable practices are crucial to companies’ success. According to a recent report, food is one of Gen Z’s top spending priorities. That means they’re paying close attention to what they purchase, where it comes from, and companies’ values.
Positively-received practices for sellers and suppliers include local sales, eco-friendly packaging (moving away from single-use plastics), and transparency on labels. A large-scale related health concern that also could rise to the top is the inclusion of PFAS in packaging.
4. Plant-Based Foods
Vegetarians and vegans aren’t the only people looking for plant-based options anymore. With the price of meat soaring across the globe, plant-based options are becoming increasingly popular and necessary. According to a study by the National Restaurant Association and the American Culinary Federation, new plant-based products increased by 59% in the first six months of 2021 alone.
Support for production of plant-based products also stems from studies showing that younger generations are more likely to eat plant-based foods.
We’re seeing a visible response to plant-based food demand. Fast food chains like Burger King and Panda Express already offer plant-based options along with gluten-free buns and breads. Companies need to be prepared to meet this shift away from meat.
5. Health-Conscious Eating and Drinking
The COVID-19 pandemic affected every market in ways we’re still trying to understand. One of the major changes for the food and beverage industry is that people generally are being more health conscious. Some health trends are as expected: less meat, less fat, fewer carbs, etc. However, one newer trend has the potential to transform some beverage sectors.
Coined by Certified B Corp and Food Distributor, KeHE, consumers are becoming increasingly “sober-curious” and investing in alcohol-free beverages. During pandemic lockdowns, alcohol sales increased by as much as 20-40% in certain states. As we move forward, many previous drinkers are turning away from alcohol to save money and improve health.
These are our top five food and beverage trends in 2022.
Staying on top of consumer trends while maintaining profitability and fighting supply chain issues is a sizable undertaking. Partnering with a marketing research consultant who understands the market and your business needs is an effective way to help make smart choices for your company’s future.
With decades of experience in the food and beverage industry, Martec is ready to help you make better business decisions and maintain your company’s competitive edge. Contact us today for help with your next project.