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Ever-changing consumer demand is driving an increasing velocity of innovation in the food and beverage industry. Food and beverage companies are trying to keep consumers by making predictive decisions on product categories and product development based on data and trends.

The following are six trends that are shaping the food and beverage industry.

Environmental Sustainability

Agricultural production has been estimated to contribute 32% of the greenhouse gas emissions in the world and nearly 40% of all food produced for human consumption becomes waste. Nearly 45% of all material landfilled in the United States is derivative of food and food packaging.

This is not sustainable for the environment and consumers are demanding food and beverage manufacturers to not only curb waste, but also support initiatives that help reduce the overall environmental impact of their industry.

Hyper-Local

The concept of farm-to-table is not new. In fact, the number of farmers markets in the United States has increased over 100% in the last decade providing consumers with fresher and locally sourced products.

However, state and regional products are not enough as consumers demand products made by producers or harvested by farmers in their own towns, communities, and neighborhoods. Geographic brand proximity and supporting small business seem to be the prevailing reasons why food and beverage choices are becoming hyper-local.

Plants

The negative impact of consuming too much meat and the adverse impact that cattle farming has on the environment are profound. Vegetarian and vegan consumers—and other consumers looking for meat alternatives—have had few options with respect to meat-mimicking products.

Now, companies like Beyond Meat are making significant strides in creating plant-based meat products. The use of plant-based proteins does not necessarily stop with meats, though. Food manufacturers are using legumes, hemp seeds, chia seeds, leafy greens, beats, and spirulina to create new plant-based protein products and imitate existing products like cheese, yogurt, and milk.

Functional Beverages

Increasing consumption of probiotics as means to improve health and wellness is a driving force behind the functional beverage market. Kombucha, the most widely recognized functional beverage, was a $1.5 billion global market in 2017 and is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 17.5% over the next 5 years.

Other products such as vinegars, kefir, and probiotic juices are emerging to capitalize on this functional beverage and health and wellness trend. Consumers substituting functional beverages for sodas will also continue to drive this product category.

E-Commerce

As food and beverage companies explore white space and look to reinvent dated products in lagging categories, the number of overall food and beverage SKUs is increasing at what seems to be an exponential rate.

However, the amount of real estate and shelf space with traditional brick and mortar retailers remains somewhat flat and is becoming increasingly more competitive to access. Amazon and its acquisition of Whole Foods is disrupting the food and beverage supply chain.

And while the percentage of food and beverage sales online is relatively low, food and beverage companies are gravitating towards e-commerce strategies in order to get their products in the hands of consumers.

Big Data

Big data has transformed just about every conceivable business sector in the world. The food and beverage industry is no different. Food and beverage manufacturers, distributors, and retailers are using big data for a whole host of reasons, namely operational efficiency, consumer sentiment analytics, market basket analysis, and consumer preferences.

As our lives become increasingly more interconnected, savvy food and beverage companies will continue to mine big data to keep a competitive edge.

 

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