How manufacturers are getting on trend with imperfect and plant-based foods

Dive Brief:

  • Beverage design and development firm Mattson has revealed several macro trends to keep an eye on in 2017 and beyond, according to Forbes. These five trends trends include consumer desire for imperfect products, smart kitchens and appliances, plant-based meat alternatives, new forms of retail, and consumer trust in food activism over experts. 
  • "The end result is that our perception and definition of food is changing and the momentum towards a cleaner food ethos is being defined as wholesome and real," Barb Stuckey, president and COO of Mattson, wrote.
  • Many of these trends have already begun to transform the food industry, and food manufacturers and grocery retailers will need to adapt to changing consumer sentiment in order to remain competitive in a new food age. 

Dive Insight:

One of the biggest trends that Mattson identified is consumer demand for "perfectly imperfect packaged foods." Perfect colors, textures and flavors are no longer of interest to younger demographics — they view these once-sought after attributes as inauthentic and uninteresting. Because of this, food manufacturers have already begun experimenting with grittier textures and unusual flavors, and many have added new texturizing agents to their product formulas.

Ingredion recently published a report about how food and beverage manufacturers are developing fresh concepts that appeal to an evolving base of consumers, with texture being a major trend.

Another trend Mattson identified is the rise of smart technology in the kitchen, where IoT will make it easier to shop through connected appliances and devices. Smart refrigerators that help create shopping lists, and garbage cans that add items to shopping lists when empty packaging is thrown away are just two examples of this movement in action.

Consumer interest in plant-based foods is another movement that's shaping food manufacturing. Distrust of red meats and the belief that plant-based proteins and other meat alternatives are healthier than traditional protein vehicles are pushing manufacturers to roll out vegetarian products. Tyson acquired a 5% stake in Beyond Meat, a major plant-based protein company, signaling the power of this trend. A recent study by Wakefield Research also revealed that 55% of U.S. consumers expected to eat more plant-based foods this year.

Consumers aren't just looking to change up the foods they buy, either. They want a revamped grocery experience as well. Online shopping and subscription meal delivery services are on the rise thanks to Instacart, Amazon Prime Now, Google Fresh and similar e-tailers.  One only needs to look at the success of Amazon Go to understand that consumers are ready for change when it comes to shopping, and convenience is at the top of their list.

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Filed Under: Manufacturing Grocery Beverages Sustainability
Top image credit: Maja Petric