- Millennials are leading a revolution in the food industry that has led to the loss of $18 billion for the top 25 U.S. food and beverage companies over the past five years, a topic discussed at Fortune’s Most Powerful Women summit.
- Part of this revolution has to do with advances in technology which have made information more readily available, coupled with a stronger desire for consumers to know and understand what is in their food.
- Smaller companies are also driving the charge as millennials and other consumer groups look to them for innovation and "the next big thing" in food and beverage.
Many major food and beverage companies have shown that they are not as nimble as smaller companies when it comes to adapting to consumer preferences, particularly the consumer health trend that has turned consumers away from processed foods and toward fresher foods and cleaner labels.
Millennials tend to want variety in product categories, flavors, packaging, and other innovations, such as turning traditional products into snack foods, and larger companies have struggled to offer those options with the same speed and agility that smaller companies can. Also important for major companies is to keep up with changes in ingredients trends, such as the rise of protein or fortification of vitamins and minerals in products.
As a result, acquisitions of smaller natural and organic companies by larger companies have become increasingly common.
Campbell Soup has bought four such companies over the past few years. Campbell president and CEO Denise Morrison told Fortune, "At Campbell’s, we talk about being the biggest small company. We kept all the founders at the four companies we acquired because they brought us great adrenaline."