For years we’ve talked about the shifts in behavior summed up in this statement: “more than ever, people want higher quality food and beverage experiences to go along with their higher quality lifestyles.” This condition is now pervasive and will inform those who grow and those who experience challenges in their core businesses.
We have reached the tipping point – when shifts and sea change move from tertiary audiences to larger segments of the population and thus impact the long-term fortunes of businesses on either side of this continuum. Said more simply, there will be winners and losers in the year ahead.
Our “2015 Emerging Food Trend Forecast” series will cover the top four food and beverage industry mega-trends for this year and implications for brand marketing and communications.
1. Quality is the New Healthy
For eons it seems, the path to better-for-you in the era of packaged, convenient solutions has always been addition by subtraction; typified by formulation changes or adjustments that take something away in order to adjust nutritional metrics and improve perceived nutritional benefits.
Less sugar, lower salt, reduced calories – whatever the “bad thing” du jour – was usually addressed by removal of x and substitutions of y.
Now we’ve come full circle to a place where addition by addition has taken hold. The word healthy is now attributed to higher quality, real and fresh foods and beverages from less processed sources – and these are now the measuring sticks by which consumers define better-for-you. Ironically and in equal measure, is an intertwining of indulgent and healthy attributes. Butter is back, as well as other “good” fats. So is whole milk. Taken in moderation, food choices emphasizing real ingredients and flavor experiences now trump claims for reduced, lower and whatever-free.
By way of example, Food Navigator claims that protein is now the leading benefit of all benefits – a nod to its sustained energy, muscle support and weight management contributions. This is a clear sign of the shift underscoring why real food ingredients from local/regional sources – both proteins and produce – secures traction. The messages change with it touting claims such as:
- From respected providers
- Higher quality
- Sustainably raised
- Less processed
- And, on the label, shorter ingredient statements
The sophistication in cooking skills, taste preferences and desire for new flavors and cuisines are at unprecedented levels and supports this sea change to raise the quality bar.
Look for our next installment: Evolution in Supermarkets and the Rise of Groceraunt
Bob Wheatley is the CEO of Chicago-based Emergent Healthy Living. Emergent provides integrated brand strategy, communications and insight solutions to national food, beverage, home and lifestyle companies. Emergent’s unique and proprietary transformation and growth focus helps organizations navigate, engage and leverage consumers’ desire for higher quality, healthier product or service experiences that mirror their desire for higher quality lifestyles. For more information, contact [email protected] and follow on Twitter @BobWheatley.