Over the past two years, the food manufacturing industry has faced significant challenges in meeting global demand. COVID-19 has shaken the global supply chains, exposed vulnerabilities with retailers, and impacted consumer behaviors. Despite these challenges, the food manufacturing industry has managed to keep food on the shelves while accommodating shifting customer demands.
This discussion of trends is broken down into two separate categories: consumer and industry trends. The consumer trends focus on the choices of current American consumers and how their preferences are changing. Immune-boosting foods, global cuisine, and omnivore diets are examples of how American consumers are shifting their preferences to be more informed, healthier, adventurous, and environmentally friendly. The second area of focus is from the lens of food manufacturing, as traceability, R&D and price changes are continuing to change food manufacturers’ roles in the supply chain.
2022 Food Industry Trends
Trend #1: Immune-boosting foods: a fragile health-food trend
Consumers making decisions around perceived health benefits is not a new trend, but we’re seeing an increasing percentage of consumers seeking foods that are probiotic, anti-inflammatory, and vitamin supplementary. During COVID-19, many shoppers sought food options that had a perceived benefit to boosting their immunity against sickness. Interests in immune-boosting foods such as turmeric, honey, and ginger have seen double-digit growth year-to-year compared to the pre-pandemic world, and product launches touting immune health rose by 18% compared to the year before.
Although there’s been a large uptick in the number of immune-boosting foods, the trend is very fragile, as only 20% of consumers state they will continue to seek out immunity-boosting supplements and food after the end of the COVID-19 pandemic. Furthermore, studies around immuno-health foods, especially those touting antioxidant properties, have found that most of the claims around health benefits are not supported by substantial scientific proof.
American consumers are becoming more informed on what they are eating and how food products affect their health. As such, it’s highly likely that they will demand scientific evidence to support claims around immunity. This, coupled with the FTC and FDA issuing warning letters to companies advertising false COVID-19 immunity claims, will create a high likelihood of rippling effects through the immune-boosting food sector.
Trend #2: Consumers prefer healthy and diverse food options
The American palate has seen a significant diversification in the last three decades. For example, the average grocery store has seen average SKUs increase from 7,000 in the late 1990s to a current average of 40,000. As our access to different food types expands, our perception of food has also changed. Foods once considered “ethnic” are becoming a commonplace in our everyday diets – hummus, now available in probably any grocery store, was once considered a global cuisine. Continue reading by downloading the full report below, and learn more about our Food Consulting Services here.
Read last year’s Food and Beverage Industry Trends Report here.
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Contributions by Bram Wathen