Top Five Consumer Trends Shaping the Food Industry in 2018

Each year, we research food, ingredient and dining trends for the year ahead. In 2017, we focused on clean-label and natural ingredients as well as nonalcoholic beverages, protein-rich snacks and more. Below, we dive into the five biggest trends we believe consumers will look for in 2018.

  1. Transparency
    The natural and clean-label movement is not going anywhere. Today’s consumers are more informed and health conscious than any other generation, creating unique challenges for food companies as they aim to deliver high-quality products with natural and recognizable ingredients. In addition, other natural claims, such as organic, fresh, antibiotic-free, minimally processed and non-GMO, are being used more often in food product marketing, proving transparency to be an effective tactic in engaging with consumers.
  1. Convenience
    It is no surprise that today’s consumers are busier than ever. They want high-quality food and beverage products they can consume on the go. As a result, grocery stores are beginning to offer meal-kit options that provide quick and convenient solutions. In 2017, in-store meal kits surpassed more than $80 million in sales, and they are expected to reach more than $100 million by 2020, according to a recent report by Nielsen. In the coming year, it will be increasingly important for food production companies to provide consumers with convenient, high-quality food and beverage products.
  1. Innovation
    In addition to convenient dining options, consumers are increasingly focused on seeking out innovative meal options that are nutritious, tasty and “Instagram worthy.” Social and environmental issues are also top of mind for many of today’s consumers, especially as we prepare for a world population of 9 billion people. As a result, the food industry is seeking new, environmentally friendly food and beverage solutions. For example, the global market for dairy alternative drinks is expected to reach $16 billion in 2018, according to Innova Market Insights. By using science and innovative technology to advance certain recipes and ingredients, food production professionals can increase their chances of winning over health-conscious consumers.
  1. Guilt-Free Indulgence
    As more consumers seek natural and minimally processed products, the fermented foods craze shows no sign of slowing anytime soon. Now more than ever, food production professionals are repurposing their processes and applications to incorporate more fermentation and cold-brewing options, according to Innova Market Insights’ top five trends for 2018. From kombucha and kefir to kimchi and sauerkraut, gut-loving concoctions are sure to be a hit in the coming year — and the more innovative, the better.
  1. Culinary Heritage
    In its Top Six Food Trends for 2018, Campbell’s Culinary & Baking Institute predicts culinary heritage to be one of the most popular trends. With nearly 1 in 3 Americans consuming foods that contain multicultural flavors at least once a week, food production companies have an opportunity to capitalize on “the personal stories that define our food” by bringing culinary traditions to life.

As consumers’ eating and shopping habits continue to evolve, it is important for food production companies and retailers to ensure they are providing consumers with innovative, healthy and convenient products. Looking ahead, food production professionals should aim to use ingredients that fall under the categories mentioned above if they wish to build trust and gain buy-in from consumers in 2018.

Stay tuned for more insights for the year ahead.