Following the tumultuous 2020 food and beverage industry, forecasting the future is a challenging endeavor. Some past insights will continue to impact 2021 and, probably, well beyond. Consumer-centric strategies drive F&B innovation.
FREMONT, CA: COVID-19 brought brand new problems to the Food &Beverage (F&B) industry, especially those concerning delivery, supply chain, and last-mile logistics. Keeping shelter in place considerably slowed down shopping, along with social distancing. People were forced to make more meals at home, using long-lasting, easy-to-store basic staples. Proactive grocery stores moved online with e-commerce. As the disease spread, F&B companies reevaluated their supply chains and business models and invested in new technologies to prepare themselves for the future. Below are eight crucial trends that aid shape the F&B industry in 2021.
Healthy Nourishments: COVID-19 increased consumers’ interest in foods that help their immune systems perform well. Innova Market Insights forecasts that immunity-boosting ingredients will play a significant role in 2021. Interest in the part of the microbiome and personalized nutrition in boosting immunity will also grow.
Food Habits: An estimated 80% of consumers have changed their eating and food preparation habits due to the pandemic. This is done using pre-packaged meal kits, restaurant-branded products, and enhanced or unique ingredients from artisan food producers.
Homely Benefit: Many people invested in kitchen appliances to save time during the pandemic. Air fryers and multi-cookers increased their sales by double digits last year, showing that many households now have these appliances in their possession.
Green foods: Plant-based foods and beverages is growing, extending beyond burgers. According to Food Industry Executive, snack, dip, sauce, cheese, spread, and creamery plant-based sales have seen “triple-digit growth.” Plant-based meal options are increasing, such as McDonald’s McPlant. Flavor solutions are specially formulated for plant-based food products.
Lucidity: COVID-19 has promoted consumers’ increasing desire for more transparency about product origin and supply chain history. Overall, consumers desire clarity throughout the supply chain in 2021. Transparency-enhancing technologies include RFID-based tracking of ingredients throughout the supply chain and wireless/intelligent technologies such as invisible barcodes.
Food safety: Food producers use blockchain and other IoT technologies to track food ingredients and finished products throughout the value chain and monitor environmental conditions during shipment. Blockchain is better equipped to keep track of a recall or safety incident.
Industry 4.0 tools: F&B manufacturers move towards “smarter” operations that boost supply chain and manufacturing efficiencies. IoT technologies include sensors that collect machine performance data, which is analyzed through cloud-based software. Other analytical tools can better gauge shelf life and product tracing. Real-time inline vision-based systems minimize variances and errors.
Longevity: With more experience having to do with managing the pandemic, attention can be returned to sustainability (for example, some environmentally-friendly practices, such as using reusable cups, were suspended for safety concerns).