Here we are in January. A new year. A new president. A new outlook on what lies ahead.
From my vantage point, several food and beverage industry trends will continue to roll through 2017, while a handful of scattered ideas find fertile ground and growth potential.
So, what trends from the past 12 months will ride momentum into the new year? First on the list: Clean label. We’ve seen the simplification of food labels take shape for a couple of years. In 2016, the trend became evident to a larger industry segment. Across categories, new product launches have addressed clean label and simple ingredient trends with intention. Moving into 2017, the clean label movement will swell along with tangential trends in organic foods and transparency in food processing.
According to a recent release from Innova Market Insights, clean label stands out as a force in the immediate future of the food and beverage industry.
“The rules have been rewritten and clean and clear label is the new global standard. The demand for total transparency now incorporates the entire supply chain, as a clean label positioning becomes more holistic.”
Next on the list: Plant-based foods. Food ingredient technology in the realm of vegetarianism has come a long way since the early days of clumpy frozen black bean burgers. These days plant-based dairy-free products and meat alternatives appeal to a wider consumer base who don’t necessarily demand that their protein intake come from animal sources.
Mintel recently acknowledged the pertinence of plant-based food trends.
“The preference for natural, simple and flexible diets will drive further expansion of vegetarian, vegan and other plant-focused formulations. In 2017, the food and drink industry will welcome more products that emphasize plants as key ingredients.”
The important and more general notion of disruption is a practice that is set to become more nuanced in the coming year. Disruption won’t take the shape of a battering ram breaking down traditional systems and processes. Rather, I look for our current idea of disruption to morph into a sophisticated mechanism that studies convention and transforms it from the inside. That is to say, progressive companies will begin to integrate disruptive triggers into their processes in an effort to maintain flexibility and responsiveness to sudden shifts in consumer behavior.
Smaller trends that are positioned to gain popularity in 2017 include food waste awareness, niche animal proteins (insects!) and the collaboration of high-tech and farming industries.
For more on these and other trends, check out this PDF from Sterling-Rice Group, Boulder, Colo.