Increased consumer interest in the stories behind their food and beverage products and their notable influence on purchasing decisions has resulted in companies increasingly paying attention to storytelling in branding strategies, with ingredient provenance proving its worth as a key element of this.

According to Innova Market Insights research, three in five global consumers say that stories around a brand influence their purchasing decisions, with the main reasons why consumers want this information given as learning where the ingredients come from, understanding the product’s benefits and engendering trust in the brand.

“Storytelling: Winning with Words” leads the list of Innova Market Insights Top Ten Trends for 2020, building on ’’Discovery: the Adventurous Consumer”, the Company’s number one trend for 2019. Innova Market Insights continuously analyses global developments in food and beverage launch activity and consumer research to highlight the trends most likely to impact the food and drinks industry in 2020 and beyond.

Innova Market Insights Top Ten Trends for 2020 are:

  1. Storytelling: Winning with Words

Prepared Foods 2020 Predictions

Check out our December 2019 issue for more food & beverage predictions!

Although ingredient provenance has always been important, consumer interest in discovering the story behind their foods has risen further and is increasingly influencing purchasing decisions. Consumers’ attention is piqued by opportunities to learn more about how products are produced, which promotes and understanding of product benefits and helps to build all-important trust in the brand.

As a result, manufacturers are increasingly focusing on ingredient provenance platforms in order to highlight the taste and quality of their products, as well as their uniqueness and sustainability efforts. Provenance platforms can communicate a whole range of messages to the consumer, including flavor/taste, processing methods and cultural and traditional backgrounds, as well as the more obvious geographical origin.

  1. The Plant-Based Revolution

Plant-based innovation in foods and beverages continues to flourish as a result of consumer interest in health, sustainability and ethics, which ties into the broader consumer lifestyle trend towards cleaner living. As the use of the term ‘plant-based’ moves more into the mainstream, the industry, and start-up companies in particular, are taking up the challenge to deliver more clean label meat and dairy alternatives with improved nutritional profiles.

  1. The Sustain Domain

Consumers increasingly expect companies to invest in sustainability, with Innova Market Insights research indicating that, on average, 85% of US and UK consumers expected companies to invest in sustainability in 2019, up from 64% in 2018. In the area of food waste, upcycling is the new recycling, as companies strive to follow a zero-waste approach by creating value from by-products. Meanwhile, in packaging, the focus is on using less of it, as well as developing sustainable alternatives.

  1. The Right Bite

Stress and anxiety are key concerns in modern life as consumers manage careers, families and social lives while striving to maintain healthy lifestyles, both physically and mentally.  Responses to this vary, although the majority of consumers aim to balance the benefits and costs of busy lifestyles. This, in turn, raises the demand for nutritious foods that are easy to prepare, convenient and portable, while indulgent treats play a role in relaxation and enjoyment.

  1. Tapping into Texture

Last year’s leading trend ‘Discovery: the Adventurous Consumer’ is still prominent, with consumer demand for something new and different being reflected in more product launches with textural claims. Consumers increasingly recognize the influence of texture on food and beverages, allowing a heightened sensory experience and often a greater feeling of indulgence. According to Innova Market Insights research, an average 45% of US and UK consumers are influenced by texture when buying food and drinks, while 68% share the opinion that textures contribute to a more interesting food and beverage experience.

  1. Macronutrient Makeover

Consumer perceptions of macronutrients in relation to health are evolving as the media and science dictate what is good or what is not. Typically one macronutrient at a time is the focus, with low/no sugar currently leading from low fat and low calorie as the claim most influencing purchasing decisions in a 2019 Innova Consumer Survey covering the UK, the US, Spain, France, Brazil, Germany, Mexico and China. At the same time, however, interest is moving from changing a single micronutrient element toward more balanced and complete concepts.

  1. Hello Hybrids

Increasingly adventurous consumers tend to be highly receptive to hybrid concepts, with interest in blending ingredients, combining food types and mixing flavor profiles. According to Innova Market Insights research, seven in ten US and one in two UK consumers like products that mix flavors, such as sweet and salty. 

Hybrid beverages are also a growth area, with water producers, for example, blurring boundaries between juice and water by infusing products with different plants, fruits and vegetables, incorporating plant-based waters into other beverage types.  

  1. A Star is Born

Consumer acceptance and familiarity are crucial for mainstreaming unusual ingredients, such as allulose and ashwagandha, as well as for key potential disruptors such as CBD. Ongoing publicity for CBD has brought about high levels of familiarity and consumers could name pain relief, reducing anxiety/distress and promoting relaxation as the top three benefits of cannabis/CBD ingredients. 

Some ingredients are slower to emerge, as exemplified by prebiotics, which have been around for many years, but only relatively recently started to move into the mainstream, with Innova Market Insights reporting a 20% global growth for food and beverage launches with prebiotics in 2018 over 2017.

  1. Eat Pretty

Consumers are increasingly consuming food and drinks that support their physical appearance and there are growing numbers of launches that border on the cosmeceutical and contain beauty-enhancing ingredients for the benefit of body, hair and skin. There is also growing food and cosmetics cross-over, with the introduction of cosmetics-inspired food packaging and more beauty products inspired by foods.

  1. Brand Unlimited 

From using pop culture references and small batch ingredients to making personalization possible in limited time releases, brands are engaging consumers like never before. There are two scarcity messages for limited editions – limited time scarcity and limited supply scarcity and companies, led by the big brands, are increasingly strengthening the psychological scarcity effect with limited quantity and availability.  Consumers feel that limited editions are more special, unique and valuable, which positively influences their buying behaviour.

In addition to these Top Ten Trends identified for 2020, key themes from previous years, including Alternatives for All, Green Appeal, Snacking: the Definitive Occasion and Eating for Me will also continue to feature strongly.