In the past five years or so, every industry from tech to education to food and beverage, has confronted the concept of disruption. At the outset, many industry professionals took a negative view of disruption. Before long, disruption became a measure of organizational health. Managing and learning from disruption signaled an ability to evolve and absorb the impact of future change. Looking ahead, lessons from intentional disruptive practices may be essential as we confront enduring changes to business practices.

According to the International Food Information Council’s 2020 Food & Health Survey, 85% of Americans have made at least some change in the food they eat or how they prepare it because of the coronavirus pandemic. Do we expect consumers to return to pre-pandemic behaviors? Or are we traveling along a one-way trajectory toward something else? Significant changes in the industry keep piling up, from the decimation of foodservice markets, to virtual experiments by major trade shows, to the removal or review of legacy brands with origins in racial stereotypes. These unprecedented and foundational changes are propelling us to a space where a return to normalcy may not be possible. And that could be a good thing.

Fresh culinary voices are entering the food and beverage industry every day. Through relationships with celebrity chefs, and expansive platforms such as Instagram, these voices are establishing direct connection with consumers. Their influence has created curiosity about global flavors and ingredients. In this moment, when we are largely unable to experience restaurant dining, consumers are discovering how to use these ingredients in their own kitchens. The food processing community should take note of this important development. Following the subtle sophistication of consumer flavor and ingredient preferences is critical for food and beverage product developers and supply chains. To some, investing in innovation at this moment may seem like too much of a risk. But the world and the consuming public are on a course to become forever changed. Whether you know it or not, so are your products and services.