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Back to the Future: A Look at 2019 Trends and their 2020 Counterparts

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Great Scott! We’ve entered a new decade full of new and exciting changes. But before we head into the future, we wanted to take a look back at the not-too-distant past, with a review of the 2019 food trends and how they helped influence what’s in vogue for 2020.

Exploring Flavor and Texture

Hyper-connected consumers, more aware of other cultures and cuisines, began seeking out more exciting flavors and ingredients to add to their plates in 2019. This year, food manufacturers will continue to try out new, innovative flavor combinations that focus on provenance to help them stand out. Building off this demand, hybrid products are likely the next frontier, where brands are putting new twists on established products. Dawn Foods trends list says these “Mashup Adventures” give consumers a way to try out flavor combinations in an easy way. Textures may also see some gains, because, according to Innova Market Insights, younger consumers care more about texture than even ingredients.

Flexitarians and Plant-based Everything

Brands were just beginning to greenify their product offerings to appeal to more mainstream consumers in early 2019. Anderson Partners identified this as a growing trend in foodservice, and in June of 2019, Dataessential, a food industry market research firm, confirmed that the term “plant-based” had grown by 2,462% on U.S. menus in the last four years. As plant-based sets the food world aflame, Innova Market Insights’ expects this trend to continue through 2020, as these products move from vegan/vegetarian niche items into the public consciousness and mindful consumers look for food that makes them feel good.

Alternative Ingredients

At the start of 2019, fueled by the plant-based movement and a big push toward healthier ingredients, alternatives to ingredients like dairy milk and wheat flour were poised to take off. These trends moved manufacturers to start creating more nutrient-rich versions of their products, especially those with higher levels of protein and fiber. As an alternative to flour in breads and pastas, Oklahoma State University even predicted that insect ingredients were the next big trend to watch. We’re not sure this one panned out, but in 2020, consumers will likely pay more attention to ingredients than ever before, turning to flours made from coconuts, milk made from oats and meat made from plants. These moves come on the heels of heightened consumer awareness around the environmental impacts of livestock farming and the health effects of items on the ingredient panel.

Sustainability and Transparency

Sustainability continues to be on the minds of consumers in both 2019 and 2020. They want to know where their food comes from, how it got to them and what brands are doing to reduce their environmental impact. Consumers are reviewing product packaging to glean this information and keeping an eye out for ethical claims about fair-trade practices and the treatment of animals. We expect to see more brands moving toward causes like fighting food waste with upcycled ingredients, using edible or compostable packaging and reducing plastic use.

Thinking Small

We wrote about this trend at the end of 2019 in a blog post about speed to market, where we identified how larger companies are partnering up with smaller start-up brands in order to get items to the market more quickly. Smaller, more nimble companies will continue to shake up the food and beverage industries in 2020. Consumers love the speed and innovation of these newer brands, who often heavily feature social and ethical claims and utilize locally or sustainably sourced ingredients.

Reaching Consumers

Brands have turned to technology and storytelling in order to draw in more customers and give them unique experiences. Nabisco, for example, invited consumers to guess their “mystery flavor” in 2019, and brewers launched new products like beer cans with QR codes on them, which when scanned, allowed consumers to learn more about the brew’s ingredients and origin. Opportunities for food manufacturers, especially larger ones, to explain why their brand is unique, will be effective in reaching consumers in 2020, says Bizwomen.

What unexpected trends do you think will be big in 2020? Leave us a comment below to let us know your thoughts.

If you’re interested in partnering with a food ingredient marketing team that understands the trends and can help tell your story to B2B target customers, contact us and we’ll be in touch soon!

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