12 Oct 2022 — Innova Market Insights has identified “Redefining Value” as its top F&B trend for 2023, as consumers adapt to a global cost-of-living crisis in the face of economic and political volatility. With budgets stretched and supplies under strain, brands must be flexible in action and open to connecting more with consumers, while also taking full advantage of rapidly emerging technologies.
Innova’s annual Top Ten Trends are based on wide-ranging global consumer surveys. Coupled with comprehensive market and new product data, they reveal not only what is driving consumer decisions now but also ways in which brands and innovators can successfully adapt to future realities.
“’Redefining Value’ throughout the food and beverage industry will lead in 2023 as consumers seek brands that listen, understand and respond to their core values. They want brands that provide quality, trust and confidence via their product formulations, communications and wider sustainability actions,” Lu Ann Williams, global insights director at Innova, tells FoodIngredientsFirst.
“It’s never been more important for companies to figure out what consumers value.”
In addition to a heightened demand for competitive pricing, consumers have told Innova that they still seek nutritional value and expect a continued shared for environmental security. Meanwhile, younger generations who have grown up in an inclusive digital age are gaining greater influence, changing markets and creating new opportunities.
Against that complex backdrop, Innova’s top trends anticipate how the F&B industry will shape up next year:
1. Redefining Value
Over the last year, cost and value for money have become more important to more than half of F&B consumers worldwide. Today’s shoppers are increasingly exploring money-saving strategies, such as choosing lower-cost items and cooking from scratch.
However, consumers still remain determined to sample new experiences, ensure personal well-being and support planetary health. Therefore, there is more pressure on brands and manufacturers to deliver value while still meeting these wider public expectations.
Brands, innovators, producers and consumers are wrestling with rising costs and greater instability. Combating these issues requires a deep understanding of how far consumers are willing to compromise on cost.
Strategies such as simple price increases or flexible ingredient lists to cope with supply chain fluctuations can work in the short term. However, brands need to be open in their communication and clearly show the benefits they are bringing.
Despite political and economic volatility becoming the second biggest concern for consumers in 2022, the health of the planet remains the top global issue and financial pressures are leading to an increase in eco-friendly behaviors.
Consumers tell Innova they have reduced food waste and upcycled or recycled more as part of their belt-tightening. As the cost-of-living crisis continues, brands can achieve success through actions that combine economic benefits with clear health and sustainability goals.
2. Affordable Nutrition
Over the past 12 months, Innova found that 62% of consumers have reported a noticeable rise in the cost of their food and beverages. As a result, they are turning their attention to simple but nutritious goods that are affordable.
Key behaviors include buying in bulk, opting for private labels, cooking from scratch, reducing spending on luxury items and purchasing fewer items. Consumers are actively looking for affordable ways to maintain a healthy diet, offering brands many opportunities to test their capabilities to new limits.
“There is still much to learn about affordable nutrition, as the market remains widely untapped. ‘Shrinkflation,’ ingredient substitution and reaching new customers are just some strategies companies are delving into,” says Williams.
To meet the nutritional, environmental and economic demands of consumers, manufacturers must innovate to extract maximum value from raw materials and the production process.
3. Generational Push
Meanwhile, younger consumers, raised in an interactive and digital world, are creating trends and redefining what markets should provide. For Gen Z and Millennials, food and brand choices are important signifiers of lifestyle, beliefs and values.
Younger consumer demographics have a strong voice and embrace the opportunity to share their views openly and widely. While health is an increasingly important purchase driver – as with older generations – novel and international flavors are winning the hearts of a young and experimental audience.
“Gen Z’s, in particular, research everything. They question everything, question all the trends, and are active participants in them. The younger generations also want to be engaged with their brands, as these represent their own personal brand,” continues Williams.
These consumers embrace what is new and different while being extremely responsive to positive brand engagement. A prominent example of an emergent engagement strategy is the arrival of brand-linked, non-fungible tokens (NFTs), which became popular during the cryptocurrency bull market of 2021. Food companies are now experimenting with the opportunities brought by this internet-based technology .
4. Plant-Based: Unlocking a New Narrative
The rapid rise of the plant-based sector has, almost inevitably, hit some roadblocks, necessitating a refocus around consumer demands for high-quality, flavorful products. No longer merely a mimic, green gastronomy will blossom as a standalone sector in 2023, giving brands significant opportunities to diversify and expand.
Consumers still want to see improvements in taste and texture, but there is a vast appetite for culinary creativity and worldwide flavor profiles. Two-thirds of Innova’s global survey expressed a desire to try plant-based versions of traditional, local cuisines.
“Plant-based is not only meat alternatives. When I think about plant-based, it is not necessarily the first thing I imagine. It’s really cuisine and not just about alternatives for meat and dairy. It’s about eating plants in a new way,” says Williams.
“Companies ought to ask themselves, can I make vegetables taste better? Businesses don’t necessarily have to center on meat, which ties to the second trend of affordable nutrition.”
The industry is responding with a large increase in ready-meal offerings while there is great scope for expansion into meal kits and inventive recipe combinations. Interest in underused ingredients is also growing, creating opportunities to introduce variation in flavor and nutrition while simultaneously addressing supply concerns.
5. Farming the Future
Public curiosity for innovative technologies such as vertical and regenerative farming is increasing. As well as helping to maximize flavor, nutrition and yield, these advances can win consumer support where they are shown to improve the quality and sustainability of global food production.
Today’s consumer is increasingly invested in the source of food as it ties in with major global concerns of health, sustainability and waste. The welfare of agricultural workers is equally important, with 65% of share to Innova’s surveys agreeing they would rather buy fruit and vegetables from farmer’s markets than large stores.
Essentially, brands need to demonstrate how novel production techniques are benefiting farmers, people and the planet.
Commenting on the F&B industry’s future direction of travel, Williams reveals: “At Innova, we have seen a considerable consumer demand for value redefined throughout the supply chain, with creative and flexible approaches to the use of technology and reducing waste proving pivotal.”
“With financial concerns a dominating factor, 2023 is a significant year for new developments that answer these growing demands. Based on our consumer and market research, our Top Trends deliver insights to support brands as they innovate and grow.”
On Wednesday November 9, 2022, at 4 pm CET (10 am EST/10 am SGT), Williams will present a webinar detailing some exclusive insights behind the full list of Top Ten Trends for 2023, including opportunities in the following areas:
7. Devouring Digital
8. Revenge Spending
9. Unpuzzle Health
10. Positively Imperfect
To discover more about the leading trends shaping the global F&B industry over the next 12 months, register now at this link to join the webinar.
By Benjamin Ferrer
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