Predictions for the Coming Year: Food, Part 2

Stephen DeAngelis

December 11, 2013

In Part 1 of this two-part post about food predictions for the coming year, I discussed trends in foods and flavors identified by McCormick & Company and Campbell’s. In this post, I’ll discuss twenty predictions. The first ten predictions were made by Phil Lempert, who calls himself the Supermarket Guru. [“Top 10 Food Trend Predictions for 2014,” CGT, 21 November 2011] The second ten predictions were made by Innova analysts. [“Top 10 food and beverage trends for 2014,” by Mike Stones, Food Manufacture, 13 November 2013]

The ten predictions made by Lempert are:

1. The Emergence of the “IndieWoman”: Almost 31 million strong, the “IndieWoman” will be a major food influencer. These women are 27 and older, live alone and have no children. … When it comes to their supermarket habits, “IndieWomen” spend $50 billion on food and beverages each year. … Because this group is increasingly busy, brands will cater to this demographic through more semi-homemade meals that use fresh-tasting, high-quality ingredients.

2. Better for You Snacking: When researching the association between daily snacking frequency and the Healthy Eating Index, researchers from the NPD Group recently found that as snacking increased, so did individuals’ overall diet quality. As a result, healthy options for consumers are on the rise with nearly 60 percent of all snack foods now positioned as better for you, according to Innova Market Insights. …

3. Brands Reach Consumers Locally Through Cause Initiatives: … A survey recently conducted by ConAgra Foods found that 62 percent of consumers appreciate and want to support companies that donate to important social causes. In 2014, look for food brands to increasingly focus on community outreach.

4. Click to Cook: As consumers continue to rely on technology for the sake of convenience and saving time, people will begin to rely more on their mobile phones when grocery shopping. … Technology will continue to play an important role for shoppers as the next phase of technology will offer the ability to select a recipe, order ingredients and check-out directly from mobile devices or in-car touch screens. Watch for grocery retailers to install drive-through windows for quick order pickup. Additionally, consumers will increasingly turn to online shopping sites for mealtime staples. [For more on this topic, read my posts entitled Supermarkets and Digitalization, Part 1 and Part 2]

5. Supermarkets —The New Culinary Schools: To add value in an increasingly competitive food retailer environment, supermarkets are becoming the center of communities. Taking a cue from what is already occurring in the social media food world, grocery stores are beginning to offer services such as “community cooking centers” where shoppers can collaborate and learn from each other. These social environments are the perfect place for the aging millennial population as they are a group that likes to cook, but doesn’t necessarily have the skills to make elaborate meals at home. As consumers are looking for a more “connected culture,” retailers will begin rethinking the layout of the supermarket. We’ll see them offering solution centers where all of the ingredients for certain recipes are found together to bring the recipe-making experience in-store. Food companies will work with retailers to understand consumer purchase habits and how to best reach shoppers in-store.

6. The Retailer Becomes the Brand: Consumers have become increasingly loyal to their preferred retailer and its products. In fact, a recent survey by ConAgra Foods found that 53 percent of consumers shop at a particular retailer because it has good private brand products. This aligns with the report by the Private Label Manufacturers Association (PLMA) that states private brand sales increased by more than 2.9 percent in 2012, pushing annual revenues to more than $108 billion – an all-time record, according to Nielsen. The growth stems from the rising quality of private brands, and the blurring distinction between private brands and national brands. No longer will private brands just emulate national brand products, but consumers will see more private brands creating new products of their own.

7. Rise and Shine — The New Way to Start Your Day: Breakfast remains one of the most important meals of the day, with 74 percent of respondents from a ConAgra Foods survey reporting that they eat breakfast regularly at home. In 2014, consumers will look to add more protein to their first meal, with Mintel reporting that consumers are looking more at foods like eggs, meats, and Greek yogurt, as well as whole grain products, for their breakfast to live a healthy lifestyle without compromising taste and indulgence. Look for more brands to offer protein-rich breakfast options.

8. Packaging Evolves to Share More with Consumers: The packaging of our food is evolving. This year, canned soups shifted to carton packaging with more than 58 percent of all broth products transitioning into cartons, according to Symphony IRI research. Pasta sauce is following the trend as well. Consumers are looking for more information, but the current surface area of the package is limiting. In 2014, look for packaging to become “touch” sensitive to reveal additional information on command. Using an app on a mobile device, consumers will be able to learn more about an ingredient or health claim by simply focusing the mobile device on the product’s label. This technology might also be used to tell where the ingredients come from, who prepared the food, the company’s history and even offer other customer reviews and ratings.

9. Millennials Make the Supermarket Social: The millennial generation’s fascination with social media will begin to overflow into other parts of their lives — including the supermarket. In fact, 57 percent of Pinterest, the pinboard-style photo-sharing web site, is made of food related content with 33 percent of Pinterest users saying they have purchased food or cooking items after seeing them on site, according to a survey by PriceGrabber. Grocery retailers are now even beginning to “pin.” … Amazon.com and other online retailers, such as Google Shopping Express, offer same day delivery and supply back-end technologies, which allow impulse purchasing and home delivery of all the ingredients for a particular recipe. The next evolution will be “click to buy” for consumers looking to purchase ingredients for a recipe on Pinterest or other social media platforms.

10. International Restaurant Flavors At Home: The surge of Latino and Asian populations, along with growing consumer interest in adding more flavor and variety to mealtime, has led to more growth opportunities for South American, Indian and Middle Eastern cuisines in the food world. From school cafeterias, to the dining room table, global flavors are sprouting up in places other than restaurants. As children become exposed to global cuisine flavors at a much younger age than in previous generations, international flavors will be more accepted by these children as they age, and their palates will be more sophisticated at a younger age. With children influencing nearly 80 percent of purchase decisions by families, look for consumers to spend more time in the international flavor aisle of the grocery store, so they can bring these new flavors to their dinner table, as well as frozen Indian and Middle Eastern meals.

I believe that Lempert has done a good job of identifying trends that will affect the grocery sector. Some of those predictions may not penetrate the sector as quickly or as deeply as he thinks they will, but they will certainly be trending in the upward direction. The ten predictions offered by Innova mirror some of the predictions discussed above and in Part 1. Stones discusses the first five trends in the article cited at the beginning of this post. They are:

  • Waste not want not; cutting food waste. [Reflects] manufacturers’ efforts to reduce food loss or waste. Food loss during production and food waste, at the retailer and consumer end of the food-supply chain, will be heavily scrutinized. … [See discussion in Part 1]
  • You can trust us: improving consumer trust. [Follows] recent food safety scares and scandals, which [have] crippled confidence, said the research organization. …
  • Simpler pleasures: back to basic trends towards simpler food. [Refers] to the claim that consumers [are] reassessing their needs and returning to basics, by finding more pleasure in simpler food. This [is] evidenced in the shift towards home cooking, with food bring family and friends together. …
  • Look out for the small guy: small-scale innovators rise to the challenge. [This] anticipates the trends towards small-scale innovators developing high quality and distinct products that have small-scale appeal, but big trend potential. The rapid rise of social media platforms [offer] more opportunities for small companies to develop business opportunities in both domestic and export markets.
  • Health is more holistic: a more holistic approach in providing nutritious food and beverage solutions to consumers. [Refers] to the progress nutrition is making towards recognition as the answer to … healthcare budget crises worldwide. … Clinical nutrition is regarded as a platform with high profit potential. …

Stones discusses the final five Innova predictions in a follow-on article. [“New superfoods listed in 10 food predictions for 2013,” Food Manufacture, 28 November 2013] They are:

  • ‘New’ superfoods. [Refers to] the revival of interest in ‘heirloom’ vegetables such as parsnips, artichokes, kale and salsify. Innova also [predicts’ the rediscovery of new ancient grains such as freekeh and chia.
  • Rise of the hybrid. [Refers] to the trend towards product innovation pushing boundaries more than ever before — with new product ideas making product categorization more difficult. …
  • The Protein Horizon. [This trend will] be driven by new product launches featuring protein. Innova [predicts] that the dairy category [will] continue to be the main beneficiary, with yogurt, particularly Greek yogurt, being the top driver. …
  • New stealth strategies. [Reflects] the food and drink industry’s moves to reduce the sugar, salt and saturated fat contents of products. This trend [will] gain momentum next year. …
  • Alternative alternatives. [Refers] to the ‘free-form’ sector’s development of alternatives to the standard choices for allergy conscious new product development. Next year, new competition for soy will include: coconut milk, nut and grain milks. … They also predicted the use of new gluten-free flours.

Together these two lists of predictions, when added to the forecasts and trends offered by McCormick and Campbell’s, provide plenty of “food” for thought for this coming year.