There are a variety of opportunities for growing food and beverage businesses in 2018, but staying on top of changing customer needs, understanding millennial preferences, leveraging new packaging and employing key technology and acquisition strategies will all be essential in this competitive marketplace.
From bowl-based packaged foods to cost-conscious consumers, here are the top 5 things that businesses should focus on for 2018.
Our industry insider, Cristin Singer, food and beverage practice lead, provides important insights on top trends to consider this year.
1. Changing customer preferences
Bold and exotic flavors, snacking and health and wellness are all at the forefront for consumer food preferences in 2018, and the millennial generation is frequently driving those choice options with their adventurous palates. Subscription food home delivery will also continue to evolve, keeping in mind consumers’ wishes to be part of the meal-making process with easy-to-follow recipes and healthy, fresh ingredients. Likewise, on-the-go, convenient packaging, like bowl-based choices featuring kale, quinoa and more, will be in demand as eager consumers look for quick but healthy eating options. Staying on top of these shifting lifestyles and preferences will be essential for relevant and profitable food and beverage companies. As we witnessed in 2017, large packaged food companies that haven’t been on-trend with healthy snacking resulted in declining sales.
2. Mergers and acquisitions
Many companies in 2018 will add new product lines or introduce healthier products and ingredients to their existing foods and drinks. Yet, rather than developing these newer products within the business’ existing operations, more and more, we’re seeing companies acquire businesses that are producing the type of foods or ingredients they’re looking for. These acquisitions are frequently done at a lower cost than spending the time and resources in internal research and development (R&D) to create these newer products. In a sense, acquisition is the new R&D for many food and beverage companies wanting to enhance their product offerings and brand.
In recent years, consumer confidence in the safety of the U.S. food supply has been lagging. According to a recent International Food Information Council Foundation’s Food & Health Survey, 61 percent of Americans are at least somewhat confident in the safety of the food supply, down from 66 percent in 2016. Clearly, food manufacturers would like to mitigate risks and improve in this area. For many businesses, food safety and preventive efforts will continue to be top of mind in 2018.
More and more consumers, particularly millennials, want to know their food producers are green, charitable with their excess product, control their water consumption, use alternative energies like solar power, reduce wasteful packaging and more. While these important sustainable measures can be costly to operations, companies must leverage efficient green systems and be aware of cost-saving tax credits, like food donation deductions, to help offset these important efforts.
Source: Biz Journals