2020 quench Food & Beverage Trends, Vol. 11

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Diving In

1.0 Hypercustomization

Technological advances have facilitated companies’ capabilities and enabled consumers’ ability to retain a ‘made-to-order,’ ‘have it my way’ attitude about even the most basic of food and function and have helped facilitate the [mass] actualization of individualized customization — building a unique product for each consumer. Over half (51%) of consumers expect companies to be fully capable of delivering on hyperpersonalized expectations by anticipating their needs and offering relevant recommendations by 2020. A handful of early-stage artificial intelligence and data analytics start-ups within the food, retail and restaurant sectors were acquired early on in order to bring data and insights in-house, highlighting the ever-increasing primacy of first-party data as a competitive differentiator.

1.1 Cure Yourself

Over the last few years, there has been increasing awareness of the impact of food allergies, especially in children: An estimated 15 million Americans have food allergies, including 5.9 million children under age 18, according to Food Allergy Research & Education. The prevalence of food allergies among children is increasing. However, studies have shown that consistently exposing children to a potential food allergen at a very early age can reduce the development of an allergy to that food by up to 80 percent.

Before Brands — SpoonfulOne Daily Food Mix-in serves as a daily dietary supplement powder made to train a child’s body to get accustomed to foods responsible for 90 percent of food allergies. With one spoon a day, babies as young as 4–6 months get an introduction to proteins found in common allergens.

Meridian Valley Labs offers home blood kits capable of analyzing over 190 food allergies. The company represents the first lab in the United States to successfully offer bioidentical hormone replacement therapy.

1.2 Data Diets

Consumers are using personal data to help craft food and meal plans that are hyperspecific to their dietary needs. A wide range of biological information can be analyzed by artificial intelligence, something that Springwise researchers foresee becoming more common in the future, given growing interest. More than three-quarters of Generation Z (77%) state that they are more likely to consume foods produced by personalized technology.

In 2020, Open Meals will open the sushi restaurant, Sushi Singularity, a Japanese restaurant serving 3-D-printed sushi by analyzing the biodata of diners. The restaurant will send pre-booked guests a health test kit that tests samples of their saliva, urine and stool to ensure personalized dishes.

Gastronomy pioneer Nathan Myhrvold developed the patent and subsequent prototype for the Myhrvold Personalized Food Manufacturing System, a system that collects data about a human’s biomarkers, preferences and behavior and connects to a food manufacturing system to create food based on this data.

1.3 Tracking Traceability

Blockchain and other tracking technologies allow consumers to trace their food step-by-step, from origin to plate. A lack of trust in the global supply chain pushed the industry to invest in technology to help producers, shippers, regulators and consumers know the location of their food and adjust for individualized preferences, such as ingredients, origins and processing.

ZhongAn Technology aims to prevent food-safety and food-fraud issues, lowering risk and liability for the agricultural industry. Its GoGo Chicken product uploads the real-time movements of chicken through the supply chain to a digital ledger, or blockchain, for consumers.

IBM created the IBM Food Trust to help bring transparency and efficiency to food supply chains. The company has dozens of products that measure food safety and freshness and help to reduce waste. These products are supplied to Walmart, Unilever and more than 50 other brands.

2.0 Back to Nature

Amongst everyone, from restaurants to grocery stores, there is interest in growing products in-house, and consumers and chefs alike go to unusual means for food that is as natural as possible. In a tech-centric world, the increased desire for personal connections and natural sourcing drives the industry to extremes in search of foods representing the pinnacle of real, fresh and minimally processed.

2.1 Wild Food

A growing interest in wild food captivates consumers, thanks to foraging and the emerging practice of conservation foraging — focusing on sustainable harvest practices and the collection of invasive species. Many weeds that landowners battle on their lawns are now the same ingredients appearing on restaurant menus, in CSA boxes and at the market.

Known as nutritional powerhouses, seeds are taking center stage, thanks to their diverse flavor profiles and ability to add an additional layer of depth and texture to new and traditional dishes. McCormick’s 2019 Flavor Forecast featured the “need for seed,” as did the 2019 Summer and Winter Fancy Food Shows.

Industry trade shows saw their share of mushrooms starring in a growing number of snack offerings, and experts predict 8.4 percent growth of the global mushroom market over the next five years — an increase of $35.2 billion.

The association of mushrooms with immune system boosting and other health benefits drives consumer interest. The fungi now serve as sought-after additives in frozen desserts and ready-to-drink functional beverages.

2.2 Garden-to-table

Restaurants that grow their own produce topped the National Restaurant Association’s “What’s Hot 2019 Culinary Forecast,” as infrastructure for these types of projects continues to grow.

A growing number of restaurants have invested in their own, personal production of produce, using on-site, multiacre farms and gardens. Croc’s 19th Street Bistro sources vegetables from its own garden — just steps away from the dining guests — to create everything from cocktails to dips to entrees, and it always looks local for anything it can’t grow itself.

Investments in innovative farming methods have exploded, and investors such as Bezos Expeditions, Google Ventures and SoftBank spur the industry through multimillion-dollar investments in industry subsets, like vertical and indoor farming. Kroger, the United States’ largest retailer, announced a partnership with Infarm, a company using a “distributed farming” format to produce lettuce and kale.

2.3 Food with a Bite

Bitters have returned as a foodie favorite, particularly in cocktails and other beverages. According to market research group SPINS, which included bitters in its “Top 10 Trend Predictions for 2019,” bitters are contributing “trendy and innovative flavor profiles” to a marketplace where consumers are increasingly sugar-conscious and have more sophisticated palates.

Experts see a similar rise in sour flavors and fermented fare as Americans grow a taste for the tang of vinegar. Fermented foods and flavors, including pickled fruits and vegetables, continue to catch on with consumers who associate such products with digestive health benefits.

Bitter Love, one of the first shelf-stable, ready-to-drink beverages made from a bitter blend of functional herbs, sparkling water and a splash of fruit juice, taps directly into the consumer interest in health and wellness, positioning its products as functional beverages, good for digestive health. The company’s products are available in three flavors: Tart Cherry, Toasted Pineapple and Grapefruit.

3.0 Altruistic Food

Brands’ extensive adoption of corporate social responsibility initiatives led to a shift in consumer perception — and treatment — of these companies. Beyond believing in them, consumers see brands as agents of legitimate change: More than three-fourths (76%) of U.S. consumers agree that brands maintain the capability to change society for the better.

3.1 Feeding Deserts

Roughly 66 million people in the United States live on food stamps or in a state of food insecurity, and another 15 million experience “periodic” food insecurity throughout the year. The number of food-insecure households has increased continually since 2001, according to the USDA, due to the lack of real substantive progress in food insecurity during that time period.

PepsiCo Foundation’s signature nutrition operation, Food for Good, has worked with food banks and other hunger-fighting organizations to deliver more than 100 million servings of nutritious food to children in need in the United States, and it has delivered 85 million additional servings internationally.

General Mills serves as a force in fighting food deserts; in 2018, food banks and other nonprofits supported by General Mills collectively enabled 1.8 billion meals for hungry people worldwide. The donations and grants to its food bank network partners served to strengthen populations in more than 30 countries.

3.2 Dealing with Disaster

The Federal Emergency Management Agency has spent more than 40 years mobilizing for America’s natural disasters; however, it relies heavily on donations from the private sector to address the yearly onslaught of natural phenomena and cites the private sector as instrumental in its ability to perform its job.

Kellogg’s aims to combat global food insecurity and scarcity as a result of climate vulnerability and the resultant natural disasters. It fights these crises through its Breakfasts for Better Days program, providing over 3 billion servings of food to affected individuals.

Tyson has supplied tens of millions of meals, pounds of food and monetary donations in the wake of recent hurricanes and earthquakes, supporting struggling individuals and families. Additional support includes partnerships across more than 14 states and meals for federal workers in the recent shutdown.

3.3 Serving Up Sustainability

Across industries, companies are coming together and forming coalitions in the larger interest of the planet: 21 companies in the video game industry have formally signed the Playing For The Planet Alliance in collaboration with the UN Environment, and 32 fashion companies signed a broad-based sustainability pact at the G7 summit. These companies represent 150 brands and over 30 percent of the fashion industry’s production volume.

In January 2019, more than 250 of the world’s biggest food and drink companies — Nestlé, Unilever, The Coca-Cola Company and Pernod Ricard — signed the New Plastics Economy Global Commitment. The organization’s goal is that, by 2025, 100 percent of plastic packaging will be able to be easily and safely reused, recycled or composted.

Loop is a zero-waste platform and coalition of consumer product companies aiming to diminish the use of household single-use plastic. Developed by major recycling company TerraCycle, Loop works with eight of the 10 of the largest contributors to the plastic waste crisis in the world.

4.0 Disaster Farming

The world’s food system is desperate for an overhaul: Research shows that the planet can only grow enough fresh fruits and vegetables to feed two-thirds of the current global population — 7.5 billion people — the required amount for a healthy diet, and experts predict that the global population will reach almost 10 billion in 2050.

4.1 Future Farming

Industrial agriculture has encouraged intensive tilling and an overuse of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides, leading to the depletion of at least 70 percent of available topsoil. Research predicts that all of the world’s topsoil, the layer that grows our food, could be gone within the next 60 years and cites alternative farming methods, such as urban farming, as the best solution.

Over the next 10 years, researchers predict that indoor farming will become a $42 billion industry, accounting for half of the industry’s leafy green production. 80 Acres Farms indoor farms feature robotics and climate control systems — the first fully automated indoor farm in North America.

Experts evaluate the vertical farming market at anywhere from $2.51 billion to $13 billion. Living Greens Farms, one of the leaders of this new category, utilizes a patented vertical plane design that helps one acre produce the equivalent of hundreds of conventional acres, saving extensive amounts of resources: 24 million gallons of water, over 35,000 gallons of diesel and nearly a million pounds of CO₂ emissions.

4.2 Disaster Designing

Three-quarters of the world’s food comes from just 12 plants and five animal species, and humans consume only about 150 out of the 30,000 available edible plant varieties. Fostering an appreciation for a wider variety of animal proteins, produce and grains could help expand the very limited pool of ingredients that make up the world food supply.

Breeders of new plants use genome editing to emphasize key character traits, like sustainability, yield and disease resistance. The National Academy of Sciences declared gene editing to be one of the breakthroughs needed to improve food production so the world can feed billions more people amid a changing climate. Row 7 Seed Company works alongside breeders, farmers, seedsmen and chefs to develop new varieties of vegetables and grains that make an impact in the soil and at the table.

Researchers see regenerative agriculture as playing a significant role in coming environmental struggles, particularly water shortages. Big brands have embraced the possibilities that come with farming for the future. Applegate Farms, LLC launched THE NEW FOOD COLLECTIVE™, a premium brand featuring pasture-raised meats and small-batch production methods.

4.3 Unusual Alternatives

Experts foresee ‘precision fermentation’ — producing animal proteins more efficiently via microbes — as a significant disruptor to the current system of food production and a replacement to everything from gelatin to collagen to eggs. The process designs the most efficient process to produce only the meat products needed, with consistent quality, lack of price volatility and supply security.

Air Protein converts carbon dioxide into complete proteins, using single-celled organisms capable of production in any environment. The company plans to commercialize consumer products, featuring its complete proteins as a whole-food ingredient with 80 percent protein, all amino acids, vitamins and minerals and small amounts of oil and fiber.

Fungus-based protein can be produced from well-known food sources, with less processing than plant-based products, offering the same potential efficiency as lab-grown meat in terms of land, energy and water use. Prime Roots experiments with edible fungal strains to produce a plant-free protein-building block designed to upend the meatless status quo.

5.0 Restaurants Without Restaurants

E-commerce and digital ordering have changed the shape of the restaurant industry. Experts consider the current industry value at $82 billion (2018); however, predictions expect that amount to triple in 2020, reaching a value of $220 billion. Off-premises dining — delivery, takeout and drive-through orders — now accounts for 60 percent of restaurant occasions.

5.1 Online Only: Ghost Kitchens

Delivery is killing it: Food delivery app downloads rose 380 percent over the past three years, and experts predict restaurant delivery sales to rise $76 billion in the next four. Some restaurants now design with an eye for delivery, with menu redesigns, alternative takeout packaging and separate kitchens dedicated to mobile orders, while others are going even further, eliminating the restaurant altogether.

Restaurant operators are increasingly turning to virtual restaurants or “ghost kitchens” — restaurants with no brick-and-mortar presence — to meet the boom in demand for takeout and delivery.

Wendy’s plans for ghost kitchens as a significant part of the chain’s 2020 expansion strategy and aims to use these in high-delivery areas and regions where the chain has not yet opened locations.

Third-party delivery services demonstrate strong commitment to ghost kitchens; however, Uber Eats represents the heaviest investment. It now claims the spot as the fastest-growing service, thanks to its virtual restaurant program, which now works with over 1,600 virtual restaurants in 300 cities.

5.2 Redesigning the Drive-through

Drive-through tops the list of off-premise dining used by consumers. Almost all (92%) order via that channel at least once per month, and major quick-service restaurants (QSRs) still see over half of their orders come from the drive-through window. However, waits are getting longer. In response, tech companies and QSRs alike are implementing tech-driven initiatives to cut times.

Kentucky Fried Chicken piloted its first-ever drive-through concept store, which aims to speed up the process of ordering, paying for and collecting food by using digital integration. This streamlined setup also serves as the ideal for delivery drivers picking up food by cutting wait and collect times for a customer’s order.

McDonald’s purchased Apprente, a voice recognition start-up, which provides the chain with the capability to take orders autonomously at drive-throughs. This represents the second significant investment in the company’s evolution of its current drive-throughs. Earlier in 2019, the company bought Dynamic Yield, which customizes drive-through menus based on factors like weather and time of day.

5.3 Reinventing Retail

Grocery has been slow to adopt the newest tech and trends; however, industry pressure to adopt faster, more convenient add-ons, like delivery, pushes for a more seamless integration of retail with technology. Some brands continue to push boundaries, eliminating the need for consumers to ever step in store in order to have groceries in their cabinets.

Kroger partnered with Microsoft to connect its digital shelves with Kroger’s scan-and-go shopping app to guide customers through their shopping lists and provide employees with visual cues to help them pick and fulfill curbside delivery orders quickly. Developed with its own Sunrise Technologies unit, the grocery giant looks to license its in-house-built digital shelf and other technologies, even to rival retailers.

Consumers no longer need to shop in-store in order to receive their groceries. Following on the heels of its significant success in the grocery space, Walmart introduced its InHome grocery delivery membership program at three different cities in October 2019. The company maintains plans to expand the pilot program nationwide.

The annual ©quench Food & Beverage Trends Report is a production of quench food & beverage marketing agency, part of Pavone Marketing Group. Media contact: Elise Brown (ebrown@quenchagency.com, 215.990.6955)