2018 Food and beverage industry: 5 Trends to watch

Categories: Food and Beverage
February 6, 2018
Food distribution software

Consumers want locally sourced ingredients and transparency in labeling.

More choice, fresher ingredients, and an expectation for personalized options will drive consumers in 2018. For the food and beverage manufacturing industry, being able to respond, personalize, and reduce logistical costs are the best ways to meet these growing expectations.

As seen in the recent post, Top Trends in ERP for 2018, technology will be a driving force for manufacturers looking to stay ahead. Here is what manufacturers need to be aware of in the 2018 food and beverage industry.

1. The growth of local

While locally produced products have been de riguer for several years, the importance of producing locally grown and sourced foods and beverages will only intensify this year. Consumers associate such products with social responsibility, freshness, high levels of quality, and healthier options.

Local can mean different things to different consumers. For some, it means family-owned production. For others, it is all about farm-to-counter or close to that standard. Others take it to mean it is produced by smaller operations within a radius from their homes, say, 100 miles.

Manufacturers need to identify ways to incorporate local – defined in different ways – and highlight those differences.

2. Transparency in labeling

A recent survey on 2018 food and drink trends by Mintel shows the growing importance of providing more detailed information about sourcing and safety on food labels. Among food and drink launches between September 2016 and August 2017, 29 percent of products were noted as “natural” (organic, GMO-free, or free of additives and preservatives). That is up from 17 percent of product launches a decade earlier.

Ethical and environmental claims, such as using environmentally friendly packaging or having other animal welfare and human welfare claims, appeared on 22 percent of new products during that timeframe, up from just one percent 10 years ago.

For industry players, that means more pressure to provide details about ingredients, processes, and sources. Consumers are demanding more about how, when, where, and by whom their products are grown, made, and sold.

Food distribution software

Adding new textures to products is seen as a growing trend in 2018.

3. Busy lifestyles, balanced choices

Consumers are facing longer hours and more demands, especially from dual-working-parent households, to have balance and nutrition in their food while ensuring good taste. These same consumers are sometimes faced with conflicting reports about whether a product is good or bad for you (wine, coffee, eggs being three notorious examples).

Plant-based foods will continue to be popular, with the right fruits, vegetables, grains, herbs, spices, and seeds comprising a larger portion of consumables. Manufacturers can tout both the physical and mental advantages of consuming such product, offer products that are perceived as positive options, make products customizable, and meet the formulas and portion sizes that fit with consumers in various circumstances.

4. Role of big data

Big Data is poised to have an ever-increasing role in 2018. With enterprise resource planning and food distribution software becoming more the norm, manufacturers are finally able to leverage the capabilities of powerful data collection, display, reporting, and analytics.

Gathering data throughout the supply chain, and from customers and consumers, will allow companies to do even more with more information. This data will allow for better decisions throughout the manufacturing process, including pricing, product mix, demand planning, forecasting, market reach, and operational efficacy.

5. Texture takes the stage

Texture is taking its place alongside color, smell, and taste in the importance of food choices in 2018. Adding fruit and vegetable pulp to drinks, combining seeds and grains into foods and juices, and using spiciness and carbonation in unique ways are all becoming more popular options.

Manufacturers will need to experiment to understand what consumers want and expect as the consumer “eats with his or her eyes” more and more.

At NexTec Group, we help companies develop systems and select the tools necessary to innovate in 2018. Download the NexTec Corporate Brochure to learn more how NexTec can help your company stay ahead in the new year.