Transparency at the top of food and beverage innovation trends of 2021 – Innova

WORLD – Transparency has emerged as the leading consumer trend in 2021, with companies and brands upping their game to meet evolving ethical, environmental and clean label consumer demands projected to be clear winners in the marketplace, a new report says.

The Innova Market Insights’ Top Ten Trends for 2021, which equips manufacturers, retailers and brands with the latest insights to drive innovation and answer current consumer demands, notes that the food and beverage industry has progressively evolved as the COVID-19 pandemic transforms consumer shopping and eating habits around the World.

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“The ever-evolving food and beverage industry has seen a significant consumer push for transparency throughout the supply chain, immunity-boosting products and the use of technology. 2021 is a huge year for opportunities and innovation that meet these needs,” reveals Lu Ann Williams, the Director of Insights and Innovation at Innova Market Insights.

According to the Lu Ann Williams, transparency, plant-based foods, personal nutrition, omni-channel shopping and immune health are the top five trends in the food space in 2021 – but it is transparency that has consumers talking and seeking solutions from food manufacturers.

“Transparency throughout the supply chain will dominate in 2021, with consumers searching for brands that can build trust, provide authentic and credible products, and create shopper confidence in the current and post-COVID climate.”

Lu Ann Williams, the Director of Insights and Innovation at Innova Market Insights

The survey reveals that 60% of global consumers are interested in learning more about where their foods come from. 

“Transparency dominates consumer demand in 2021. Increasing transparency to meet evolving ethical, environmental and clean label consumer demands is key,” declares the report, adding that brands adopting and pairing new packaging technologies such as invisible barcodes and near-field communication technology with creative, meaningful storytelling will be successful.

“The consumer lifestyle trend toward cleaner living is broadening and heightening expectations around what constitutes a clean label. Aspects include human/animal welfare, supply chain transparency, plant-powered nutrition and sustainable sourcing,” it reveals.

As COVID-19 transforms our shopping and eating habits, staying ahead of the curve and keeping on top of the changing and sophisticated food and beverage landscape is of paramount importance for food companies, Innova urges.

The pandemic has bolstered consumer focus on overall health and immunity, with consumers seeking foods and ingredients that support personal health and attention is now on the post-COVID landscape to explore how these new behaviors will shape the future of the food and beverage industry, the research company urges.

“Transparency throughout the supply chain will dominate in 2021, with consumers searching for brands that can build trust, provide authentic and credible products, and create shopper confidence in the current and post-COVID climate,”underlines Lu Ann Williams.

Plant power

According to the survey, as plant-based trends reach global phenomenon status, the “plant-based” definition is ever-evolving, with its rising mainstream appeal going to drive expansion to different regions and categories in 2021, including accelerated demand for new formats, plant proteins and more sophisticated alternatives. 

The report echoes similar findings by other players in the food sector.

According to a recent report by Tetra Pak and Lund University in Sweden, the dairy industry is set to undergo a major transformation by 2030 as dairy alternative products are forecasted to become mainstream in many markets, reducing the consumption of milk derived from cows, with the demand for dairy alternatives forecasted to increase by 25%-65% by 2030.

It adds that propelled by sustainability and animal welfare concerns, lab-grown foods have the potential to disrupt the industry by mainstreaming the use of new technologies, with the top four reasons for consumers considering plant-based alternatives being health, diet variety, sustainability and taste. 

Innova informs that as consumers are powering up on plant protein, opportunities and challenges relating to regional consumer preferences and sustainability expectations are attracting attention. 

The other trend is the rise in personalized nutrition, as consumers look for food and beverage options that fit their unique lifestyles. “Consumers expect a tailored approach to eating, with technological breakthroughs, constant new launches and exciting sensorial experiences providing the opportunity for customized lifestyles to extend to food and beverage consumption,” the report asserts. 

But, while sophisticated personalized nutrition advice on functional foods is still expensive, Innova says that the emergence of technology platforms allows for comparable customer service via automation. The survey found that 64% of global consumers have found more ways to tailor their life and products to their individual style, beliefs and needs. 

More channel options for consumers

The survey adds to the emerging trend of consumers seeking more alternatives for their shopping experiences, which has been exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic, adding that ‘as foodservice and retail domains increasingly overlap, consumers can eat what they want, when and where they want it.’ 

“Consumers are seeking convenience, richer experiences and accessible indulgence. Traditional hospitality is getting edged out, particularly with COVID-19 giving consumers more time to stay at home and sharpen their own culinary prowess. Increased home cooking is driving the use of convenient meal kits/starters and more sophisticated ingredients, resulting in new food experiences.”

The surbey found 46% of consumers believe restaurant-branded products are a convenient way to attain the restaurant experience and flavors at home, reiterating that along with restaurant delivery growing, consumers can now directly access many specialty products that were previously only accessible via foodservice. 

The report notes that with the ongoing anxiety stemming from COVID-19, consumers will prioritize their immune health into 2021. It reveals that 60% of global consumers are increasingly looking for food and beverage products that support their immune health, with one in three saying that concerns about immune health increased in 2020 over 2019. 

Innova advices that immunity-boosting ingredients will play a significant role in the coming year, while research and interest in the role of the microbiome and personalized nutrition as ways to strengthen immunity will accelerate.

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