The pandemic has exaggerated the focus on overall health and immunity, with consumers seeking out foods, beverages and ingredients that support personal health and wellness. As we head into 2021, out into the post-COVID landscape we are set to explore how these new behaviors will shape the future of the food and beverage sector. Most noticeably, transparency throughout the supply chain is a keen priority for the new consumer searching for fresh brands. Transparency can build trust, provide authentic and credible products, and create shopper confidence.
Here are the top 4 innovation trends for early 2021.
Transparency is in demand for this coming year. Transparency that reveals ethical, environmentally sustainable and clean, clear labelling is key to the smarter consumer of today. With a fresh NPD approach & fast innovation thinking at the forefront, brands are adopting and pairing new packaging formats and packaging technologies such as invisible barcodes to inspire shelf attention. The clean-living consumer is often interested in sustainable sourcing, welfare and supply chain handling as well as clear nutritional labelling.
Consumers are prioritising their immune health this year. Immunity-boosting ingredients will play a significant role in 2021, while research and interest in the role of personalised nutrition to strengthen immunity will accelerate. There is a growing focus on health-focused NPD creativity and prototyping in food & beverage products to improve sleep, anxiety, gut health & general mental wellbeing.
Plant based demand is not a new trend, but it is an ever-evolving demand across vast food & beverage categories with an advancing global appeal. Originally interests were propelled by sustainability and animal welfare but now improved nutriscore, diet variety, sustainability and taste are forefront reasons for switching to plant-based options. Large & small brands are looking at line extension, adjacencies and improving their current portfolio to advance and unlock the plant-based space.
4. Direct to Consumer / Omni-channel
2020 saw foodservice and retail domains overlapping. Consumer accessibility to restaurant branded products sent to their home became a growing habit. The pandemic has provided consumers with more time to stay at home and sharpen their thinking and culinary prowess. Increased home cooking is driving the use of convenient meal kits/starters and more sophisticated ingredients, resulting in new food experiences. DTC and omni-channel experiences are set to continue in 2021, with fast track NPD to continue to capture the demand for healthy home cooking, purchase products direct from brand e-commerce stores, as well as meal kits and ordering restaurant meals delivered to the home.
The 2020 global pandemic fueled significant, disruptive changes in consumer buying decisions. Brands, innovation and marketing leads must evaluate the new growing demands and act fast to adapt current product portfolios to sustain shelf attention in store & online.