Top 10 food and beverage trends to watch out for in 2019
Over the past year, FDF World has kept its finger on the pulse of the food and drink sector. From cutting-edge technologies to unexpected mergers and acquisitions, 2018 proved to be an eventful year — and we expect nothing less in the months to come. Looking forward, we predict the top trends that will shake up the sector in 2019.
10 | Experience Economy
Whether dining in a pop-up restaurant or getting a true slice of local cuisine, the rise of the ‘experiential diner’ has created ripples in the food and beverage sector. According to a survey by Eventbrite, 75% of people said that they believe unique dining experiences are worth paying more for. In an exclusive interview with FDF World, Gustaf Pilebjer, Marriott International’s Director of Food and Beverage for Europe, said that there is no “cookie-cutter solution” for food and beverage. He argued that if restaurant owners wish to tap into the rise of experiential diners they need to deliver unique, culturally-relevant experiences. “It’s also about experience,” he explains. “Diners today are seeking out culinary experiences. When our travellers fly to Istanbul, they don't want to sit down and have a slice of pizza. They want to have an authentic taste of where they are.
9 | Cannabis-infused food and beverages
As legalisation spreads across North America and beyond, cannabis holds a new opportunity for drink makers looking for the next big thing. Many beverage behemoths are already positioning themselves for the growing trend. Last year, Constellation Brands, the company behind Corona Extra Modelo Especial and SVEDKA Vodka, announced it had bought a 9.9% stake in Canadian cannabis producer Canopy Growth Corporation. At the same time, Keith Villa, founder of Blue Moon beer, announced that he was launching a non-alcoholic, THC-infused beer company called Ceria Beverages. It’s a growing market – last year cannabis beverage sales hit $35.6mn – and if it continues on its upward trajectory it could remain a key trend in 2019.
8 | Convenience
In today’s food and beverage market, convenience is king. In 2018, this has given rise to the snacking and ‘grab and go’ market but, perhaps more than anything, it has also helped to fuel the booming takeaway market. Worldwide, the market for food delivery stands at EU€83bn (US$96.2bn) or 4% of food sold through restaurants and fast-food chains, according to McKinsey. This is good news for food delivery brands such as Deliveroo, Just Eat, Hungry House and UberEats but it could also prove to be a key trend for restaurants and fast food chains to tap into in 2019.
7 | Food safety
Consumer trust in the food and drink industry is waning fast. In fact, a study by the Center for Food Integrity went so far to say that there is a “trust deficit” that exists between consumers and the sector as a whole. As retailers are under greater scrutiny to deliver higher-quality food at more competitive prices and as supply chains become more complex this problem has been amplified by food scandals and food fraud. In a survey by NFU Mutual, for instance, one-third of British people said that they are less trusting of products and retailers than they were five years ago. To tackle this, producers, retailers and caterers may consider using shorter or local supply chains to win the hearts and confidence of their customers. Alternatively, technology like blockchain could play a key role. Regardless of the solution, however, it seems that enhancing food safety and improving consumer trust will continue to remain the issue on everyone’s lips in 2019.
6 | Plant-based food
Some trends may come and go but it seems the plant-based food movement is more than just a fad. Last year, sales of plant-based food in the US went up by 8.1% compared to the year before, topping US$3.1bn, according to research carried out by Nielsen for the Plant Based Foods Association (PBFA). Additionally, whilst plant-based milk sales grew 3.1% last year, cow’s milk sales declined 5% and are projected to drop another 11% through 2020, according to Mintel. Recognised by business leaders and executives alike, the plant-based food and beverage market has seen growing investments, mergers and acquisitions. For instance, last year, Nestlé bought vegetarian company Sweet Earth Foods. Commenting on the acquisition, Nestlé USA chairman and CEO, Paul Grimwood, said: “One of Nestlé’s strategic priorities is to build out our portfolio of vegetarian and flexitarian choices in line with modern health trends.”
5 | Hyper-local supply chains
When fruit and vegetables have to travel to reach our plates, it not only results in unnecessary air miles but it may also reduce the nutritional value. This, combined with a consumer desire to see where their food truly comes from, has given rise to hyper-local supply chains. Hyper-local refers to food that is locally sourced or grown in-house, such as restaurant gardens. On a practical level, this trend isn’t for everyone — after all, you need the space and time to tend to a garden, even a small one — but for some restaurants, it’s proven to be a hit. The Black Swan restaurant in Yorkshire, for instance, was named as the “world’s best-reviewed restaurant in the world” in 2017 after it won TripAdvisor’s Travellers’ Choice Restaurants Awards. It was praised highly for its hyper-local produce; with about two-and-a-half acres of land, almost all of the restaurant's fruit and vegetables are grown on-site or in their parent’s nearby farm.
4 | The plastic revolution
As more plastic packaging is found adrift in the world’s oceans, it’s driving brands to reconsider the way they package their food and drinks. Many have already made significant steps to tackle their plastic use. In London, Starbucks trialled a so-called ‘latte levy’ on its single-use paper cups to reduce waste and McDonald’s has replaced plastic straws with paper ones in all its UK and Ireland restaurants. The world’s largest brewer, Anheuser-Busch InBev (AB InBev), has also pledged to use circular packaging by 2025 as part of its sustainability goals. As the fight against plastic heats up, food and beverage companies would do well to look at how their packaging can be made more environmentally sustainable in 2019.
3 | Moderation is the new mainstream
With ‘Dry January’ around the corner, many consumers will be forfeiting their favourite tipple for a month in aid of their health. Yet, growing research has shown that, for an increasing number of people, it could be an entirely dry year as low – and no-alcohol drinks become a more common lifestyle choice. In the UK alone, more than 1.4mn UK households bought a no – or low-alcohol beer in the last year - a 57% increase on two years ago, according to Kantar Worldpanel. Beverage companies, mixologists and supermarkets are increasingly embracing the low-alcohol and no-alcohol trend too. Heineken, Adnams, and Guinness are just some beverage giants that have launched no – and low-alcohol beers this year
2 | Technological innovation
From AI to blockchain, robotics to big data, digitisation has turned the food and beverage sector on its head. For instance, French retailer Carrefour made headlines this year when it pioneered a new blockchain to trace food from farms to stores, helping to drive food safety. Walmart has also led the way with substantial technology investments, trialling a new robotics system that picks customers’ grocery orders, a high-tech distribution centre, automated floor scrubbers and more. Looking to 2019, more food tech is set to enter the mainstream helping to fuel greater omnichannel shopping experiences.
1 | Gut-friendly food
With fermenting, pickling and preserving reaching the mainstream, gut health has established itself as a key trend to watch out for next year. It has also received the seal of approval from food and beverage behemoths like the Coca-Cola Company. In October, the world’s biggest beverage company acquired kombucha maker Organic & Raw Trading Co., which makes the MOJO brand of naturally-fermented, live culture, drinks, signalling the fast-emerging trend. As more scientific evidence mounts up in favour of gut-friendly foods, probiotics like kimchi, miso, kefir, and kombucha are set to become commonplace on our grocery shelves.