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Looking to the future: key food and beverage trends

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The pandemic and its impact on the global climate is ever-changing which means consumer brands and manufacturers must remain agile. Food & Beverage Industry News reports.

The past two years have been interesting for both manufacturers and consumers as COVID-19 transformed the way people shop and live.

Many countries around the world have requested its population curb the amount of social interaction between people and have suggested limits on public gatherings, dining out, out-of-home entertainment and more.

As such, consumers have had the ability to turn inward and reflect on their priorities during what some may feel is an isolating time.

A large number of consumers have focused on general health and immunity – with hand washing, face masks and social distancing becoming the norm.

In terms of COVID-19’s impact on the food and beverage industry, consumers are cooking at home and seeking food and ingredients that support overall health. It’s important to consider how these new behaviours will shape the future of the industry for now and the future.

Pall Corporation has looked at four trends and their potential impacts on food and beverage manufacturers.

Plant proteins go global

Plant-based food products are on the way to reaching world phenomenon status as the trend is consistently evolving. Investment firm UBS projects global growth to increase from $4.6 billion in 2018 to $85 billion in 2030, and a recent study from DuPont Nutrition and Health found that 52 per cent of US consumers are eating more plant-based foods because they believe it makes them healthier.

Its rising mainstream appeal will drive expansion to different regions and categories, including accelerated demand for new formats, plant proteins and sophisticated alternatives.

This means that manufacturers not only have to build a protein base but must format and flavour it. For some manufacturers, this demand is outpacing the development of plant-based food technologies designed to combat the unique challenges associated with such products.

Plant proteins often bring bitterness, making taste modulators an often-necessary addition. They can also be gritty or crumbly, creating a need for ingredients that create smoother and more cohesive formulations.

In order to preserve natural functionalities, the production process must minimise potential denaturation effects (thermal, chemical or mechanical) and prevent contamination (suspended solids, bioburden, fat). Manufacturers who master this will be able to grow their product-demand.

Hard seltzer still maintaining popularity

Non-alcoholic and alcoholic drinks are starting to converge as consumers continue to look at ways to live healthier. According to FoodDive, in 2019, sales of hard seltzer increased by 193 per cent and malt-based cocktails increased by 574 per cent. As such, diversification is occurring as brands add malt-based beverages to their portfolio.

For example, ABInBev acquired SpikedSeltzer back in 2016 and Constellation Brands acquired minority stake in Press premium Hard Seltzer.

Generation Z and Millennials love “the claws,” often leveraging hashtags on social media to share their growing obsession with the WhiteClaw brand.

Other brands such as Bon and Viv, Truly and High Noon are also gaining notoriety amongst health-conscious consumers. To keep up with this consumer trend and remain competitive, beer and liquor producers must consider acquiring or creating a hard seltzer.

Unique flavours continue to dominate the market 

People around the world have been under orders to stay at-home or quarantine, therefore many are taking this time to channel their inner-chef and cooking meals at home to ensure that they stay healthy.

Consumers are expressing interest in healthier, immunity-boosting foods that are low in sugar. Immunity is one of the most talked about things right now given the current climate and flavours and ingredients such as turmeric, elderberry, echinacea and citrus are performing well.

Functional ingredients are also popular,  such as botanicals, spices, and healing herbs such as turmeric, ginger, lavender, and honey. These are ingredients consumers use as a quick way to instantly improve their diets.

On the flip side, there are some not interested in cooking, and those with a penchant for dining-out are relying on easy-to-prepare meals or packaged goods to alleviate some of pressures associated with the current COVID climate.

During stressful times, comfort food is a common indulgence for many.

Right now, consumers are looking for products that influence the way they feel, boosting nostalgic and comfort food flavours that resonate with them. This includes such products as chocolate, ice cream, cereal, cookie dough and macaroni and cheese.

For manufacturers, the colour, aroma, and taste of their flavours must be exact and there is little room for error. Being able to stay on top of these new trends also means overcoming technological limitations and improving systems and processes for better quality and efficiency.

Move over coconut oil – olive oil is making a comeback

When health-conscious consumers began cooking with alternatives to canola and vegetable oil, the oil market became ripe for disruption, with coconut and avocado oil entering the market. Paleo and keto diet trends have also grown in popularity, and as such, many consumers have started cooking again with real butter.

However, there has been a debate on whether or not medium-chain triglycerides (MCT)-rich products and flavoured butter are as healthy as consumers have been led to believe.

Although there is no clear evidence on whether they are good or bad, there is one fat backed with scientific evidence that it is good for your health: extra-virgin olive oil.

The compounds found in it, including Tyrosol and Elenolide, help to protect the body against neurodegenerative diseases and can also assist in lowering blood pressure.

Regardless of where consumers stand on the subject of which fats are healthier, olive oil has become, and will continue to be, a common pantry staple. According to ReportLinker.com the global olive oil market is estimated to reach $13.8 billion by 2027 (is this US or AUD? Change to AUD if US).

As the pandemic continues, many consumers are limiting their shopping excursions, making them consider products that have a long shelf life. That said, manufacturers producing olive oil must ensure that the product maintains its flavour and consistency, as well as shelf-stability.

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