2020 has started, and now is the ideal time to look at consumer preferences that are likely to impact the food and beverage industry. Here are 10 of those changes.
1. A Rising Interest in Gastrophysics
Although gastrophysics did not initially appear on the scene in 2020, it appears in many food and beverage trend forecasts for this year. Gastrophysics is the idea that numerous factors besides taste impact how people experience food and drinks, and it may even affect their mood. Anything from restaurant lighting to the color of a plate could become a factor.
Capitalize on this trend by being especially mindful of the nonfood-related aspects of your restaurant. Think about how they could enable people to have satisfying meals and want to return.
2. More People Selecting Plant-Based Options
Whether for health reasons, to help the planet, out of a concern for animal rights or other reasons, more people are eating plant-based diets. Many vegetarians and vegans initially struggled to find restaurants that catered to them, but no longer. Now, many fast-food restaurants have vegan fare, and more non-meat dishes line grocery store shelves.
Some consumers are suspicious and wonder if these brands are merely jumping on the bandwagon. You can reduce the likelihood of giving that impression by offering non-meat options that also have another benefit, such as that they feature ingredients from local farms. Then, even if people feel cynical, they can see that you made a thoughtful decision.
3. Concern About Excessive Packaging
People are more determined to reduce their waste, and many know recycling is not necessarily sufficient. That’s why edible packaging is a trend to watch in 2020. A New Zealand airline recently tested edible coffee cups, and researchers in the United Kingdom developed biodegradable and edible food wrap. Plastic water bottles are also most definitely out, with boxed water now in.
Since this whole idea is still an emerging one, the best thing to do is to stay abreast of new developments. Later, decide if your establishment should start using different packaging for food and beverages.
4. More People Choosing to Avoid or Reduce Alcohol Consumption
Analysts expect beverage manufacturers to continue offering more low- or no-alcohol options in 2020. Gen-Z reportedly discusses drinking alcohol on social media less often than other groups. Also, there is more overall awareness of the consequences of becoming addicted to alcohol.
More bars and restaurants are responding by offering non-alcoholic options on their menus. You can do the same, plus avoid positioning alcohol consumption as a pastime enjoyed by everyone who’s old enough.
5. A Desire to Pick Healthy Options Without Hassles
A 2019 survey found that 95% of Americans look for healthy choices when shopping. Also, although people frequently look at labels or ingredient lists to guide their selections, most of those polled agreed that a universal “healthy food” symbol would help. Eating certain consumables in moderation goes a long way. For example, almost half the sodium Americans eat comes from only 10 foods.
Researchers in Canada found that a “traffic light” labeling system could prevent premature deaths by showing consumers which foods have excessive fat, calories, or sodium. A similar approach could apply to sugary beverages. If a label shows nutrition information in red or yellow, consumers would know to be cautious and monitor their intake.
Tap into this trend by being more transparent about nutrition information for whatever you offer. Make the content readily available so that the people who want it don’t need to request it.
6. Curiosity About Cannabis
As more people notice the arrival of cannabis-infused food and beverages on the market, they’re starting to wonder about its benefits. Analysts believe 2020 is when companies will be ready to educate people by finding research and leading the way in helping consumers separate the facts from the fiction.
If you offer any food or drinks containing cannabis — provided you operate in a region that legalized it — prepare to answer questions and ease uncertainties. Showing knowledge could help you build trust in the marketplace.
7. Selection of Drinks That Do More
Mordor Intelligence expects the functional beverage industry to show an 8.66% combined annual growth rate between 2019 and 2024. It also mentions that people are willing to pay more for drinks in that category. Such beverages contain vitamins, herbs, and other ingredients that claim to offer health benefits beyond hydration.
Consider offering only a few functional beverages at first. Then, scale up if customer feedback and sales warrant it.
8. Consumers Wanting Healthier Cuisine for Children
The New York Times predicts that 2020 may be the year that kids’ menus finally feature more mature options. The publication mentions that millennials parent more than half of the kids in the United States. Those adults may want to raise children who aren’t as familiar with junk food compared to previous generations, which means that upcoming menus for children may feature less processed food and more diversity.
Anticipate the potential shift by thinking about how you might branch out and offer new fare for kids soon. Ponder how you’ll meet parents’ expectations while catering to picky eaters.
9. Dining out Alone Getting More Popular
Brandwatch reports that people are eating alone more often in restaurants. They recommend that waitstaff make experiences delightful for those diners. They won’t spend as much as a family but are often eager to share their experiences on social media, which could bode well for restaurant reputation.
10. People Open to Eating Upscale Food at Home
2019 showed the rise of “ghost kitchens” that offer restaurant-made food and operate a delivery-only model. Analysts believe that trend will pick up momentum in 2020 due to the low overhead and ability to bring new foods to customers with relative ease.
This trend is particularly suitable for brands that want to expand but do it gradually. Before going all in, however, do some research to ensure that the market wants what you’ll offer.
An Exciting Year Ahead
This list suggests that societal preferences will strongly influence what happens in the food and beverage sector. You can get ready by showing awareness and considering the tips mentioned here.
Written by: Megan Ray Nichols, BOSS Contributor
Megan is a STEM writer and blogger at https://schooledbyscience.com/