The next decade's top food and beverage trends

Natural products industry veteran and CEO of Presence Marketing/Dynamic Presence Bill Weiland lays out the top trends he predicts will influence the industry in the decade to come. Weiland will present on industry trends at Natural Products Expo East, during the State of the Industry session from 3:45-5 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 19.

Health and wellness trends continue to influence all aspects of our society, both locally and globally. While diet and exercise may be leading the charge on the “high profile” awareness scale, household products are quickly evolving toward a more balanced portfolio, including many offerings with minimal toxicity and sustainably sourced base materials.

Here are 10 (plus a few extras) food and beverage market trends that will shape the natural products sphere and beyond over the next decade:

Locally sourced. Never more important and ready to take center stage as a platform to support local farmers and sate “localvores”, as they search for products produced in and around the communities, within which they live and work – one caveat – supply issues, as well as practicality will enforce the need to augment these featured offerings with products sourced from around the globe.

Expo East appearance:
Consumer Trends: State of the Industry
Friday, September 19
3:45 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Room 319
Baltimore Convention Center

Transparency. Where food comes from and how it is produced has never been so scrutinized…and for all of the right reasons, I might add. State ballot initiatives and legislative battles are cropping up all over the country and it is just a matter of time before mandatory federal labeling is in place for products containing GMO ingredients.

Presence Marketing has stepped up in a big way to support these labeling efforts with well over $1 million committed to state and federal labeling initiatives over the past 18 months, as well as hundreds of manpower hours toward educating consumers regarding their right to know what is in their food.

Gluten-free. Continues to be a prolific category with strong double digit growth forecasted for years to come, off of an extraordinarily robust base. Consumers are flocking to gluten-free as a result of continuing research that indicates many varieties of wheat have been overly hybridized influencing their function in baking circles in fundamentally positive and productive ways with improvement in both “rise” and texture for all baked goods. It is another story when analyzing gluten’s role in human nutrition, as the “sticky” nature of modern wheat makes it much harder to digest than heirloom strains like Kamut, Spelt and Einkorn. People with a severe sensitivity to gluten may have to avoid all gluten bearing grains but all or most of us will have positive effects on digestion, energy and mobility/flexibility by reducing or eliminating gluten, especially from wheat sources.

Grass-fed. Feeding cows their native diet of pasture based grasses, with hay rounding out their diets in the off season helps to creates vibrant, healthy animals while also dramatically improving the quality of their milk and meat. Simply shifting to milk, milk-by products and beef sourced from 100 percent grass-fed herds, may substantially improve a person's ability to gain the nutritional advantages of these “power foods” while greatly reducing the likelihood of cardiovascular health issues. Grass-fed beef and dairy products are higher in vitamins A and C, CLA’s and have a better balance of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids than their grain fed counterparts.

Functional Beverages. Liquid nutrition is a relatively new term in the lexicon of the average consumer but it is crashing on the scene like a proverbial waterfall as people become more aware of the benefits of staying hydrated, as well as the nutritional benefits of many liquid concoctions. From cold brewed coffee to coconut water, cold pressed juice to kombucha, teas and varietal herbal concoctions, beverages with nutritional benefits have become a cornerstone within the natural products industry and offer a tremendous opportunity for conventional retailers to capitalize on a robust, long term growth segment.

Five more trends shaping the industry

Cold pressed juices. Bursting on the scene in 2013 was a game-changing development within the natural juice segment, which has not only revitalized and broadened the category but also brought non-juice drinkers to the category in droves thanks to taste and nutritional profile that far surpass heat pasteurized offerings.

HPP or “High Hydrostatic Pressure Processing” is the method used when producing cold pressed juice. Bottles of raw, unprocessed juice are put into a chamber and exposed to water pressure equivalent to 87,000 pounds of pressure per square inch. The end resultant product is live, vital and maintains the quality, taste and nutritional integrity of fresh, raw juice. We are predicting that this category will surpass $1 billion in sales within five years.

Cold Brewed Coffee. Energy drinks have created amazing buzz for many years, as consumers turn to more natural sources of energy. Preferences for “naturally occurring” caffeinated beverages, such as coffee and tea, are continuing to earn their stripes as excellent choices for a morning or mid afternoon “pick me up."

Cold brewing maximizes nutrition and mitigates any acidic notes, while providing two to three times the caffeine and a smoother, more delicious cup of coffee. Look for concentrates and ready to drink varieties to give your customers the healthiest way to consume their “cup of Joe”.

Meat Snacks/Bars. There is a veritable stampede of new offerings coming to retail store shelves in the jerky and the about-to-be-clearly-defined “meat bar” categories. With the ever-increasing movement to minimize sugar consumption and reduce simple carbohydrates and gluten-bearing grains, meat snacks have never been so sexy.

Traditional jerkey offerings in grocery stores are chemical and preservative-laden and hardly resemble the dehydrated meat or pemmican food from our country’s Native American roots. Consumers are ready to jump on board with bars made from beef, buffalo, pork, turkey, etc., combined with various fruits, nuts and seasoning, as these items offer powerhouse nutrition with minimal sugar and maximum protein.

We are looking for meat bars to have a quick run up to $100 million and then likely hit another gear toward becoming a substantial food segment, rivaling jerky, as a tasty and convenient way to consume high quality meat on the go.

Nut and Seed Butters. Actually, nuts and seeds of all types are trending favorably but it is worth noting that the nut butter category is all of a sudden posting a 30 percent growth rate and rounding out to be very diverse in terms of its overall product offerings. Nuts and seeds are storehouses of nutrition, providing high quality fats, protein, fiber and appreciable amounts of vitamins and minerals, most notably vitamin E and calcium.

Each nut and seed has its own impressive nutritional profile and it is products of this ilk - combinations of nuts and seeds, which represent some of the best opportunities to capture more sales as consumers become more adventurous and branch out from traditional offerings in this category.

Other Categories of Note

All things coconut. Water, milk, cream (don’t fear the fat), dried, etc.
Chocolate and varietal candies. Chocolate is still posting strong double digit growth and is forecasted to continue trending positively for years to come. Natural and organic candy bars, gum, hard candies and gummies/fruit chews are continuing to gain traction as well.
Organic baby food. The category is growing 20-plus percent as consumers look for the purest offerings to feed their children.
“Healthy” salted snacks. Offerings like kale chips and other veggie snacks continue to grow, while bean-based and “super food” chips (fiber, protein, seed and super grain-infused) will be great opportunities to capture sales as consumers look to snacks for nutritional horsepower.
Fermented foods. Virtually every culture that posts inordinately long life spans has some cultural food or beverage in the center of its diet. Coincidence? I think not! Fermented foods improve digestion and are loaded with easy-to-digest nutrients making them must-haves for the health-conscious consumer. From yogurt and kombucha to naturally pickled vegetables, fermented foods offer tremendous health benefits for consumers and great sales opportunities for retailers.
Organic frozen fruits and veggies. As people get busier, high-quality convenience foods continue to thrive. Frozen, organic fruits and vegetables are posting nearly 25 percent growth and should be a mainstay in any sized store's frozen door schematic.
Baking mixes, eggs, frozen meat/poultry, seafood and refrigerated non-dairy beverages are all posting 20 percent-plus growth rates as well and round out our watch list for favorable upcoming food and beverage market trends.

Bill Weiland is the President and CEO of Presence Marketing/Dynamic Presence. After nearly a dozen years of working in the Natural Products Industry, in varied roles within the sales and retail sectors, Bill launched Presence Marketing in January, 1990. Presence Marketing/Dynamic Presence is the only independently owned national and natural products brokerage in the United States. Named by Forbes Magazine as one of the "Top 25 Most Influential "Kingmakers" in Consumer and Retailer Companies," Bill Weiland has grown Presence Marketing / Dynamic Presence into the largest independent natural and organic products brokerage in the U.S. In working with leading national brands as well as successful startups, Bill has a keen eye on consumer and product trends driving the rapidly growing healthy lifestyles market. Bill also is a leading supporter of consumer transparency and GMO labeling.

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