12 Food Industry Megatrends

When it comes to food trends, all too often people mention something limited. A small idea like “I want to introduce something gluten-free that tastes great.” While this captures two important MegaTrends – health & wellness and quality – it doesn’t leverage larger opportunities that can help increase volume potential by simultaneously tapping into more MegaTrends. Remember, volume and margin are the two keys to profitability!

Common trends and business concepts for food businesses my clients and class attendees regularly mention include the following – which are not the MegaTrends:

  • Local, sustainable, animal-friendly, grass-fed, cage-free
  • High protein, low fat, good fat, low sugar, gluten-free, dairy-free
  • Paleo, vegetarian, vegan, raw
  • Superfoods, antioxidants, probiotics, omegas, natural non-sugar sweeteners
  • Non-GMO, organic, fair trade, halal, kosher
  • Asian inspired, Mediterranean diet, Latin fusion, African flavors
  • Ancient grains, coconut everything, bacon everything, seaweed, crickets / insects, Sriracha, seeds, shrubs
  • Bowls, mashups, munchies, bites
  • Fermented, alcohol-infused, slow food, fast food
  • Food trucks, online-delivery subscriptions, meal kits, boxes, apps, etc.

While these can be very important, and are highly appealing to the right audience, they can also be short-lived. Fads may seem great while the trend is rising, but relying on them can be financially dangerous as they taper off and decline.

  • Remember soy? Once hugely popular for its nutritional value, it’s now an ingredient many consumers avoid, and manufacturers remodel their products to exclude.
  • Not too long ago, agave was viewed as a wonder sugar! Today, like soy, it’s highly controversial.
  • Kale and quinoa, while still highly popular, are starting to be described as “oh-so-passe.”

Terms, too, can go out of style.

Already, words like “artisanal,” “handmade” and “all natural” (which isn’t officially defined by the FDA)  are losing their meaning, raising legal questions, and starting to disappear on manufacturer’s packaging and websites.

Is a product made for thousands of stores out of one facility really “small batch” anymore?

So what are the 12 big ideas or MegaTrends that can stand the test of time?  

These dozen MegaTrends, the really large channels that all trends can fit into, include some that may seem obvious, but are very important. The more of these that you combine into one meaningful package, the greater customer resonance your business can have. And that can translate into stronger awareness, trial and repeat sales!

  1. Absolutes / Controls, e.g. 100 calories, $.99 price point
  2. Adventure, e.g. ethnic, exotic, dangerous, spicy
  3. Comfort, e.g. food you grew up with or wanted to!
  4. Convenience, e.g. ease of use, access, speed
  5. Engagement & Empowerment, e.g. customization, interactive opportunities that create involvement
  6. Grazing / Snacking, e.g. cultural applications of small plates, bites
  7. Health & Wellness, e.g. “better for you” through choice and/or need
  8. Quality, e.g. ingredients, process, branding
  9. Technology, e.g. digital world, apps, processes
  10. Transparency, e.g. source, story, process
  11. Value to the user, e.g. “worth it” – more than just price
  12. Values, e.g. mission, animal cruelty, environment, food deserts, cause marketing

In order to optimize your brand’s volume potential and long term value / relevance, try to leverage something meaningful to your target audience from each of the above MegaTrends.
Consider layering relevant, mission-consistent trends into your offering(s) – whether applied to just one product, or all! If you do – I believe you’ll increase your reasons why customers want to purchase your products and engage with your brand, again and again.

Want more insights, tips, trends and industry event discounts? Sign up now for Culinest’s free monthly newsletter!
Interested in profitably growing a meaningful food business? Please contact Terry@Culinest.com.