In its latest research, Packaged Facts focused on the core disruptive trends occurring across all retail channels in 14 food categories: cereal, chocolate candy, cookies, fresh bread, fresh packaged salads, frozen dinners/entrees, frozen pizza, ice cream/frozen novelties, meal/snack bars, meat/poultry, natural & specialty cheese, salty snacks, soup, and yogurt.
1. Local as the new organic
Organic has been a huge growth driver across several food categories, especially fresh produce. However, consumers are starting to value products with local credentials that don't have to travel as far to get to the store shelves.
"The vast majority of greens in the US come from California and Arizona, which means much of the country gets not so fresh product," said Packaged Facts.
Local produce also is seen as safer by consumers because it is not handled so ,many times before purchase.
BrightFarms, a hydroponic produce company that grows different varieties of baby lettuce in indoor greenhouses, is on track to double its greenhouse faculties this year giving more conventional retailers access to fresh, local produce year round. According to BrightFarms, its baby greens travel no more than 200 miles to reach the store shelves.
BrightFarms VP of marketing and innovation, Abby Prior, previously told FoodNavigator-USA: “There’s no question that the demand for local now outweighs the demand for organic. We like to think of local today being where organic was 15 years ago.”
2. Restaurant quality food at home
Packaged Facts' research found that consumers are looking for at-home food products that deliver 'restaurant quality' and 'chef-inspired' meals.
"Increasingly, Mmllennials and other younger people want greater authenticity that comes from involvement with real chefs who seem to be cooking the meals in a kitchen, rather than in a big industrial food processing plant," Packaged Facts specified.
According to online grocer Peapod's annual survey of 1,000 adults in 2018, consumers have a renewed and growing appreciation for home cooked meals. More than three-quarters (77%) of the 1,003 adults (501 mean and 502 women, aged 18 and older) surveyed said they would rather eat a homemade meal than go out for dinner, with 59% of millennial-aged respondents prioritizing cooling more meals at home next year.
The frozen foods section is benefiting from the move from restaurant meals back to home-cooked meals, Packaged Facts noted, with a number of product innovations such as Grainful's grain-based frozen entrees and ConAgra-owned Frontera Foods' range of Mexican-inspired bowls and skillets created by Chicago chef and restaurant owner Rick Bayless.
3. Small players shaking up the status quo
According to Packaged Facts, small emerging food and beverage companies are challenging the status quo and are breaking new ground across categories.
The ice cream category is one example of this where the little guy is giving some traditional, veteran ice brands are run for their money.
"In the ice cream segment, it took a small upstart to disrupt the category and force everybody else to play catch-up. Better-for-you ice cream brand Halo Top launched in 2012 and exploded in popularity over the last several years, as a lot of consumers fell in love with its high protein, low-calorie, reduced sugar platform that promises the taste and feel of regular ice cream—though not everyone loves the results," Packaged Facts said.
As a result, older more established brands have launched new products to compete and differentiate themselves in the ice cream space. Unilever recently launched a new brand of better-for-you ice cream called Culture Republik with added protein and probiotics.
4. A dose of gut health at breakfast
An increased consumer interest in gut health has given rise to a bevy of fermented and probiotic-rich foods such as yogurt, kefir, kombucha, and kimchi. Now, other food categories are entering the gut-friendly space, Packaged Facts has observed.
According to a survey by ingredient supplier Kerry, 83% of consumers are familiar with probiotics and 53% think that they have a positive impact on health. In addition, a similar survey found that “probiotics” is a term that consumers associate with digestive health, but also other benefits including immune health and general wellbeing.
"Cereal makers have joined some in other food categories that are incorporating probiotics and other gut-healthy ingredients into new products. Kellogg's recent HI! Happy Inside cereal promotes digestive wellness with prebiotics, probiotics, and fiber," Packaged Facts noted.
The cereal brand contains 1 billion live probiotics from active strains, 2.5 grams of prebiotics, and 8 to 9 grams of fiber per serving, according to Kellogg's.
Also within the breakfast category, thinkThin recently launched a line of protein and probiotic oatmeal, and Purely Elizabeth has a line of probiotic granola in a variety of flavors.