Nootropics to super-premium pet food: KeHE reveals top five grocery trends for 2020

By Mary Ellen Shoup contact

- Last updated on GMT

 ©GettyImages / VLG
©GettyImages / VLG

Related tags: KeHE, food trends, pet food

KeHE, distributor of natural, fresh, specialty, and organic foods products, predicts personal and environmental wellness to be top of mind for consumers next year.

Brain nutrition, a 'no-brainer' for consumers

"As a society, we're stressed out. Brands in the food, beverage, beauty, and supplement industries are turning to a new way to improve our mental health and wellness with nootropics,"​ said KeHE's team of 'product innovation gurus,' who added that consumers will be seeking out common nootropic ingredients including caffeine, creatine, L-theanine, Rhodiola, and Bacopa.

According to IRI/SPINS sales data, these functional ingredients have seen a 37% increase in sales or $383m across all natural and conventional retail channels in the last year.

"The rise in sales indicates the consumer's need for products to support brain health. While you'll find most nootropics in the supplement aisle; skincare, meal replacements, and sport energy drinks are next,"​ predicted KeHE. 

Taking care of the planet

Discussions of climate change and improving the health of the plant came to the forefront this year, and consumers are taking action, according to KeHE. 

"Customers are fired up about taking care of the environment. From farming practices and manufacturing processes, to packaging, recycling and reducing waste, people are taking note of more sustainable practices available within the product lifecycle. Shoppers are putting their dollars to good use by buying more sustainable products,"​ noted KeHE.

In the US, 57% of consumers now expect brands to be a force for positive environmental change, highlighting the importance of brands and retailers taking an active role in driving sustainability.

Rise of super-premium pet food

"Pet food, the fastest-growing category in center store grocery, is fueled by innovation in natural and specialty pet food, which shows with its 25% growth. Natural, organic and premium pet food brands are centering their products around catering to pet owners' needs by optimizing nutrition and ensuring safety for pets,"​ said KeHE.  

Why the increase? According to KeHE, it's younger consumers (18-34 years of age) looking for super-premium (fresh, customized, clean ingredient) pet food ensuring continued premiumization of the category in the coming years.

"To them, their pets are family, and they want to feed them like family. Loving your pet goes beyond playtime and belly rubs, pet owners are now just as concerned with what goes in their furry friend's gut as when they think about their wellbeing."

CBD hits a high note

"CBD, also known as cannabidiol, represents a huge opportunity in the food and beverage industry, pending potential FDA regulation updates. Considered as a 'healthy' functional ingredient, typically by younger consumers, CBD is claimed to provide body and mind wellness with pain relief and anxiety, and to improve sleep. The newfound interest has sparked innovation within categories such as skincare, cosmetics, supplements, pet care, snacks, candy, and beverages," ​claimed KeHE. 

And regulatory hurdles notwithstanding, hemp-derived CBD has popped up on restaurant menus across the US, noted KeHE.

About a quarter (24%) of Gen Z and 20% of younger millennials said they want to see more food and beverages containing CBD in fast-food restaurants, according to Mintel's Menu Trendspotting report from September 2019. 

"Think about those sales figures if federally approved. Until then, any food (including any animal food or feed) to which THC or CBD has been added to is prohibited,"​ said KeHE.

The microbiome: A macro trend

"From moms to influencers, it seems as if everyone is talking about gut health – specifically microbiome health,"​ referring to the trillions of bacteria, fungi, and organisms in the human gut, which play an important role digestive and immune health, said KeHE. 

"A range of functional ingredients, such as fiber, probiotics, prebiotics, and postbiotics, are emerging in the food and beverage products to support gut health.

"One emerging term that has started to pop up on social media feeds is 'postbiotics', which refer to non-viable bacteria that can help with absorbing nutrients, regulating digestion, and improving gut-brain communication. Postbiotics mostly apply to personal care products but are expected to grow into functional categories soon,"​ added KeHE. 

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