Food and beverage businesses should focus on the consumer, invest in tech, says Numerator

By Deniz Ataman

- Last updated on GMT

Image source: Getty/Klaus Vedfelt
Image source: Getty/Klaus Vedfelt

Related tags Fresh produce alternative proteins AI Nutrition

The intrinsic connection between consumer preferences and market dynamics will be shaped by a once limited and now more stable supply chain, improved inflationary pressures and a departure from COVID-19 concerns, giving brands more clarity on how to develop products, according to a report on 2023 trends by Numerator.

The global shift on the supply chain, economy and pandemic provide insights on how food and beverage products can address consumers’ evolving preferences on health and wellness, the report ​stated. Simultaneously, CPG companies have an opportunity to invest in R&D and technology to address nutrition-based products that address gut, immune and cognitive health.

Fresh produce and meat alternatives “have potential for growth​”

Given more awareness surrounding obesity and diet-related illnesses, consumers across generations are shifting towards fresher food options. Fresh produce and meat alternatives “have potential for growth​,” according to the report.

Valued at $92.88 billion in 2022 with a CAGR of 4.1% between 2023 to 2030, the fresh produce market​ is driven by an evolving digital strategy, especially as Gen Z and Millennials who are driven by convenience look to shop online, giving national online retailers like FreshDirect and local retailers like NY-based Farm to People​ a leg up in reaching younger consumers.

Consumer interest in plant-based meat alternatives has been inconsistent and for some currently is waning, as evidenced by the recent financial struggles of pioneering companies like Beyond Meat​, which reported a net revenue decline of 30%. This is largely due to the oversaturation of plant-based products made with more expensive alternative protein ingredients and consumer rejection of premium prices and skepticism of processed plant-based foods.

Despite the continued growth of the plant-based market, these specific challenges opened opportunities for companies to invest in R&D and technology, like AI and biotech, to discover new, functional and potentially less expensive alternative proteins in a faster manner.

Using AI, Protera Biosciences​’ predictive algorithm named MADI recognizes and analyzes billions of proteins that exist in nature; while Eternal​ (formerly Kernel Mycofoods) improves fungi fermentation techniques using AI and robotics to refine strains’ quality, taste, nutrition and sustainability.

Food as medicine continues to shape product development

Couple with healthier food trends, Numerator’s report also highlighted consumers’ interest in food as medicine that balances physical health and mental wellness​, a topic FoodNavigator-USA has covered extensively from prescription produce programs​ and mushrooms​ to gut-friendly snacks​ and the category blurring of functional beverages​.

The movement towards a balanced mindset was universal across all generations, ethnicities and income​,” with nearly two in three Americans wanting more balanced health and mental wellness, the report stated.

As consumers pursue a more balanced approach to health and mental wellness, brands are poised to develop and market products that provide mental comfort and fulfillment through nutritional ingredients for a cleaner, simpler label​.

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