News & Insights

Disrupting the Food Industry: Trends Food Brands Must Embrace to Stay Ahead

By Atalanta Rafferty and Avery Darida

Abstract illustration of groceries.

All it takes is a scroll through TikTok to learn that Gen Z is completely turning the concept of eating on its head. From tips on intuitive eating to the return of the Mediterranean diet, this generation is ditching rigid rules to proclaim that food isn’t just fuel, it’s a personal tool that should evolve with our ever changing needs.

CPG companies must consistently innovate and renovate their products to meet this demand and stay ahead of the competition. The stakes are high, with 85% of new consumer packaged goods (CPGs) failing in the marketplace, according to Nielsen. Add to that concerns over inflation and supply chain management, food ingredients companies are tasked with a lot to support their customers.

As one of the ten largest integrated nutrition, food and beverage PR firms, RF|Binder works alongside our clients to authentically tell their story, nailing down exactly how their ingredients address the current and future needs of food formulators and consumers alike.

Let’s dive into a few of today’s top consumer trends that food brands and ingredient suppliers can lean into to bring better products to market and establish themselves as true disruptors in the industry:

Better-For-You, Better for All

Today’s customers view healthy products well beyond the lens of lower calories and carbs; instead, they know that personal health and the health of the environment are deeply intertwined. Specifically, younger consumers are forging this trend, with terms like “upcycling” and “regenerative agriculture” leading the conversation. In fact, 32% of Gen Z consumers say that sustainability has a major impact on their food and beverage choices.

Reaching this growing group of consumers is key, and brands should address the market’s demand for more accountability head-on to establish themselves as a sustainable option on-shelf. Make sure to clearly articulate how your ingredients drive specific sustainability metrics that matter to consumers.

Go With Your Gut: Food as Medicine 

Functional foods are the future, with customers increasingly demanding that their foods work harder for them. Whether it’s balancing the microbiome, supporting the immune system, or getting a better night’s rest, consumers are focused on the role food plays in their health and well-being. And, they’re willing to put their money where their mouth is, as consumers of all income levels rank health above affordability as the most important factor in new product development.

To stay ahead of the curve, food brands need to consider the unique benefits its product can provide for consumers, leaning into functional foods as a critical consideration on shopping lists.

Back to the Basics: Forecasting for the Future

While better-for-you foods remain top of mind in the market, consumers are returning to the basics of eating. From flexitarian diets to prioritizing plant-based foods, companies must be cognizant of how their products support shoppers’ personalized eating habits. While meatless meats and zero-carb breads have had their time in the spotlight, at the end of the day, shoppers want simple, high-quality ingredients that don’t compromise on flavor.  We’re seeing a rise of well-known ingredients like wheat and oats but with better and enhanced nutritional profiles and the same great taste. Companies really have one opportunity to grab consumers at that first bite.

One thing that will never change is the need for food brands and ingredients companies to stay true to themselves.

In today’s digital and fast-paced world, authenticity is key. It’s not just what you say but also how you show up. From storytelling and social media to branding and visuals, companies must find ways to connect with their audience emotionally, too. Food is more than just survival; it’s one of the most important parts of the human story. It’s the common tie that brings us all together.

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