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By Vatsal Jain

The food and beverage (F&B) industry went through some tectonic shifts in 2020. Indeed, several industries in all spheres look dramatically different compared to what they did by 2019 end. With so many events that affected us on economic and social levels – a global health crisis among them – a significant change in a few areas is in the cards.

As companies strived to satiate an ever-evolving consumer demand, new trends started to come up – pandemic F&B trends, if you say. They visibly echoed the present state of our society and consumers’ thought process. Now as we steer through 2021, F&B producers must consider these trends that will have a huge impact on their brand value.

Quality Re-imagined

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Consumers are likely to seek approachable upscale food items for special “hometainment” purposes. Brands and retailers are likely to roll out reasonably priced products with environmental or ethical claims.

Also, consumers are expected to raise their expectations for no-contact retail that will expand to incorporate experiential services. In the coming 5 years and beyond, companies and stakeholders that invest in seamless retail and proper access to healthy food and beverages will grab the value at stake.

“With regards to value, pandemic-distressed consumers are looking for a return to what is necessary. Now, they are prioritizing minimal consumption and getting the optimal returns from their purchases.”

As shop-owners lift up the iron curtains, the consumer’s lifestyle will get busier and they will seek hygienic, time-efficient, and adventurous convenience foods, beverages, and food services. Over the next couple of years, companies will also face the challenge to address new definitions of quality and make sure e-commerce is approachable to buyers of all socioeconomic scales.

The focus on getting the best value for consumer’s money will influence companies to be more visible about the product price by providing information about the manufacturing processes, ingredients, and people that consider the price tag.

The Brain-gut Connection

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In 2021 and beyond, food, beverage, and food-service companies are likely to offer moments of relief through product formulations and rituals that promote stress-relief activities. As the sole focus of preventing the COVID-19 infection wanes, consumers will make bolder commitments to decrease the health risks related to unhealthy consumption, increasingly shift toward intuitive and mindful eating, and look for incentives and proof through tech usage.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has influenced consumers to realize the importance of health. Over the years ahead, they will be expecting more services and products that deliver mental and emotional wellbeing benefits.”

Functional formulations and sentimentally engaging multi-sensory products will help food, beverage, and food-service companies grab a bigger pie among a plethora of mental and emotional wellbeing options. It is projected that innovative food and beverage formulations will help consumers know about the impacts of diet on mental and emotional health, leading to new interest in psychology-specific methods of healthy consumption.

Joining Like-minded People

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Through 2021, food, beverage, and food-service brands will influence consumers to leverage their label as a kind of self-expression and a way to reconnect with their pre-crisis personas.

“Social commerce is likely to emerge as a new way for companies to capitalize on establishing communities that will, in turn, offer them actionable insights to return and utilize their popularity, resources, and access to help consumers take steps on critical issues.”

Consumers’ knowledge of the community has been reinforced by the COVID-19 pandemic. Considering the importance of support and connection, they will step into like-minded communities for socialization and solidarity.

Food, beverage, and food-service companies can leverage their reputation as mutual passions and interests to which consumers can tie their personas and proactively bring individual followers together. Hinging on the company (s) they have in common, communities will improve consumers’ social network and pave way for concerted efforts to make a difference.

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