What Are the Food Trends for 2020?

Piece by Florian Nock

Every new year, like clockwork, food companies, experts, and associations try to predict what the food trends for the year to come will be. These predictions are based on their expertise, consumer behaviors and global market trends. So what are the food trends for 2020 and beyond? We analyzed several reports from companies and associations to give you a broader perspective on what consumers expect and how companies could answer those expectations.

Healthy and Natural Plant-Based Food Products

The market for plant-based protein alternatives has grown a lot in recent years. With a 20% increase in sales between 2018 and 2019 in plant-based products in the US, many believe that this trend is here to stay and that it forms a global shift in consumer behaviors.

As plant-based burgers and patties are now available as a convenient food in supermarkets and restaurants across many countries worldwide, some consumers demand that these products have a shortlist of ingredients and come less processed.

We can expect companies to turn toward vegetables, fruits, grains and seeds to create innovative, less processed and tasty food products.

Sustainability Is Expected Across the Whole Food Chain

The fact that agriculture has a significant impact on the environment is now well documented. What we eat shapes our bodies and the world we live in. With a more holistic approach toward sustainability, consumers now expect those food companies to be actors of change. Consumers become more and more demanding regarding this aspect, which is a good sign for the planet. It leads to having to take sustainability into account across the whole supply chain.

From sourcing sustainable products, certified processes to compostable packaging, taking care of the environment doesn’t seem to be an option anymore for food companies looking to thrive.

Transparency and Traceability Are Mandatory for Trust

To create and produce natural, healthy and sustainable food products that consumers will love, companies need to build trust.

With a growing prevalence of food allergies and foodborne illnesses, consumers expect companies to be more transparent regarding the products they use, where they come from, how they are made and who made them.

To answer those needs and questions, building a more transparent supply chain is necessary. From raw material to the product on the shelves, consumers want to know what happened between those steps.

Food Is Pleasure: Taste, Fun and Convenience

While people want healthy and sustainable food products, it doesn’t mean that they will compromise on the taste or the eating experience as a whole.

Food companies are now an integral part of consumers’ lives. Meanwhile, people want food that makes them feel good and happy about their choices, but it needs to be delicious and convenient.

For some consumers, the environmental and health aspects of food are only secondary and those hedonistic consumers will consider those aspects only, if it tastes good.

We are not only nourished by nutrients, but also by stories. To appeal to consumers, brands must build stories that are worthy of being shared, whether with friends or on social media. As we all talk, share and take pictures of what we love, food businesses and brands need to work on their packaging and build a compelling story.

With all those aspects taken into consideration, we still only have 24 hours in a day. In our busy lives today, we spend less time preparing food and eating at home. We can therefore expect a growing demand for delivery companies and pre-packaged foods.

The Food Trends for 2020 and Beyond: A More Holistic Approach to Food

In her 2006 book, “A history of food fear” French sociologist and writer Madeleine Ferrieres described food preferences and choices across countries. They could be defined according to 4 aspects: the “4 S”. While in countries such as France and Italy, “Saveur” (taste) and “Social” were more important; in the US and Germany, “Santé” (health) and “Sécurité” (safety) were considered more important.

In today’s globalized world, as those 4 “S” are important for every consumer, we can add a 5th one: “Sustainability” - it’s not only important for consumers’ well-being, but also for our planet and the generations to come.

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