Mary Ellen Kuhn

Mary Ellen Kuhn

After an extended period of economic uncertainty and market volatility, consumers are thinking carefully about their food and beverage choices, says Lu Ann Williams, global insights director, Innova Market Insights.

Just what are food and beverage shoppers willing to compromise on? And where won’t they compromise? Those questions are at the heart of “Redefining Value,” which is Trend No. 1 in Innova’s annual compilation of the year’s top food and beverage trends. The defining trends of 2023 are highlighted at the Innova Market Insights Taste the Trend Food Expo booth (SII75)—both in a visual display and in daily presentations by Innova experts.

“Each food choice involves a delicate balance of cost savings, health, sustainability, and indulgence, influenced by culture and personal factors,” Williams observes. “Consumers continue to prioritize health and are willing to invest in products that fit their well-being goals, valuing freshness, functionality, and naturalness above all.

“Consumers are seeking to control health and ethical priorities, looking for quality choices at varying prices and value-added benefits aligned with their personal beliefs,” Williams continues. “In times of stress and anxiety around the world, consumers seek new coping strategies, prioritizing personal health and mindful forms of release.”

In fact, “Affordable Nutrition” is No. 2 on Innova’s trends list. When Innova surveyed consumers around the globe in 2022 about the factors that should drive food and beverage product development, health came in first on the list, cited by 41% of respondents, followed by affordability, which was noted by 30%.

“Low- and middle-income countries spend more than $1.5 trillion purchasing food every year,” Williams points out. “This is a more or less untapped market for affordable nutrition. However, in our current situation, the total addressable market for affordable and nutritious products is much larger.”

She notes that inflation has had a detrimental impact on consumers in higher-income countries as well. “Consumers prioritize health, but it has to be affordable, nutritious, and taste good,” Williams summarizes.

“In the face of financial pressures, innovators can seize the opportunity by promoting the positive features of low-cost products, such as health, nutritional value, and even waste reduction,” says Williams. “Novel technologies can be game-changers in the industry by enabling production of next-generation healthy ingredients and cost-effective products.”

The following round out the list of the year’s top trends.

3. “Generational Push.” Positive engagement and new experiences find favor with younger consumers used to sharing their views widely and willingly.

4. “Plant-Based: Unlocking a New Narrative.” Underused ingredients and technology-enabled new formats open up wider spaces for standalone plant-based innovation.

5. “Farming the Future.” New farming systems are improving quality and sustainability, leading to renewed consumer interest in food sources.

6. “Quick Quality.” Culinary creativity blossomed during the pandemic and now needs to come with added convenience to meet busier routines.

7. “Devouring Digital.” Brands are starting to embrace the full potential of consumer connections by enhancing real life with digital experiences.

8. “Revenge Spending.” Small pleasures have a heightened effect as luxury spending comes under pressure, offering opportunities to enhance brand perception.

9. “Unpuzzle Health.” Simple communication backed by trusted certification reinforces health messages, especially when matched by consumer experience.

10. “Positively Imperfect.” Openness about the complexity of sustainability is appreciated by consumers who do not expect brands to be 100% perfect.

Williams and other Innova Market Insights experts will offer daily presentations on the following schedule:

  • 10:30 a.m. “Palate Predictions: Unveiling the Hottest Flavor Trends”
  • 11:30 a.m. “Top 10 Trends in Food & Beverage 2023”
  • 12:30 p.m. “Consumer Attitudes Driving Nutrition Innovation”
  • 1:30 p.m. “Nourishing Wellness: Unlocking The Power Of Healthy Diets” 2:30 p.m. “Shaking Up Sugar Strategies”
  • 3:30 p.m. “Generational Perspectives: Unraveling Consumer Motivations”

About the Author

Mary Ellen Kuhn is executive editor of Food Technology magazine ([email protected]).
Mary Ellen Kuhn

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