The FoodMinds monitoring committee put together a trends report from the third trimester of the year. There were five prominent trends that they noticed, as well as some trending words that showed up a lot throughout different platforms. Read our trend report below.
Trend 1: Food Safety is a Growing Concern for Industry and Consumers
Food safety issues are impacting food manufacturers, retailers and consumers due to the occurrence of food recalls. Industry is responding with increased transparency and preventative measures.
- Food recalls are showing up in all areas of the industry including snack foods, produce and fast-service restaurants.
- Retailers, such as Walmart, are taking a stance on food safety by implementing outbreak prevention plans to help stop the spread of E.coli and similar contaminations.
- The current administration is proposing to move food safety oversight out of the U. S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) in an effort to centralize the agencyresponsible for overseeing food safety regulation.
Bottom line: As food recalls and food safety issues continue to appear in the media, industry and government are moving faster to ease consumers concerns. Industries seem to be stepping up internal efforts to address food safety concerns before they are regulated to increase transparency in the food system.
Trend 2: Technology is Driving Innovation in the Food Industry
Tech innovations are driving the personalized nutrition trend and large food companies are partnering with smaller start-up firms.
- Companies like Nutrigenomix offer genetic testing to deliver personalized nutrition recommendations while Nestlé is combining artificial intelligence and DNA testing to tailor nutrition plans for Japanese customers.
- PepsiCo started new initiatives to foster growth within their brands. The Hive is an entrepreneurial group that fosters the growth of smaller, niche, “new age” brands while The Nutrition Greenhouse accelerator seeks sustainably-minded start-ups.
- Other brands like Chobani, Kraft Heinz, Land O’ Lakes, and Tyson Foods have been utilizing accelerators and incubators to research and develop new products to keep customers interested in their brands.
Bottom line: Companies large and small are forming mutually beneficial relationships driven by technology to provide more customized and innovative products and services for consumers.
Trend 3: Uncertainty Still Surrounds Bioengineered Foods and Lab Grown Meat
Bioengineered foods remain a hot topic as industry and government agencies seek to regulate and define GMOs and plant-based meats amidst growing consumer concern.
- The debate over GMO labeling continues as industry and farmers offer input and the S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) missed the GMO labeling deadline at the end of July. USDA hopes to have a final rule by December.
- Surveyed consumers are willing to consider consuming lab grown meat as long as it’s labeled. Meanwhile, the FDA and USDA have set a joint meeting in October to discuss oversight considerations and labeling of these types of products.
- The number of consumers concerned about and avoiding GMOs has tripled since 2007 reflecting a growing desire to eat food closer to its natural form.
Bottom line: Currently, there are more questions than answers surrounding bioengineered foods and lab grown meat as consumers, industry and government continue to weigh in on the issue
Trend 4: Sustainability and Nutrition Converge for Greater Impact
Sustainability across food supply chains continues to differentiate food and farm businesses, as many consumers are increasingly interested about these commitments from the private sector and new research identifies a pressing need to adapt to environmental concerns.
- A recent partnership between Danish food manufacturers, retailers and NGOs aims to cut food waste in half by 2030.
- Improved sourcing practices, including in the cocoa industry, address both environmental and social measures of sustainability, while some palm oil suppliersrequire advances to their deforestation and labor practices.
- As sales of plant-based foods rise, companies are expanding their portfolios by acquiring plant-based brands.
- There are growing commitments from farmers and the animal and dairy industries to improve sustainability over time.
- The recent IPCC report on global climate change presents a strong message and a necessary call to action from all sectors. The same week, a study released in Naturepresents a suite of measures to sustainably feed 10 billion by 2050.
Bottom line: Sustainable food systems continue to be a part of the conversation and actions at a local, regional and global scale, with the public and private spheres both playing important roles.
Trend 5: The Political Roundup: Progress in Advancing Nutrition Policies while Farm Bill Continues to Stall
- USDA and U. S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) are moving ahead with the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA) process and finalizing the topics they’ll focus their research on next year. The call for nominations to the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (DGAC) closed in early October. We’ll see the appointments to the DGAC by January with public meetings starting soon thereafter.
- FDA held a meeting in July on its new Nutrition Innovation Strategy, including a public comment period to receive input on the strategy elements. These areas include modernizing ingredient labels and nutrient claims (including a potential on-pack symbol for “Healthy”), conducting a labeling education campaign, and updating FDA’s approach to standards of identity.
- FDA has requested public input on the labeling of plant-based products that use terms such as “milk” and “yogurt,” opening up the possibility for updates to federal labeling requirements.
- The 2018 Farm Bill expired at the end of September and Congress’ path to funding many of the key food and farm programs within the bill is still unclear. Changes to SNAP continue to be at the heart of the contention between legislators.
Bottom line: Nutrition policy efforts continue to rapidly evolve, with a focus on encouraging the industry to innovate healthier products and empowering consumers to make better and more informed decisions about their diets and health. Industry involvement in these efforts remains prominent.
What’s the Word?
“In the year 2040, a lot will have changed in my life. I’ll be just shy of my 60th birthday… and based on the IPCC’s alarming report, our world could look very different too. If significantly accelerated action isn’t taken by all sectors of society – including the agriculture and food sectors – we could face catastrophic consequences. Food and sustainability are inseparable from one another; achieving “Zero Hunger” is reliant on building healthy, sustainable and thriving food systems. The IPCC report is a timely and powerful call to action. The time to act is now, and I’m optimistic about the innovative efforts being led by the agriculture and food sectors to mitigate climate change and food insecurity.” – Elizabeth Stoltz