What if I told you that in 2019 sugary desserts will be on the rise, or 2-pound steaks will dominate restaurant menus, fruits and vegetables will not be part of grocery store offerings. It sounds absurd doesn’t it? Even unbelievable. And, it is, but it’s not that far off from what you could see in 2019 if you believe some of the trend reports we’ve seen.
As 2018 was coming to a close and the multitude of articles espousing food and diet trends that will dominate in 2019 began to appear, we started looking more closely. Each article or person claims to have a deep understanding of what consumers want to eat, drink and enjoy this year. Two claim the next big drink is cheese tea, but the Food PR & Communications team will likely be watching that one from the sidelines.
The thought of cheese tea and some of the other trends mentioned made us think about the difference between a fad and a trend. The dictionary says a trend is “a general development or change in a situation or in the way that people are behaving” while a fad is “an intense and widely shared enthusiasm for something, especially one that is short-lived; a craze.” I have to say I hope cheese tea is a fad while I’m thinking that some aspects of plant-based eating are definitely a trend.
Trends Solve Problems
It’s also important to note that trends help solve a problem. A really good example of a trend occurring right now would be around the intersection of technology, sustainability and traceability issues. Consumers want to know where their food comes from and were frightened in 2018 by the “great romaine scare.” But technology, especially that which traces food accurately, would mean consumers can feel more comfortable eating food from distant sources. Improving traceability using technology solves a problem.
One of the best ways marketers can spot trends is by watching and listening, something we at Food PR & Communications do regularly. To uncover trends, it's important to go places and read sources that are unfamiliar. Talk with individuals you wouldn’t normally talk with. Learn about others. Ask yourself what their habits, practices or desires do to make their lives better. Then connect the dots between the market segment’s wants, needs and current habits and your products to see if there’s a way you can put yourself in the middle of your customers' lives.
Something we noticed when analyzing what some “experts” were calling food trends was that each seemed to be personalized. In fact, there was even a “trend” for personal food plans. (I thought those were called choices.) It seemed to us as though trends were not nearly as global as they used to be. Maybe that, in and of itself, is a trend.
We’re going to add our two cents to the trend discussion with our declarations for 2019:
CBD and Cannabis Products Will Continue to Join the Mainstream
As legalization of marijuana expands to other states, and the benefits of medical marijuana reach further into the mainstream, the number of products available in more places will expand. The products will become popularized at the same time as consumer education and industry regulation expand. Everything from flavored waters to gumdrops, cookies and candies will find their way to store shelves.
Plant-Based Eating Will Grow in a Variety of Ways
We aren’t sure we’ll see a tremendous growth in items such as lab-grown meats and vegetables, but instead more and more people eating fewer foods they believe are damaging to the environment. When restaurateurs are removing the meat from traditional sauces like Bolognese, plant-based eating is definitely here to stay.
Products and Methods That Help Save the Planet Will be Popular
As we write this article, San Diego becomes the largest US city to ban the use of Styrofoam products. Numerous cities, especially along the West Coast, have already banned plastic straws and shopping bags. Restaurant Business magazine reports the number of restaurants trying to find ways around using single-use coffee cups is increasing. Consumers are shopping with their conscience when they can and it seems this trend will become a tidal wave, hopefully in time to slow climate change.
The Ability to Trace Food Origins Will Increase Along with Soaring Demand for Local Food
The 2018 romaine scares seem to have created an urgency around the need to create better methods to trace food origins, if for no other reason than to track the source of a food scare sooner. According to Transparent Path, a company developing a software program to track food paths, there is a very substantial growth in the number of investors interested in these types of companies. The romaine scare was also a catalyst that led to a groundswell of support for buying local foods and supporting local farmers. In the end, consumers want to know where their food comes from, and even to know the person who grows it.
Technology Which Increases Convenience is Critical
Labor shortages are just one of the reasons robots may be making more of our food soon. It’s true that there’s a robot that can make your next salad. And it will be fresh, too! Innovations like this will streamline airport and hospital food preparation faster than we can imagine. But consumers are also looking for technology to help them in other ways, including faster grocery shopping or even avoiding going in the store altogether. Technology has become such an integral part of our lives, we’ll trip over ourselves to find a way to get things done more easily.
Balance and Personalization Dominates in the area of Diet and Health
We read about everything from agave and other sweeteners replacing traditional sugar, to new ways to ferment almost anything, high fat and fiber diets, and fresh foods. While our heads were swimming by the end, we also realized it was a good thing because it seems there’s something for everyone and maybe we’re entering a phase where you get to choose what’s best…for yourself! Eat what you want, when you want it, prepared the way you want it prepared.
Each of these trends has many subsets and could be an article in and of itself. Throughout the year, we’ll examine each further as well as those we learn about through our travels and observations of various aspects of the food industry. We look forward to sharing our insights with you.