So What? October 2016 Edition

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Beverages: Spice It Up

Summary: Thanks for consumers’ increasingly sophisticated palates, spicy, sweet and savory flavors are gaining popularity in the beverage category. Baum + Whiteman’s Hottest Food and Beverage forecast indicates that cocktails, as well as coffees, teas and matcha drinks are spicing it up. In addition, consumers are demanding the beverages be healthier, thus made with “cleaner” ingredients; low calorie too.

So What? Cocktails and soft drinks represent key areas of flavor innovation for restaurants, foodservice operators and packaged-food makers.

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Beverages: Expo East Roundup

Summary: This year’s Natural Products Expo East (Baltimore) showcased a new wave of pant-based waters exploring the potential of natural hydration products. Some examples were the utilization of maple syrup or birch sweetened products validating consumers’ preference for single specialty ingredients similar to when coconut water was first introduced.

So What? The emergence of new brands and types of plant-based waters speaks to the category’s potential for further growth of bottle water.

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Bakery: Trends

Summary: Gluten-free continues to stay on trend, but consumers’ demand for wellness and functional food benefits will begin to impact bakery innovation. One example would be nuts and seeds (health), but given the allergen issues associated with peanut butter, companies are utilizing almond butter and even “pea butter.” In addition, manufacturers are boosting the protein content of their bakery products and down playing their sugar content.

So What? Bakery as a category will continue to exhibit growth in foodservice thanks to snacking and their potential for unique carriers for burgers and sandwiches.

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Soup: Millennials Driving Sales

Summary: Move over canned soup. Ready-to-serve soups in transformative packaging (e.g., aseptic cartons) are gaining popularity thanks to Millennials’ preferences. Their perception is the soup products are less processed. Organic soups are also responsible for the growing popularity. Other Millennial hot buttons according to Mintel research are vegetables, plus soups high in fiber with added vitamins and minerals. Note: Low sodium soups are also very popular.

So What? Is it a meal? Is it a snack? Regardless, soup sales are heating up among Millennials.

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Breakfast: Back to School

Summary: A twitter advanced # search for the past month yielded numerous tweets about breakfasts for kids given it was September: “Back to School” time. Two things stood out: 1.) Numerous recipes about the popularity of healthy breakfast burritos; and 2.) A convenient “Grab & Go” breakfast carts model that is increasing breakfast participation among kids in the Baltimore City Public Schools system.

So What? Incorporate twitter advanced # search into your organization’s innovative process.

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Technology: Predictive Ordering

Summary: New research findings released by the NRA indicated that more than half the operator respondents would add predictive ordering to their operations if available. Loyalty programs ranked second. Costs and service of this ordering technology were considered the main hurdles for early adaption, but operators believe that the current success of this technology in Retail (Amazon – “Recommend for You”) would be a great addition in the next five years.

So What? As consumer eating habits become more situational based on convenience (time and location), predictive ordering will help the foodservice industry utilize data to streamline the supply chain of menu items (food & beverage).

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Consumerism: Food eVangelists’

Summary: At the NAMA conference in September, Ketchum coined the term “Food eVangelist” – individuals that day to day ask challenging questions based on their concerns regarding the food industry. On the whole they have a negative spin on processed food, a loud voice (share their opinions via social media). Areas of concern are labeling (e.g., ingredients), sourcing, production, etc. Their engagement about the food they eat according to Ketchum is four plus times a week.

So What? Consumer segmentation is beginning to take on a whole new level by focusing on individuals’ preferences and attitudes towards the food they eat. It will be important for both manufacturers and operators to monitor eVangelists’ given the power of social media.

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Consumerism: Rebellious Tweens & Teens

Summary: Nudge a tween or teenager about healthier eating behavior and they tend to act the opposite according to new research. One aspect of the study was designed to demonstrate how food manufacturers manipulate consumers to eat junk food for one group. It appeared their behavior was impacted by their existing values regarding food versus trying to manipulate them short-term – eating healthy food versus sugary snacks and drinks.

So What? Our future consumers’ (tweens and teens) appear to already have established their perceptions about eating and do not want to be told what is good or bad. It is best if all future communications be informative, authentic and non-manipulative to this group.

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