What’s new easily led the list of hottest topics in our “State of the Plate” newsletter this past year. And that makes perfect sense when you consider the pace of change in ag and food has never been faster. Here are the high points of our four top-read articles for the year with a few updates to keep us—and you—current.

1. Clean Label

More than ever, public perception drives change in food and ag. That’s why Charleston|Orwig continues to commission independent research to stay on top of consumer perceptions that have an impact on these key industries. We struck a chord with this one. Here are some key findings:

  • Americans are divided. Some 41% say they make purchases based on clean labels while almost half say they are unaware of this trend.
  • Purchase drivers for clean label? Health. “Clean” equates to healthier in the minds of purchasers.
  • While those 35-and-under make up half of consumers who seek out clean labels, almost half of those 65-and-older say they intend to purchase more foods with clean label claims.

For a more detailed report on our findings, click the link above or watch our Five in 15 webinar on clean label research here.

2. Three critical trends to watch in food and ag

Happily, our post predicting hot topics in 2019 was pretty much right on target. The order was slightly off, so we’ll fix that here.

  • Plant-based—burgers, nuggets, crumbles … plant-based protein is all over the food landscape. That goes for the U.S. along with developed and developing nations. This does not point to the demise of meat. Meat consumption will continue to grow as population increases and nations develop. Plant-based, driven by the flexitarian eater (not vegan or vegetarian), is here to stay.
  • Lab-grown—for all the hype (and it is relentless), there is still no product to purchase. Scaling, production and legal approvals are on the way, but may be overcome shortly. Asia seems most interested in accepting a launch.
  • (Of note, “cellular agriculture”, the industry’s chosen term, scored with minimal awareness in another C|O study.)
  • Functional foods—whether to make one more alert, sleep better or recover faster from a workout, people want to eat what helps make them tick better. Look for more claims in this realm for 2020.

3. Brand workshop—steal these ideas for a killer meeting

Perhaps more than ever, the idea of branding and having a strong brand stand out as important. A strong brand is the single best way to cut through the relentless stream of product introductions and promotional messages.

Pixar pitch. The Golden Circle. Your brand as a song or musical instrument. How about a guaranteed ice breaker? Click the link above for great ideas on how to hold a successful workshop to refine or update your brand. Of course, you can also contact us for more info: mark.g@co-nxt.com.

4. Cellular, synthetic, lab-grown: the rise of new food and alternative ag

Vegan dairy? Synthetic whiskey? How about protein cultured from the air with electricity, which is something new since we published our article in September?

We thought this category was so interesting with so much potential for impact that we commissioned a research study on it. Among the findings:

  • Americans are skeptical about these new food options: 40% find them flat-out scary.
  • Those between the ages of 18 to 24 are far more likely to try synthetic or lab-grown food than Americans 65 and older.
  • Regardless of age, long-term health impacts top the list of worries.
  • While 44% say these new foods do not have a place in our food system, 22% say they probably or definitely do and another 34% say maybe.

C|O Insight

Whether you grow soybeans, produce eggs, run a restaurant or make energy bars, technology is driving our food system forward at a very fast pace. Certainly, some of today’s darlings will fade while things we have not even heard of will quickly grow to dominate categories.

Our team of subject matter experts focuses on food and agriculture—farm field to processing to entrée on a plate. We can help you build a new brand, protect an old one or target customers to foster sales. Let’s talk when the time is right to handle your next strategic marketing and communications challenge: Mark Gale, mark.g@co-nxt.com.