Consumer trends, new technology and legislation are all factors affecting how food is produced, marketed and enjoyed. Staying ahead of these trends is vital to keeping your brand relevant in an ever-changing marketplace. Here’s our shortlist of what to watch in 2018.

Food Labels

The issue: There is chatter on this topic right now, pending legislation on food labels.

Watch for national consumer research from C|O in our next newsletter.

Points to know:

  • Consumers are putting an emphasis on food traceability and want brands to be more transparent about ingredients.
  • Some companies are being accused of taking advantage of consumers by printing incomplete or misleading labels, such as claiming “GMO-free” when the product doesn’t contain any ingredients that would typically be genetically modified anyway. For example, “GMO-free” bottled water is technically true, but deceptive.
  • Food labeling regulations vary from nation to nation. The U.S. has been accused by some of being too lenient when it comes to labeling laws.

Alternative Proteins

The issue: Protein demand is on the rise, but more and more people are finding it from sources other than meat.

Points to know:

  • Plant-based dining is on the rise.
  • Emerging diet trends like flexitarian, vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free are impacting consumer demand.
  • Pea protein is increasingly seen in “workout” shakes for the gym. It’s what you would imagine—protein extracted from peas, rich in amino acids.
  • Alternative protein options are expanding beyond the often-seen “black bean burger” on restaurant menus.

Food as Self-care

The issue: Food is becoming more commonly recognized as a form of self-care. Natural Foods/Authentic Wellness are on the rise.

Points to know:

  • Many diets and lifestyles (gluten-free, sugar-free, paleo, etc.) eliminate certain ingredients as a permanent way of life, not just a trend.
  • Clean labels and labels with fewer ingredients are often perceived as more natural and healthier options.
  • Locally sourced foods are seen as being more authentic and natural.
  • Many consumers are also adding supplements/enhancements to foods, making them even more nutritional with a greater impact on their mood and energy levels.
    • Caffeine has long been a food “supplement” to enhance mental performance.
    • Recent trends show the emergence of new supplements that enhance sleep quality, energy and mental activity.

Lab-Grown Food

The issue: Food grown in labs is gaining traction, seen by many as more environmentally friendly. The focus is primarily on meat at the moment, but lab-grown food could expand to other sectors as well.

Points to know:

  • The emphasis is on preserving the environment, but animal rights advocates are also behind the new technology.
  • For many, however, meat grown in a lab may prove to be unpalatable.
  • Those who are pro-local and pro-natural are in lab-meat’s corner because of its forecasted more sustainable production.
  • As our world population trends toward 10 billion, protein of all origins will be needed. How lab-grown food will work with farmers to meet demand will be a growing issue.

Traditional Cooking Makes a Comeback

The issue: As fast food’s reputation continues to take a nosedive among millennials and Gen-Zers, we are seeing a return to more traditional cooking.

Points to know:

  • Slow food, a movement that emphasizes naturally cooked, healthier food, has been a growing trend that is gaining even more steam.
  • There is a continued interest and focus on indigenous American cuisine.
  • Gen-Zers started eating healthier earlier on than other generations.
  • Younger generations want higher-quality, fresher options, and they want them at a more affordable price.
  • Traditional ingredients and preparation techniques will be presented as “authentic” cooking options, and are easy to access with social media and social pages dedicated to “foodies.”
  • Instant Pot/One Dish Style: a huge consumer trend for quick, whole meal preparation.
    • Consumers are cooking with more foods and making more complex meals.
    • Many of these meals combine all ingredients into one dish.
    • The trend may begin to impact the types of meals you see on restaurant menus.
  • Going out to eat is not on its way out. In fact, millennials go out to eat more than Gen Z, and both go out more than boomers. But their dining choices are more focused on health than price.
Published On: January 25th, 2018Categories: Campaigns and Communication

C.O.nxt Insight.

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: Marcy Tessmann,


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