When you have a hammer, everything looks like a nail. That’s why, as someone who has been researching the food & beverage (F&B) industry since early 2000’s, I make sure that I doubt my own view of the world as often as possible, not attempting to announce every shiny object as “the next trend”.
I started researching the F&B industry when I was a Law student in 2000, just as “Health and Wellness” became THE most important mega-trend in the industry. Since then , our company have been monitoring the F&B industry daily- making sure to notice shifts and soon to be disruptions in the market. I watched diet and wellness trends come and go, shifting from “what” to “what not” to “how much” to “which ones”. in the 2000’s, it was the decade of carbs – remember Atkins, the Zone, and the South Beach diet to name a few – and even though these diets, like any diet, where not practiced by every one, they certainly made many people in the Western world “aware” of carbs, that were not really considered as a threat until then, but becoming one of the top items to check for as a consequence.
In 2013, I wrote about two allegedly conflicting trends – Paleo and Veganism – stating that both stem from the same consumer desire: “Real Food” (a desire that also manifested in the rise of brands such as Chobani, stating that it is “Real”). 3 years later, these lifestyles have developed in alignment with the growth of Tribes, into actual movements which again ask what, what not, how much and which ones. These questions, in turn, have an effect on today’s most prominent macro nutrients – protein and sugar, and the future of those is discussed in practically any food forum today.
A Healthy Future
These days, our company is working on a new report on The Future of Health and Wellness – food, beverage & beyond. Some of the trends we’ve recognized, and cover, include Gut Health and The New Free From. These trends stem from both technological advancements and the coverage of which (for example, research in Microbiome / Microbiota, or alternative processing for fruit, vegetable and protein which allows “pressed” bars that rely on “inherently good” ingredients). These trends are not disruptive, rather they are a natural development of the “Real Food” movement and the aforementioned “food tribes”.
And so, the Schieber Research and Volley Team (our analysts in 12 markets, who gather field intelligence), have been examining several assumptions – some of which are contrasting – in order to understand what is really going on in the mainstream health and wellness agenda, as to not fall into the “hammer holding, nail finder” bias. For example, the Barnes and Noble “Cookbooks” shelves in New Jersey, presenting vegan, vegetarian, “Paleo”, “Whole 30” and gut friendly cooking – all stemming from the search for real food:
Or, these retail displays in a German supermarket:
But it was the moment I left for an international business trip, that I had actually realized just how quickly these trends, still considered “niche” by some of my clients, have entered the mainstream. The aisles (operated, in large, by self-checkout kiosks) are filled with Better For You options, the kind you were once only able to find in outlets such as Whole Foods and other specialty channels – certainly not airports, where busy, sometimes upset, passengers, look for a quick fix of coffee and chocolate.
Instead of merely a KitKat bar and a bottle of Diet Coke, this is what you’ll find at the Newark Airport:
(Don’t worry, they do have coffee and biscuits. The premium kind: a Starbucks and the new favourite, Michel & Augustine, imported by Starbucks to its US stores and then purchased in part by Danone)
The New Mainstream
As you can see, catering to today’s busy, on-the-go consumer, means reducing stress instead of increasing it with unhealthy and guilt-inducing offering. With the microbiome conversation (gut-mind connection) expected to rise, and smaller, as well as big but innovative competitors, already stepping up to the part – tomorrow’s supermarkets and brands should understand this new H&W mainstream arena. This is not a shiny nail for the trend researcher: this is the very near future your brands and stores are facing, and as always, consumer focus is the key to winning in this reality.
To receive The Future of Health and Wellness – food, beverage & beyond report at an Early Bird special price contact us today.