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Mid-Year Food & Beverage Trend Report: A “C” of Change

Food and beverage marketing is a world of frequent disruption with shifting retail landscapes and changes in consumer preferences fluctuating on a constant basis. Add to that the speed in which the competitive landscape changes –would you believe that more than 20,000 new food and beverage products launch each year? That equates to more than two new products introduced every hour!

To us, this is a truly electrifying statistic and we devour every opportunity to spend time in store aisles or on tradeshow floors taking in these food and beverage releases. We love to hear from an entrepreneur how their latest idea was born. We read, touch and feel each package to experience how it will be perceived by consumers. And, most importantly, we try, taste and sip as many samples as we can muster.

So, how do these thousands of products possibly begin to stand out in the crowd? Much like the fashion industry has its weeks and professional sports hosts its drafts, those in the CPG, food and beverage space build their year around critical events. In the same way designers and athletes hope to make it big with retailers or teams, food and beverage brands aim to be “drafted” by those who will take their new product to the next level. And, we’re fortunate to be there to see a lot of this magic happen.

This year, we’re on the ground at key industry events including Natural Products Expo West, the Craft Brewers Conference and the Specialty Food Association’s Fancy Food Show. Often, we’re on double-duty supporting clients with launches while ingesting the latest trends in our free moments.

10 Food and Beverage Trend Observations for 2019

It’s quite coincidental, but the tradeshows this year are jam-packed with ingredients and product concepts that begin with the letter “C.” Some of the ingredients have been around for a while, but what’s evolving is how they’re being used in unexpected ways, helping to prolong their relevancy and longevity.

  1. Cold-Pressed Juice – This phrase describes the way the juice is slowly extracted from fruits and vegetables. The idea is that it captures more fiber and nutrients from the produce. It’s certainly one of many buzzwords floating around and one way to grab the attention of trend-focused buyers. Cold-pressed juice is typically found in fancy juice bars or bottles and popular for equally on-trend cleanses.
  2. Coconut – While it’s not new, coconut is now more mainstream and used for everything from cooking oil to drinking water and spirits, snacks, yogurt, ice cream and beauty products. In fact, some brands leverage coconut as a lifestyle and means to escape from the everyday. It’s clearly showing no signs of slowdown.
  3. Cold-Brew – Yes, this coffee brewing method has hit its stride. Beyond selling cold-brew coffee from high-end shops, several brands are playing up the fact their product contains cold-brew coffee as an infusion or ingredient.
  4. Cauliflower – It’s tough to wander any aisles these days without this “C” gazing back at you from a label. Lambert client Green Giant Fresh is a pioneer in the crumbled cauliflower movement and uses the ingredient as a base for its line of veggie meal bowls. This also points to another trend – giving purpose to “ugly” produce that’s rich in nutrients.
  5. CBD – If it feels like all you’re hearing about lately is CBD, you’re spot on. This ingredient was the absolute star of the shows we attended this year. What’s fascinating is that CBD knows no bounds; it’s included in just about every type of consumer product you can imagine, much like coconut. However, the FDA is still navigating ways to regulate this booming industry, so we’ll be curious to watch as this unfolds.
  6. Collagen Peptides – One of the newer favorites, collagen peptides are a powdery supplement believed to deliver skin and joint benefits. Scroll Instagram and you’ll probably find a few influencers sharing about how they add a scoop to their morning coffee or smoothie.
  7. Choices – Not an ingredient, but we observed that many brands emphasized the role of consumer choice in maintaining a healthy lifestyle. When you think about the way “choice” is used in food and beverage marketing, it not-so subtly guides people to reach for the respective product to increase the perception they’re making the right choice.
  8. Clutter-Free – In this age of transparency, shoppers are seeking clarity with ingredients. Today, less is more and people expect to be able to find only essential, pronounceable and natural ingredients on a label without fillers or processed elements.
  9. Celebrities – Jessica Alba, Guy Fieri, Jennifer Garner and Gwyneth Paltrow are among the stars behind products and lifestyle brands exhibiting this year. The food and beverage industry is big business and the endorsement or financial backing of a Hollywood personality can help catapult a brand into overnight success.
  10. Cookie Dough – Cookie dough shops are beginning to pop up, offering scoops of safe, edible dough in a variety of tasty flavors. Brands are also meeting consumer demand for this formerly hands-off treat. Lambert client, Bubbies, unveiled a line of new Cookie Dough Ice Cream Bites at Expo West. They include a hearty serving of flavored doughs wrapped around premium ice cream.

The advice and recommendations of health experts, influencers, media coverage and marketing all play a role in shaping trends. Interestingly, data shows that the outcome of new food and beverage products in the marketplace is determined by around the two-year point.

We’re PR counselors, but we also serve clients as strategic business consultants. Lambert has helped build new and challenger brands from the ground-up, advising on package design, competitive positioning and digital presence. With a combined 30+ years of experience in the food and beverage arena and client relationships that have spanned more than 15 years, we pride ourselves on shaping and telling brand stories built for the long haul.

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