When we released the Nourish Network 2022 Trend Report at the end of October 2021, as the fourth wave of COVID seemed to wane, we thought we were emerging from a shared global crisis. Fast forward to today, and now we’re onto another one with the war in Ukraine, plus we’re facing food inflation at levels not seen in decades. Oh yes, and we’re now coming out of a sixth wave of the pandemic.
Not to be all doom & gloom, but climate change continues to grow in importance, too, especially among younger generations. As revealed in a recent Pew Research Center study, those between the ages of 18–44 are up to twice as likely to consider the environmental impact of food choices.
What, if any, impact have these factors had on our eight consumer trends? Let’s take a quick look at each to see how they’re progressing.
Aging Demographics Refuse to Fffff-ade Away
In our Talkin’ ‘Bout My Generation: Boomers & Seniors Are Coming On Strong trend, we highlighted how there was considerable new product white space for products that support healthy aging — focusing on wellness rather than life span. Interest in healthy aging increased by 84% from Jan 2016 to Jan 2022 and 24% in the last 12 months to Jan 2022.
The UK’s first superfood brand, SuperAge, targeting people over 50, has launched. They use Boomer brand ambassadors on a mission to help Boomers achieve their bucket list goals with powerful nutrition.
Looking at Let’s Make This Clear: Using Purpose Transparency to Gain Consumer Trust, we’ve seen GreenChoice move from a mobile app that helps you make purchase decisions based on your values to an online marketplace where users can shop from big US retailers like Walmart, Target, and Walgreens and filter their choices by over 90 food preferences or values.
Under Plant-Based 3.0: A Divide Between Better For You, Better For the Planet, Real Food, and Science, we’ve seen activity at both ends of the spectrum and entries into other categories besides meat and dairy. For example, Beyond Meat launched a shelf-stable Jerky snack product in the US. And we saw a lot more seaweed snacks at SIAL in April 2022 to match rising consumer interest.
Worldwide Interest over time (2/2/06 - 2/28/21)
Source: Google Trends
Algae milk launched in Singapore and, unlike the infinite gallons of water required for almond milk, the microalgae fermentation tanks require minimal amounts of H2O and utilize food waste by-products as production fuel. The world's biggest food companies, like Tyson and Unilever, are already investing in this area, with investment up 36% in 2021.
At SIAL, we saw Tempehine, an excellent example of a less processed plant-based protein product that is pre-cooked and pre-portioned for added taste and convenience.
The Tech Takeover of Grocery & Foodservice Continues
Turning to Remapping the Paths to Purchase: An Updated Shopper Journey for Post-COVID Grocery Behaviours, Snapchat added an AI-powered food scanning and recognition feature allowing its users to scan food items and get recipe suggestions and other information about the food. Early reports suggest mixed results, but the day may come when this type of barrier-removing tech streamlines mealtime decisions and integrates brands.
Similarly, our Blurring the Lines: Foodservice Models Get Increasingly Hybridized trend sees Amazon launching a “What to Eat” feature on Alexa, giving users recommendations for restaurants, prepared items, recipes (with ingredient ordering thru Whole Foods), and meal kits. It also customizes those recommendations based on dietary preferences.
There's been lots of activity under the Cultivating Your Inner Garden: Eating for Gut Health Goes Mainstream trend. Babybel Plus+ Probiotic launched in the US and claims to be the first functional dairy snack. (And you still get the signature wax covering to fidget with!) In the beverage category, premium RTD sparkling drink Olipop supports digestive health. Unilever's recent research partnership with Holobiome (which has one of the largest human microbiome collections globally) will study how specific food ingredients interact with critical gut bacteria to develop new food & drink products that are healthier for our gut-brain axis.
We can confidently report our Save & Splurge: The High-Low Fashion Trend Comes to Food trend is more accurate than ever with the rising inflation rate. We’re already seeing changes in shopper behaviour, with 40% of shoppers going to a discount grocery banner at least once/wk, up from 37% a year ago. And 24% are shopping at dollar stores at least once a week for groceries, up from 20% a year ago. (Source: Canada 2022 Grocery IQ Study of >1,000 shoppers.) It will be essential to educate consumers on why and remind them that their food dollar is still going further than 20 years ago.
Bringing Our Update to a Tail-wagging Close
Remember our bonus pet trend, What’s Good for Me is Good for Fido? Nestle’s Purina brand recently launched ONE Dog Food for the Microbiome with Microbiome Balance™. And Wild Earth’s meat-free chickpea-based superfood dog food is now available at Walmart US for the enviro-conscious canine.
What will the remainder of 2022 bring to our trends? Only time will tell, but we’ll continue to track and monitor them every step of the way. And perhaps their future forms will factor into our 2023 Report. Hold on to your hats, friends — it’s looking to be another dynamic year!
If you have any questions about anything in this article or our Nourish Network 2022 Trend Report, please contact Jo-Ann McArthur.