Report: Four Trends Will Disrupt the Food Industry in 2019

food trends

ROCKVILLE, Md. — When it comes to the year ahead, market research firm Packaged Facts predicts "disruptive innovation" will shake up years of subtle stagnation and grow in the foreseeable future.

In U.S. Food Market Outlook 2019, Packaged Facts examines "disruptive innovation" across 14 essential food categories: cereal, chocolate candy, cookies, fresh bread, fresh packaged salads, frozen dinners/entrees, frozen pizza, ice cream/frozen novelties, meal/snack bars, meat/poultry, natural & specialty cheese, salty snacks, soup and yogurt.

Four top trends Packaged Facts identified are:

1. Local: the Next-Gen Organic

Local has become the evolving trend of organic. Locally grown produce and packaged salads are fresher and have longer shelf life because they don't have to travel far to get into stores, according to the market research firm, adding that local is inherently safer because it is grown indoors.

In addition to being grown indoors, local produce is being farmed hydroponically, making it more sustainable. Several start-ups are innovating and disrupting in locally grown produce, like BrightFarms, who sells packaged lettuce and other salad greens to major grocery retailers in the U.S.

2. Innovation Driven by Greater Authenticity

Consumers are looking for at-home food products that deliver "restaurant quality" and "chef-inspired" meals. Increasingly, millennials and other younger people want greater authenticity that comes from involvement with real chefs who seem to be cooking the meals in a kitchen, rather than in a big industrial food processing plant.

Marketers of frozen dinners and entrees are among those leading the way in this trend. For example:

  • Grainful, part of Chobani's Food Incubator program, makes whole grain-based frozen entrees with a blend of whole oats, quinoa and sorghum, vegetables, proteins, and sauces.
  • Frontera Foods, owned by ConAgra, markets a range of frozen Mexican-inspired bowls and skillet meals created by renowned chef Rick Bayless, who specializes in Mexican cuisine.
  • Frozen Foodies brings actual restaurant meals into the home with frozen meals made in partnership with famous Chicago chefs. The dishes are developed from real menu items, cooked in a central location and then cryogenically frozen to preserve taste and texture.

3. New Players Shaking up the Status Quo

Traditionally, major food players take the majority of the steps to innovate the industry, but in certain segments new players are the ones breaking new ground. For instance, better-for-you ice cream brand Halo Top launched in 2012 and has hit the trifecta of attributes, as a growing number of consumers crave all things protein, prefer reducing calories over dieting, and think sugar is evil, according to Packaged Facts.

In response to the competition, numerous major and minor companies have jumped on board with their own versions:

  • Unilever began to offer this type of ice cream under its Ben & Jerry's and Breyers brands, and most recently launched a new brand, Culture Republick to differentiate in the space, which delivers on protein, calories and sugar with an added bonus of probiotics.
  • Coolhaus is a superpremium brand that bills itself as "Awesome Ice Cream" known for unique, sweet/savory flavors like Balsamic Fig & Mascarpone, Milkshake & Fries, and Street Cart Churro Dough. The company markets more than 30 SKU's including pints, sandwiches and bars. This spring, it will launch a line of 13 vegan ice cream products made from peas, brown rice, and cocoa butter.

4. Gut Health Focused

As consumers increasingly focus on digestive issues and increasing gut health, they have gravitated toward fermented and probiotic-rich foods and beverages like yogurt, Kefir, kombucha and kimchi.

While cereal is not in this realm, cereal makers have joined some in other food categories that are incorporating probiotics and other gut-healthy ingredients into new products:

  • Kellogg's recent HI! Happy Inside cereal promotes digestive wellness with prebiotics, probiotics and fiber. The cereal contains 1 billion live probiotics from active strains, 2.5 grams of prebiotics and 8 to 9 grams of fiber. Available in three flavors, HI! Happy Inside cereal is a blend of fruit, yogurt pieces and 100 percent whole grains.
  • thinkThin's new line of protein and probiotic hot oatmeal promotes overall wellness and digestion with 6 grams of fiber, 10 grams of protein and 1 billion CFUs of live probiotics. The oatmeals are Non-GMO Project verified, gluten-free, and have no artificial flavors or sweeteners.