While traveling around the country this past year presenting Eating Patterns in America I had the privilege of seeing first-hand many innovations and successes in the food and foodservice industries. I witnessed menu and product innovations that reengaged existing customers and attracted new ones, and strong brand and business strategies that converted skeptics into believers. All smart and all based on the same guiding principle: give the customer what they want. A Business 101 principle that sometimes gets lost in the craze and stress of every day operations and a principle that won’t change in 2019.
Still keeping the consumer front and center, what can food companies and foodservice distributors and operators expect in 2019:
- Total consumption of foods and beverages will continue to decline slightly on a per capita basis, but population growth will lead to modest increases. This baseline increase is not likely to generate sales growth that exceeds inflation.
- In order to grow above the baseline, food manufacturers, grocers, foodservice distributors and operators must align with emerging changes in consumption patterns, be leaders in creating customer solutions, and be differentiated in product innovation, quality, experience, and execution.
- The food and beverage industry will go digital at an accelerated rate. Marketers who best know how to go to market beyond the physical shelf or dining room will gain an edge in the marketplace.
- Driven by technology and new realities of the workforce, we will continue to consume more meals at home. Finding a role as an in-home solution will be important for growth.
- Center of store and frozen categories will continue to find relevance in the consumer basket, as manufacturers innovate around contemporary food values and emerging flavor trends to provide convenience.
- Pockets of growth will be found across the restaurant landscape as large chains focus on value, and emerging independents find a winning formula with innovation and experience.
- Our tribal approach to health will create growth for brands, retailers, and operators that can target segments of consumers who passionately follow a path to wellness through their food choices.
Along with these thoughts are my best wishes for success in the new year!