Global Practices

Food and Beverage Trends in a Transformative Time



This blog post originally appeared in Institute of Food Technologist’s (IFT) Wellness Newsletter.

In partnership with our global network, we’ve identified the food and beverage trends that define the industry today. After months of crunching data, observing the marketplace, gathering insights and collaborating with Mintel, we released Edelman’s “16 Global Food & Beverage Trends for 2016.”

Though each trend stands on its own, together they underscore an industry in the midst of unprecedented change. Here are a few key observations:

Convergence. It’s clear that the issues driving much of the discussion bring together nutrition and public health, culinary diversity and legacy, business and economics, the environment and population shifts, and values and politics. The new recipe for success requires the industry to be part of the solution, opening their doors and inviting all stakeholders in for collaborative engagement.

Food-Tech Connect. Food technology is used to solve everything from global supply chain issues, like crop protection, water use and foodborne illness traceability, to more personal ones, like delivery-on-demand and meal-solving. It allows us to experience a side of the industry never seen before: hamburgers that start in a petri dish; airline food that can be printed from an economy seat; and kitchen tables that suggest recipes, cook meals and serve as a place to enjoy them. However, as we embrace the food-tech connect, it’s critical to communicate how these innovations provide answers to questions around issues such as sustainable storage, distribution and consumption, and safer human interaction with ingredients. With their tech-savvy sensibilities, younger consumers can potentially play a key role in building advocacy for the industry.

Global Food Forum. People care as much about the companies that make food and beverage products as they do about the products themselves. Topics like GMOs, animal welfare and food safety blur the line between issues- and culture-based trends, and create a common language that transcends geographic boundaries. Everyone has a voice, including consumers. Just like other stakeholders, they want their concerns to be heard and their questions answered in a timely manner, with honest and open dialogue.

Food as an Experience. Food and beverage is as nourishing for the soul as for our physical well-being. No matter how much transformation the sector undergoes, we maintain a soft spot for heritage and simplicity. This is reflected in trends that speak to locally cultivated cuisine and the art of cooking itself. It’s also about neurogastronomy. Smells, sounds and other stimuli are an increasingly important part of the experience. Food and beverage is a delicious and fulfilling part of our lives, so the industry needs to tap into that dynamic, communicating the value and benefits it brings to our global marketplace daily.

The diversity and interdependence of these trends underscores that even in this increasingly complex environment, food and beverage connects us, compels us to share and defines who we are.

View the 16 Food Finds for 2016 below.

2016 Food & Beverage trends

Tish Van Dyke is the global lead of Edelman’s Food & Beverage sector.

  • Ainsley Blandford

    The food and beverage industry trending towards a global food forum has played out significantly in business’ increasing corporate social responsibility. In 2016, will food and beverage companies have to make a stand on topics like GMOs, animal welfare and food safety. Or is simply being transparent about their own practices enough to satisfy the increasing need for an “honest and open dialogue?”

    • Tish VanDyke

      Hi Ainsley – thanks for your comment. I think that you’ve really hit the nail on the head here. Transparency is a good first step for companies, but one hallmark of that open, honest dialogue is that it is often focused on a consumer endpoint – cutting out artificial ingredients, enacting food safety best practices or taking a stand on animal welfare, for example. So, the transparent communication itself isn’t necessarily enough to satisfy consumers; it must be geared towards measurable and actionable goals that align with consumers’ needs, values and beliefs. With that, I believe companies and organizations in the food and beverage industry can achieve the authenticity that consumers are seeking from them.

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