What's hot in food and beverage: new global trends revealed

19 Dec 2017


Macro trends and macadamiasThe Australian Macadamias marketing program is guided by the results of regular consumer research. Continually monitoring the motivations and perceptions behind consumer behaviour is invaluable to identifying where the most promising innovation opportunities lie for our product.

We’re excited to share the findings from our most recent study that examined the latest global consumer trends for food and beverages, how they’re manifesting in both western and Asian markets, and what they mean for macadamias. 

These macro trends and the way they are manifesting offer up food for thought for product development across a host of product categories and markets. If you would like further information on any of these insights, please feel free to contact your supplier, or Australian Macadamias Market Development Manager Lynne Ziehlke

The 5 macro trends driving food and beverage consumer behaviour 

This research identified five key macro trends that are set to shape the food and beverage landscape over the next five to seven years. Here we provide an overview of each, including the micro trends and macadamia innovation hot spots that each of the macro trends offers up, both in Western and Asian markets. 

1. CONTROL OF HEALTH 

Health and wellbeing has become a powerful driver of food and beverage purchases in recent years.  

In Western markets, health has become a currency that consumers are embracing, and is now attainable for all consumers, not just wealthier sections of society. Western consumers have a heightened knowledge of nutrition, at an almost molecular level. Health is being built into all moments of the day, and while many consumers are embracing organic, gluten free and raw trends, this says more about their personal brand than it does about true dietary requirements. 

This trend offers up a host of opportunities for macadamias in Western markets. As a food with ‘plant power’, they can satisfy consumer desire for non-meat protein. As a source of magnesium (which promotes good quality sleep), they could play a role in the growing ‘night time nutrition’ space, while their health benefits and portability are a great fit for the kids snacking category, with Gen Z increasingly pestering their parents to provide healthier snacks.  

Health plays out a little differently in Asian markets, where the ‘health is wealth’ and holistic view of health originated. Food is considered nature’s medicine, however it is also about external appearance, keeping young and looking good. There is significant concern about food safety in many Asian markets, and organic food is regarded as the safest option.   

Many Asian consumers are lactose intolerant and in search of plant-based alternatives, opening up a significant opportunity for macadamias. Consumers are also increasingly aware of the importance of protein, and looking for products that offer sports nutrition, both of which macadamias can play to. While macadamias have featured in breakfast cereals in Western markets, cereal is not a popular choice among Asian consumers, raising the question of whether macadamias could feature in Asian breakfast foods like steamed buns. 

2. HERE AND NOW 

Modern life is moving at an increasingly fast pace, and consumers are seeking instant gratification. This is feeding the growing snacking trend, as consumers move from three square meals a day to food anytime, anywhere, on demand. 

In the West, the need for convenience endures, and our ‘always on’ lives have seen the rise of snacking and on-demand delivery services. Snacking is moving from a habit that occurs between meals to a meal replacement in its own right, driving a rise in nutritious snack products. This presents an opportunity for macadamias to play an increased role in the nutritional meal replacement space. 

Western consumers are also searching for ‘petite pleasures’, for which macadamias are a perfect fit.  

Asian markets also hold enormous potential for product innovation in line with this trend. In China, snacking has become a way of life, and macadamias can leverage this in multiple forms: sweet snacking, treat snacking, snacking as a meal replacement. As a highly satiating nut, macadamias are an ideal ingredient for busy Chinese urbanites who are seeking something filling on the go. 

3. NO FILTER 

Consumer trust is at an all-time low, and brands have nowhere to hide when it comes to the source, production, ingredients, transportation and packaging of food. 

Consumers in the West are now consciously choosing brands that align with authentic and transparent values. They’re demanding absolute transparency not only in terms of ingredients, source and production methods, but also sustainability practices and how communities are affected by the products they’re purchasing. 

By far the biggest trend engulfing Asian markets at the moment, Chinese consumers in particular have serious concerns about food safety, with many basing their purchase decisions on a brand’s country of origin. Asian consumers perceive the West to be a symbol of purity, and safety of source, ingredient and production process. 

This trend highlights the opportunity for brands to call out macadamia origin on pack, as well as flagging their real, raw and pure credentials. In the West, there is scope to allow consumers to source and trace where their nuts came from and the carbon impact of harvesting and transporting them. In Asian markets, products containing Australian macadamias could gain traction by leveraging the Australian grown ‘purity of source’ narrative. 

4. GLOBAL FUSION

As the world becomes borderless, flavours, foods and heritage are merging, catering to our “restless palate syndrome”. Products are catering to new flavours and culturally sensitive expressions of other countries.  

In the West, the expansion of multiculturalism is continuing, with international flavours emerging in the cuisine landscape. Increased travel and internet access is seeing the globalisation of fusion flavours expand. 

Fusion cuisine – the deliberate combination of two or more distinct cuisines – has become popular. Macadamias, being such a versatile nut, could successfully combine with countless other foods in this way.  

In Asia, food trends that originate in Japan, South Korea and Taiwan hold great status in China, as they’re considered to have the ‘cool’ factor that Chinese consumers are seeking. Macadamias positioned with the Japanese ‘cool factor’ could hold appeal for Chinese consumers.  

In China’s tier 1 and 2 cities, consumers make highly sophisticated food choices and everyday eating out has become a food journey, from Italian mash-up to traditional Chinese meals. As a versatile ingredient, macadamias suit a variety of cuisines and can easily play in this space. 

5. MEMORABLE FOOD 

The potential for food and beverages to deliver excitement and happiness holds great value.  

Western consumers have come to value experiences more than products, with the the experience that surrounds food and beverage products holding the most potential to create memories and excitement. Macadamias have scope to engage the senses beyond taste. Their unique sound (soft crunch), uniquely perfect, round shape, and rich, creamy feel make them a multi-layered and unforgettable sensory experience. 

With many people now enjoying Instagramming their food as much as eating it, food has become a form of theatre, embedded into consumers’ lives more than ever, and an expression of an individual’s values and desire for an enriched life. Binge culture has become acceptable, as consumers seek escape in food, with macadamias, and products that contain them, offering high binge-ability. 

Memories from childhood make Western consumers feel safe, in the form of nostalgia. Macadamias play perfectly in the nostalgia space and could be added to a traditional product like apple pie for a nostalgic twist. 

In China, the idea of experiencing beauty from the inside out is gaining traction, presenting an opportunity for macadamias to feature in ingestible beauty products. 

Premium product offerings signal success and luxury in China, and high-end macadamia offerings could be highly appealing to this market.  

The promise of energy is powerful among urban populations, and for macadamias, there is potential to feature in products that promise to energise Asian consumers. 

Do trends matter?  

Trends originate where fixed human need states meet changes in the culture we live in.  

Cultural drivers can be societal, technological, economic, environmental or political. Current cultural drivers include the rising rates of obesity, the ageing population, a drop in the number of traditional families and an increasing single household population.  

Human need states are drivers such as the need to belong, the need to be an individual and the need to give back.  

All these factors together affect who we are as a society, how we eat and how we get our food. 

Why is this relevant? Because these trends signal changes in consumer expectations and provide an indication of what lies ahead, enabling producers and manufacturers to innovate in ways that will meet changing consumer desires as they come to fruition. 

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