Maintaining a dominant position in the global food and beverage landscape has forced large-scale producers to take stock of emergent market trends and forces.  In this article, we’ll break down some of the top trends that are impacting global food and beverage brands.  In doing so, we’ll outline how some of the top names in the business are adapting to these changes, and in some cases leveraging emergent trends to increase sales and boost brand visibility and presence.  In 2009, Consumer Goods Technology released an article outlining the top six trends that were affecting the largest global players in the food and beverage industry.  These six trends were based on a white paper released by Packaged Facts, which detailed how these large-scale trends were going to impact companies such as Heinz and Coca-Cola in the coming years.  Now, positioned 8 years after the release of this study, we can see the prescience of their predictions and determine how these market forces are still working to shape the modern food and beverage industry landscape.

An Engaged Consumer Base

The emergence of an engaged consumer base has proven to be one of the most powerful trends impacting global food and beverage brands.  With the expansion of online communication between consumers, social media reviews, and a greater overall web presence, modern consumers are more empowered than ever before.  This empowerment manifests as an increasingly discerning consumer that knows what they want, is willing to dive deep for information about products, and is more informed about the health consequences of the products they consume.  Large players in the industry have adapted to an empowered consumer base by increasing transparency about the products they offer, establishing a robust online presence, embracing the power of social media, and increasing consumer outreach.

Consumers are demanding healthier products

Over the past decade, consumer demand for healthier products has continuously increased.  Today’s consumers are much more likely to make the health impact of a product a priority during any purchasing decision.  Food and beverage manufacturers have adapted to this by creating new product lines that offer a healthier alternative, reformulating existing products to showcase their potential health benefits, and investing in craft industries that are marketed towards populations that prioritize health.

The millennial market

One trend not identified in the report that continues to influence marketing, branding, and new product lines is the effort to secure an increased share of the millennial market.  Captivating millennial consumers is a powerful incentive to many of the large players in the industry.  Millennials are less likely to consume soft-drinks and other beverages or foods that they consider a less healthy alternative, which has pushed the food and beverage industry towards new product lines that are designed to appeal to the millennial consumer.  Millennial purchasing power will continue to increase over the coming years, making this a top priority for food and beverage brand marketers.

Establishing a global presence

Large players in the food and beverage industry saw the advantage early of identifying emerging markets and establishing a strong foothold in those markets.  This trend has continued to be a top priority for large brands in the industry.  Increasing industrialization and development in the third-world and emerging markets has brought billions of new consumers with greater purchasing power.  Major food and beverage manufacturers recognize that future stability requires expanding into new markets in order to continually maintain their advantage.  This trend is expected to continue over the coming years, as economic growth, industrialization, and integration of emerging markets into the world economic system continues to occur at a blistering pace.

Environmental awareness

One of the most hot-button issues affecting the world today is the impact humans have on the environment.  Navigating the issues of global warming and pollution is more important for large-scale beverage and food manufacturers than ever before.  A consumer base that is more informed than ever before, and prioritizes sustainable practices and ingredients that have a low environmental impact, has made this issue one of the most powerful modern trends.  Adapting to this trend will require both large and small-scale operations in the food and beverage industry to demonstrate sustainable practices and a concern for the environment.

Changing consumption patterns

Today’s consumer expects an expedited shopping experience.  However, convenience alone is no longer enough to satisfy the modern consumer.  Rather, major brands in the food and beverage industry recognize that the modern consumer also wants a unique shopping experience.  The intersection between convenience and an enhanced, unique experience is where capturing increased sales and boosting brand visibility occurs.  At the same time, major brands in the industry also recognize that the modern shopping experience is continually changing.  In particular, integration of technology with our everyday lives, combined with the massive expansion of online and mobile purchasing, is forcing companies to push the boundaries of how they deliver a pleasurable shopping experience to their consumers.