Specialist research company Ecovia Intelligence has released its trend predictions for 2019, stating that the year ahead is expected to be ‘an important one for the sustainable food industry’.
Trends for 2019 include:
Mainstreaming of organic foods
Organic food sales will continue the positive trajectory, with distribution continuing in mass market retailers (supermarkets, hypermarkets, discounters). Almost all such food retailers in Europe and North America are now marketing organic foods under their private labels. Private labels will continue to gain market share. In some countries, including Denmark (Coop) and Canada (Loblaw), the leading organic food brands are already retailer private labels.
Growing prominence of plant-based foods
With Veganuary underway, we have already seen the introduction of new fishless fingers, chickenless tenders, as well as omnipork make headway in Asia. Expect to see more plant-based product launches in retailers and foodservice establishments as veganism and ethical consumerism converge.
Reducing packaging impacts
Consumer concerns about plastic pollution in the oceans and landfill is putting pressure on food companies to address their packaging impacts. More organic and sustainable food companies are expected to move to biopolymers and other sustainable packaging materials.
Expect to see some disruptive innovation like EOSTA’s Natural Branding concept; the laser mark has saved 6.3 million pieces of plastic in the first year. In recognition of the innovation, the organic fresh produce firm received the Sustainable Packaging award at the 2018 Sustainable Food Awards.
Investments and acquisitions
More dedicated sustainable food enterprises are expected to be snapped up by large multinationals this year. Unilever recently acquired The Vegetarian Butcher; it previously bought leading organic food firms in Brazil and the UK. More investment is expected into organic and sustainable food firms from the financial community.
Sustainability schemes and labels
The ethical labelling trend will continue as more such schemes are introduced, and as adoption rates rise. Some of the labels that are gaining popularity are non-GMO, vegan, and gluten-free.
The market share of certified commodities will continue to rise. Over a third of all coffee, a quarter of cocoa, and almost a fifth of tea is already certified according to voluntary sustainability schemes. More companies are expected to adopt in-house sustainable sourcing schemes, following the lead of Starbucks (CAFÉ Practices), and Mondelez Foods (Harmony).
Ethical retail initiatives
The Dutch retailer EkoPlaza came under the spotlight in 2018 for introducing the first plastic-free aisles in its organic food supermarkets. Expect to see more natural and organic food retailers adopt plastic-free aisles, as well as zero waste retail concepts.
Growing power of millennials
The millennials are already some of the most avid buyers of sustainable and organic products; they will wield greater influence as their spending power continues to rise. As they buy more from online platforms, Amazon and other e-retailers will gain market share for sustainable products.