2018 Food Trends: Local Food Brands Edition

It’s the start of a new year and that means one thing in the food world: predictions of 2018 food trends are upon us.

We are going to be reading all sorts of new foods, flavors and eating trends that consumers will be looking to add to their menus and shopping lists.

But does that really happen?

I do believe a majority of the Specialty Food Association 2018 Trendspotter Panel predictions will come to fruition.  But how long will it take to trickle down to the average consumer – mom and dad of middle America? When are they going to be adding rose and lavender flower flavoring, goth food and cannabis cuisine to their family’s weekly shopping list by March, July or October? Or ever?

So we are asking a better question that impacts the folks we work with: How will smaller, local and regional food brands be able to take advantage of the 2018 food trends in a meaningful way?

The retail buyer looks to his food vendors to be an experts in their category. So it is in the best interest of every food company stakeholder to stay on top of trends and how they can affect their business.

With that in mind, I’ll cut out the clutter and give local and smaller food entrepreneurs the 2018 food trends predictions we see across several reports that may impact their business. Hopefully you can leverage this info without much extra work. Maybe in their marketing. Potentially in their their sales presentations.

Transparency 2.0

Let’s start with what the trendmasters are calling: Transparency 2.0

Consumers have been getting more in tune to what is going into the products they are are shopping for. Got GMO? Let them know. Better if you can say no. Local and smaller food companies, it’s in your best interest to know – and promote – where your raw materials come from. If you can, talk about responsible production and if applicable, animal welfare.

Value Alignment

Next is something that’s hinted at in several of the 2018 food trends but is really a larger macro trend across all categories: Value Alignment. Simply put, corporate support of a cause that aligns with your core audience. Here are some facts:

  • The Numbers (IEG Sponsorship Report)
    • Cause sponsorship is predicted to surpass $2 billion in 2017
  • Consumer Preference
    • Unilever Consumer Study: 33% of consumers buy from brands doing social or environmental good
  • Millennials Are Influencing The Future Of Philanthropy (2017 Boston Consulting Group)
    • Millennials expect companies to support the social issues and causes they care about and will reward them if they do.
    • “Add good” has been the Millennial’s mantra as they utilize newfound ways to give back.
  • Economic Opportunity (Unilever Consumer Study)
    • An estimated $1.2 trillion opportunity exists for brands that make their sustainability credentials clear.

Small business owners are known for giving back to the communities they thrive in. Shifting that thinking to the consumer community you thrive in: what are the issues they care about and how can you support it?

Local Food

This last one is a macro-trend that ties all these things together: Local Food is still growing strong.

  • The Numbers
    • USDA predicts that the sales of locally produced foods, which hit $12 billion in 2014, will surge to $20 billion by 2019.
  • A.T. Kearney and The Hartman Group (2016 report)
    • Almost all consumers (93 percent) associate local with fresh, and fresh is the No. 1 purchasing factor for grocery consumers by far.
    • Approximately 78 percent of shoppers are willing to pay more for local food.
    • Being local is an increasingly important attribute for not just produce, meat, and seafood, but also prepared foods and dry goods.

“Local” as a macro trend is only going to get bigger. “Big Food” knows this and is doing everything it can to appear local.smaller, local and regional food brands need to not only own their “localness” but leverage it in their packaging, marketing and retail food buyer presentations.

I find it interesting that Whole Foods/Amazon left out “local” foods in their 2018 Whole Foods Top Food Trends report? I wonder if this has anything to do with reports that Amazon is going to centralize sourcing where the Whole Foods model was very decentralized and locol-vore…or as I’ve been calling it: the Amazonification of Whole Foods?

See The Trends for Yourself

For reference here is a short round up of the top credible 2018 Food Trends reports I looked at:

The annual reporting of 2018 food trends may be more about cutting edge flavors and eating styles but smaller, local and regional food brands should embrace and leverage all trends to stay ahead of the curve in their category.  To learn more about where to find trends and how to leverage them, contact NewPoint or look for information in my book, Moving Your Brand Up the Food Chain™.