Top 2023 food and beverage market trends

Two Women Enjoying Lunch Date In Delicatessen Restaurant

The top 5 trends

We have used our market intelligence and application knowledge to identify the top trends that will fuel food and beverage innovation this year.

Few markets see trends emerging faster than food and beverage, and operators in this space need to keep on top of changes to stay ahead of the curve. Our Food & Nutrition team has used the market intelligence we have gleaned via our global ingredient distribution, procurement, and application infrastructure to identify the top five trends that will fuel food and beverage innovation in 2023.

“Our business model, which combines a global distribution footprint with local execution, gives us a unique view on market trends. We wanted to tap into this intelligence to benefit our customers, by using it to inform and inspire product development,” explains Joanna Self, Director, Business Development and Strategic Content, Nutrition, at Brenntag Americas.

We have leveraged all our research resources - customer and supplier insights, ingredient performance data, country-specific application experience, product launch activity scanning, and market research - to pinpoint the trends that will drive consumer preferences in North and Latin America in 2023. These trends will be translated into the foods and beverages of tomorrow as they shape the concepts we share with our customers.

Women at dinner table serving food

Sustainability: upcycled ingredients and the planet-health connection

Sustainability has steadily been climbing the consumer agenda in recent years to become a top concern. There are several ways in which food and beverage manufacturers can demonstrate a commitment to sustainability, but going into 2023, two approaches, in particular, will resonate with consumers.

The first is making a connection between the planet and personal well-being. ‘Good for the planet, good for you’ will become an increasingly important mantra as health and sustainability become more intertwined. Consumers will actively seek out products that establish a strong connection between planetary health and personal health.

“We are committed to being a leader in responsible distribution of sustainable chemicals and ingredients. We aim to increase our share of sustainable solutions year over year, not only to support the on-going trends we are seeing, but also because being a responsible partner is a key component to who we are,” elaborates Erin Sedlak, Sustainability Project Manager, at Brenntag North America.

The second will be the use of upcycled ingredients and the valorization of by- and co-products. An example might be drying the pulp that is a by-product of carrot juice production to make an extract powder or a coloring foodstuff, thereby deriving maximum value from the raw ingredient. In its 2021 Lifestyles & Attitudes Survey, Innova reported that launches of foods and beverages that make claims regarding the use of upcycled ingredients grew by 79% from 2017-2021. We expect this trend to continue to gain momentum as ingredient suppliers seek to reduce waste within their operations and become more transparent in communicating their actions and processes.

“We work with some ingredient vendors who have great stories to tell around upcycled ingredients and as a business, we actively choose to work with suppliers who prioritize sustainability, whether that is through recycling water or lowering their carbon emissions. Telling the story behind why certain ingredients are used and how they support the planet and health will be increasingly important as consumers as well as retailers start to take an interest in supply chain transparency,” says Joanna.


Plant-based: fish analogs and hybrid foods poised for growth

Deepening eco-anxiety is also feeding the plant-based food and beverage trend, which will continue its upward growth trajectory. As the category matures, however, product development strategies will need to evolve to provide clean/clear label alternatives and to attract ‘casual’ as well as committed vegetarians and vegans.

Fish analogs, which are currently undeveloped compared with plant-based meat, poultry, and dairy alternatives, will become a hotbed of innovation, amid growing concern about overfishing and the marine environment. Ready-to-eat and ready-to-cook products such as fish-free fingers and plant-based tuna and sushi will lead the way, followed by a second wave of more sophisticated products such as vegan octopus, clams, shrimps, and cuttlefish.

At SupplySide West 2022, for example, we were serving up plant-based fish tacos with tomatillo sauce. The filling was a fish analog that used various texturized proteins to replicate the taste and texture of fried perch.

Foods that are part-animal product, part-plant-based, offering healthier and more sustainable alternatives to 100% meat or dairy products, are also poised for growth as the flexitarian movement gains traction. Some consumers are becoming increasingly aware that too much meat may not be the best for their well-being or the planet and are opting to ‘eat less and eat better’. Hybrid foods enable them to find a ‘green’ middle ground rather than making ‘black and white’ decisions about eating meat and dairy.

“Hybrid foods are an emerging trend but one that resonates with health-conscious consumers who aren’t 100% committed to plant-based but want to do their bit for the environment. The ability to include some meat or dairy content also makes hybrid products easier to formulate from a flavor and texture point of view, so these products are more likely to find acceptance with flexitarian consumers,” notes Joanna.

Tofu sliced on a wooden board. Love for a healthy vegan food concept

Mindfulness and holistic well-being: consumers take control

Consumers are taking control of their health through their food and drink choices and are seeking clarity and transparency from brands to inform their decisions. Holistic well-being has been a driver for food and beverage NPD for some time, but latterly it has evolved into a ‘what else can food do for me?’ consumer mindset. Brands will need to respond by empowering consumers to make educated food and drink choices.

Consumers’ attention has been captured by the growing body of science around gut health and immunity - 70% of the immune system has been found to be in the gut. During the pandemic, consumers started taking pre-, pro-, and post-biotics to boost their immunity, and the concept of using food as a vehicle for influencing health grew from there. Going forwards, innovation will target a variety of health platforms - from stress relief to sleep and skin health - and use a variety of ingredients - from botanicals with a health halo to science-backed ingredients.

It will also be about making every calorie work - replacing foods that provide ‘empty calories’ in the diet with nutrient-packed alternatives. Our food technologists recently developed a sports recovery freeze pop (‘freezie’) to demonstrate how brands might embrace this trend. Naturally sourced colors, low-calorie sweeteners, minerals, and amino acids add value and assure consumers that they are making a healthy choice versus a conventional freeze pop.

Playful father and son baking in kitchen

Amplified experiences: bringing global experiences home

Consumers are looking to make up for the restrictions that were imposed on them during the pandemic. They are more open to experimenting with new products and embracing new technologies. In Innova’s 2021 Trends Survey, more than one in two consumers globally agreed that post COVID-19, they wanted to be more adventurous with their food choices.

At the same, whilst the pandemic restricted travel and going out, digital technology and e-commerce accelerated at a pace that made it easier for brands to bring experiences to the consumer and gave consumers information and news from around the world at their fingertips.

This context has created an opportunity for manufacturers to deliver amplified experiences that take advantage of those global flavor trends that are now visible to consumers and new technologies that can facilitate delivery and enhance the consumer experience.


Innovation and modification: meeting consumer needs in a changing landscape

Product development projects will be framed by a new set of challenges in 2023. As we move into an era of weak income gains and inflation, consumers will need to economize and stretch their limited resources more than ever before. To succeed in this cost-conscious climate, products must provide value - not just in terms of affordability, but also in quality, convenience, experience, and wellness. The other major challenge that product developers will have to contend with is ongoing supply issues.

Against this backdrop of economic and supply uncertainty, formula modifications to replace difficult-to-source ingredients and to reduce recipe cost will be inevitable for many food and beverage operators.

Thanks to our advanced application labs and mixing & blending capabilities, we are ideally equipped to help manufacturers work through these challenges. Whether the brief is to develop a new ingredient system for an innovative new hybrid product, reduce total delivered cost (TDC) for an existing product, or execute a nutrition-driven reformulation, we can help. Some of the solutions might be less obvious - such as improving batch-to-batch consistency or removing steps from a supply chain - but we have the experience and the flexibility to support our customers in turning product development challenges into opportunities to innovate.

This document is for informational purposes only. The statements made herein are based on our knowledge and belief at the time of publication, but we makes no warranties, express or implied, as to the accuracy, completeness, or adequacy of the information contained herein.

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