The food and beverage industry has always been characterised by volatility and change. Though trends come and go, the key has always been about staying firm with a core premise, which allows startups to innovate mindfully.
However, the COVID-19 pandemic threw not just the food and beverage industry but the entire world into hitherto unseen chaos. Businesses collapsed, people lost jobs, and economies went into recession. While things seem to be slowly limping back to some form of normalcy, the key now for any industry will be to adapt to the new normal.
Here are a few key trends that could define the food and beverage startup space over the next year:
Innovation in healthy and nutritious food products
The startups mushrooming in this space seem to focus on being aggregators for different categories of food. While there are various food aggregators, not much innovation has been happening in food creation. Many traditional food companies are focused on producing food on a mass scale and without being equally conscious of health and nutritional concerns.
There is a huge opportunity here for startups to look at healthy and fresh food products. The pandemic brought health and immunity into sharp focus, and this could be one of the critical aspects that determine the innovation in the food startup space.
There is innovation possible at every level, from finding meat alternatives, reducing fatty food, to how the food products are manufactured and packaged. Consumers are increasingly looking at healthier lifestyle choices and switching to foods that enable a more nutritious lifestyle. After all, never has the mantra of ‘health is wealth’ been more important than now!
Sanitisation methods and hygiene post-COVID-19
Hygiene has become a key topic of discussion due to COVID-19. A post-COVID era will look at strict hygiene standards, especially in the food industry.
Consumers want to know if the products are manufactured as per established hygiene standards. They are keen to know about the methods used to package the food and if hygiene protocols are being followed.
Local and sustainable practices
A fresh supply of food is only possible when the produce is made locally and supplied from within a short distance. Food products need not travel hundreds of miles to reach the consumer, and may not be frozen for months before they are consumed.
Locally manufactured and supplied food products are healthy and reduce the carbon footprint due to transportation. Consumers need traceability and some association with the food manufacturers.
There is an added benefit of being able to provide food that has a local taste and flavour. Enormous research has gone into creating food items over centuries to meet the local consumer’s needs regarding community taste, weather conditions, etc. That need not be lost in the name of globalising food. We will see a focus on local food products, sourced locally and eaten seasonally.
Consumers are now spoilt for choice in every food category. A product must stand out among all the possible options consumers have to pick your product. A product must be unique, healthy, and tasty.
At the same time, messaging, packaging, and positioning of the product is also equally important. A product that gets through the clutter is the one that the consumer will likely pick.
Brand value and ethos
Consumers now are conscious of who they buy from, their story, the values they believe in, and what contribution a brand makes to the society. With information available at the tip of the finger, it is easy to study and make an educated buying decision.
Therefore, a food startup needs to have that story – have a firm mission and vision, have a clear idea of what their product is and who it will benefit, and what the value adds that it brings, not just for the consumer but society as a whole.
(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)