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By Joel Goldstein, president, Mr. Checkout Distributors
The only way to stay successful in the food and beverage industry is to stay on top of what consumers want and adapt quickly. This year, be ready to see major growth across the country in these three categories:
Snacking will go all-natural.
Sparked by decades of concern over how our food is grown, processed and packaged, the all-natural snacking trend will explode in 2016. All-natural has come to mean products that are free from artificial ingredients and kept as close to their most natural form as possible. Over the last few years, retailers and many food distributors have noticed a shift to this all-natural preference, as sweet snacks have seen a steady decline in favor of yogurts, nuts, and protein bars that are conveniently packaged, all-natural and nutritious, too.
Major brands, including General Mills and Nestle, have jumped on the all-natural bandwagon and announced plans to remove artificial flavors and colors and replace them with natural spices, fruit and vegetable concentrates. The fact that these two big players in the packaged goods industry are giving into the all-natural trend shows that this way of eating spans across multiple generations. General Mills and Nestle typically produce products for kids, so if these brands are going all-natural, expect this trend to cross over every generation and consumer type.
Sodas will become clear.
As many retailers and beverage distributors are aware, the soda industry has been plagued with problems ever since the previously mentioned all-natural, healthy trend picked up steam. In fact, The New York Times called the decline of sodas the “single largest change in the American diet in the last decade.” In order to appeal to health-conscious consumers, the soda industry will make major changes in 2016, most importantly by eliminating artificial dyes and going clear.
One of the first sodas to go clear was Zevia, a move that the CEO said was due to the increased consumer demand for sodas without artificial coloring. In 2016, the soda category will look to completely transform and reposition itself as a lighter, healthier alternative to classic colas. Look for many other brands, both large and small, to follow in Zevia’s lead.
International products will come to U.S. stores.
Consumer tastes are most definitely changing and expanding. Today’s consumers want to experience a multitude of international and exotic flavors, leading to an influx of international products within U.S. stores. Consider the sriracha trend sparked by the growing Millennial generation, where a previously unheard of flavor with roots in Thailand quickly became America’s favorite condiment. This example is just the beginning for the rise of international and exotic foods that will make their way into U.S. stores during 2016.
This year, expect unconventional foods to make a splash in retailers, introducing this eager generation of consumers to new cuisines and flavors from all over the world. Once the market has been penetrated with international foods, expect traditional foods to add internationally inspired flavoring to existing products, much like potato chip brands did in the midst of the sriracha craze.
Take these trends into consideration when developing a strategy for 2016, and you’ll be guaranteed a successful year.
Mr. Checkout is a national group of independent distributors and full-line grocery distributors, which together service approximately 35,000 stores around the country. For companies that have a product for convenience stores or grocery stores, visit http://mrcheckout.net.