Trending: The Shift in F&B Purchasing Habits

By Kelley Kaiser

At the beginning of the year, plant-based proteins in new categories, healthy snacks on the go, smaller brands, pea protein, functional foods and more were touted to be the biggest trends that would shape the food industry in 2020. While we started the year excited about food and wellness trends, none of us in the industry could have anticipated that these trends would be a distant priority before we reached the second quarter of the year.  

While it’s obvious that our food and shopping habits have changed quickly and dramatically, the impact of these changes are something no one could have planned for. 

For example, normally booming categories, like grab-and-go items, single serve and bars are experiencing a downturn because of the lack of outside activities. On the other hand, categories that have been traditionally stagnant — flour, pancake and baking mixes and other simple foods we wouldn’t normally turn to — are experiencing a surge. And, beyond the categorical shifts in the aisles people turn down at the market, the way people shop has quickly changed. Services like Amazon Fresh and Instacart are booming, but even those companies are struggling to meet demand and find effective ways to keep employees safe and well compensated during the crisis. 

So what does this mean for us as PR pros and our F&B clients? It’s uncertain how this major shift will play out in consumer’s routines because we have yet to fully understand what the new normal looks like. Will it force us to slow down and cook more? Will we be more weary about travel, and therefore lose the need for snacks on the go? Here are some key trends to consider as the industry changes: 

  • Millennials changing the game. Pandemic or not, this segment is driving major industry shifts. They have a higher buying standard than previous generations, and are bringing new consumption preferences and higher expectations than any previous generation.
  • Core offerings provide a safety net. At-home products and core product offerings continue to prove to be safe bets. The products that are beloved by core audiences are getting companies through this difficult time. 
  • The shopping dynamic has shifted. From an increase in e-commerce, to the new shelf space available in the grocery stores, brands are continuing to be mindful of how they, and their products, can adapt to address changing needs and capitalize on new white space.  

The food and beverage industry may not be new to the ever-changing world of consumer purchasing behavior, but the pandemic has surely highlighted this behavior in a new way. In the meantime, the changes in our culture present unprecedented opportunities to evolve while this new normal unfolds.

Have you noticed any other changes in the food and beverage industry? Fill out the form below and let us know!