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How to stay ahead: Five emerging trends in the food and beverage sector

How to stay ahead: Five emerging trends in the food and beverage sector

4 Minute Read

Explore five key trends shaping the Canadian food and beverage sector and how you can capitalize on them.

The emerging trends include:

  • Plant-based and alternative proteins
  • Functional ingredients and clean eating
  • Sustainable and eco-friendly packaging
  • Smart manufacturing and automation
  • Personalization and customization
National Leader, Food & Beverage Processing

The Canadian food and beverage sector is in a constant state of flux, driven by factors like innovation and always-evolving consumer preferences. For processors, staying ahead of these trends is critical to maintaining a competitive edge and meeting market demands.

Here are five key trends that are shaping the industry, along with some actionable insights on how to effectively capitalize on them.

Plant-based and alternative proteins

Consumers are increasingly turning to plant-based and alternative proteins — like pea protein, soybean protein, or lab-grown protein — due to health, ethical, and environmental concerns.

Additionally, as grocery prices have risen, we’ve seen and will continue to see consumers reaching for alternative protein sources as a more affordable option.

Take action:

  • Product development: Invest in research and development to create innovative plant-protein or alternative-protein products that cater to various dietary preferences. Consider exploring diverse sources of protein to create unique products that stand out in the marketplace.
  • Strategic partnerships: Collaborate with startups or established brands in the alternative protein space to leverage their expertise and their brand, and expand your product offerings. These partnerships can provide your business with access to different technologies, insights, and consumers.
  • Marketing: Highlight the health and sustainability benefits of plant-based products in your marketing campaigns to speak to health- and eco-conscious consumers. Use social media, influencer marketing, and educational content to share your message and establish your enterprise as a leader in the plant-based or alternative protein space.

Functional ingredients and clean eating

Consumers are increasingly looking for food products that offer specific health benefits — like probiotics, prebiotics, and collagen, to name a few. Customers want food and beverage products that meet dietary requirements, while serving as a vessel for functional ingredients that support their well-being.

This has led to a significant increase in label reading, food transparency, and an interest in understanding the importance of ingredients.

Take action:

  • Research and development: Identify gaps in the market for a new, innovative products. Evaluate your existing product offerings and consider adding clean or functional ingredients, like collagen, to create premium versions that appeal to wellness-minded consumers.
  • Transparency: Adopt transparent labelling practices to build trust with consumers by clearly communicating each ingredient and additive. Align your brand values with sustainability and wellness, and ensure this is reflected in your brand communications.

Sustainable and eco-friendly packaging

As Canadians become more eco-conscious, there’s a growing shift toward using renewable, biodegradable, and recyclable packaging materials for food and beverage products. Consumers are more knowledgeable than ever about the impact of packaging on the planet and are choosing products that reduce waste and are environmentally friendly.

By leveraging sustainable packaging, your business could differentiate itself in a highly competitive market. Keep in mind, once you start, it’s hard to stop. Consumers expect brands to include these eco-conscious packaging practices across all product offerings.

Take action:

  • Material innovation: Invest in biodegradable, compostable, or recyclable packaging materials that align with your sustainability goals. Consider innovative materials — like mushroom- or seaweed-based packaging — that are good for the planet and help your products stand out on a store shelf.
  • Consumer engagement: Consumers care deeply about sustainability. Align yourself with their values by communicating your sustainability efforts through your packaging and marketing materials. This can help you build brand loyalty and attract new, eco-conscious consumers.

Smart manufacturing and automation

Historically, innovative manufacturing methods have typically been reserved for large, nationwide processors. Today, processors of all sizes are having to turn to innovative technology, artificial intelligence, and robotics to stay competitive. It’s no longer an option, but a necessity.

These advancements improve efficiency, quality control, and traceability, but require significant investment in technology and the necessary onboarding and maintenance.

Take action:

  • Technology Adoption: Research and invest in the technology, artificial intelligence, and robotics that make sense for your organization. These solutions can optimize operations and improve accuracy, as well as provide real-time visibility to production lines.
  • Workforce training: Make sure you’re ready to seamlessly integrate and maintain new technologies by training your teams. This investment in continuous learning and professional development can help your employees adapt to new solutions and embrace change.
  • Engage an advisor: Consider working with an advisor who can audit your organization and provide guidance on streamlining operations and improving productivity.

Personalization and customization

Modern consumers have a desire for unique experiences and products that reflect individual preferences. For processors, that means they’re looking for food and beverage options that suit individual tastes, dietary needs, and lifestyle choices. This trend is driving innovation in product development, packaging, and marketing strategies.

This is a great opportunity for small and medium processors, who can be nimble and agile in their strategies, to take a bigger slice of the market share. Because it’s hard for large processors to be as agile, this trend has resulted in increased merger and acquisition activity within the industry, with larger companies acquiring smaller, innovative brands.

Take action:

  • Consumer data: Use consumer data to gain insights into the preferences of your customers and tailor your products accordingly. You can use touchpoints like surveys, social media interactions, and purchase history to better understand what your customers want.
  • Direct-to-consumer: Consider direct-to-consumer models to offer customized products directly to your customers, improving their buying experience and nurturing brand loyalty. By using an online platform, you can let consumers personalize their orders and provide feedback on their experience.

Staying ahead in a dynamic industry 

In the food and beverage sector, staying on top of emerging trends is no longer an option — it’s a necessity. By understanding and embracing these key trends, you can position your business for long-term success and market leadership.

Successfully implementing these trends requires strategic planning, execution, and a little bit of courage.

We are with you every step of the way

Our team of advisors are here to help you stay the course in this dynamic industry. With personalized advice and support, we can help you capitalize on these emerging trends and drive your business forward.

Contact us today to learn how you can position your business for sustainable success.


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