By Kris Huynh, BBA, Research Officer Intern, Regina
As one of the world’s leading market intelligence agencies, Mintel produces market reports on everything from beauty trends to global consumer trends. With the recent release of the Global Food and Drink Trends 2019, Mintel is predicting consumers’ preferences to follow three key trends:
- Sustainable consumption;
- Food and drink opportunities through aging; and
- Demand for convenience products.
The movement towards sustainability is becoming increasingly important to consumers. Manufacturers and retailers are extending sustainability to the entire product lifecycle, starting from sustainable sourcing, production, distribution, consumption and disposal process. Mintel refers to this trend as evergreen consumption, as it encompasses a circular view of sustainability.
Here in Saskatchewan, producers have adopted sustainable farming practices that benefit not only the environment, but also their bottom line. Many of these sustainable practices and innovative technologies are designed to improve soil health and fertility, sustain biodiversity, enhance ecosystems, protect water quality, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. For example, 93 per cent of annual crop land in Saskatchewan is under conservation tillage, which improves soil health and fertility by minimizing erosion. Saskatchewan producers have also been at the forefront of adopting precision agriculture techniques, which improve efficiency and reduce risks to water quality. By supporting producers to use technologies and management tools to protect the environment, it becomes much easier to tell the story of sustainability to a public audience.
Products for healthy aging have also taken centre stage due to an increasingly older global population. Packaged food and drinks are addressing aging health concerns through the fortification of functional ingredients. Omega-3 has become a popular fortification in packaged foods due to its ability to enhance brain development in small children and maintain joint health in aging adults. Omega-3 from Saskatchewan flax is often used in livestock feed. By adding omega-3s to an animal’s diet, the results are eggs, milk and meat that are fortified with omega-3 fatty acids ready for human consumption.
For the final trend, the continuing demand for convenience is spurring growth in new food and beverage products and shopping methods. Canada’s snack market is booming in popularity. For example, Three Farmers, a Saskatchewan-based company, produces one of the province’s most recognizable value-added foods. Known for their roasted chickpeas, green peas and lentil snacks, all products come in various flavours. Three Farmers also includes a traceability bar code on their products that allow consumers to learn about the origin and manufacturing of the product. Three Farmers has grown quickly and their products are selling across major Canadian natural food grocers and in the American market through Amazon.com.
Leading the way for enhanced convenience are automated stores such as Amazon Go. Fully automated stores use mobile apps and cameras that track purchases without using a checkout lane, making the retail experience fast and seamless. Automated convenience stores free-up time for the consumers, while meeting nutritional needs through products available. Canadian Amazon enthusiasts are speculating Amazon Go could be coming to Canada, likely to larger cities like Toronto. However, it may be quite some time before this innovative platform makes its way to Saskatchewan consumers.
While Mintel focuses on Amazon Go’s capabilities, Saskatchewan’s grocery store pick-up options have proven to be an industry disrupter. Loblaw’s, Canada’s largest grocer plans to expand e-grocery services and their click-and-collect program. The click-and-collect programs are a natural path toward delivering groceries to peoples’ homes. Both aging populations and busy households are thinking differently about food delivery in general.
While the 2019 food and beverage trends follow the course set in 2018, the demand for sustainability programs, initiatives and partnerships is good news for Saskatchewan agriculture and our producers. Our value-added sector can also capitalize on opportunities for upscale packaged food and drink products that can be consumed on any occasion. Staying ahead of these consumer trends will keep Saskatchewan producers and agribusinesses on the cusp of meeting customer needs into the future.