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6 trends in the food and beverage industry to watch in 2016

VIDEO

Food and beverage companies in 2016 are challenged with balancing customer likes, creativity, competition and compliance. Whether it’s offering the latest bold flavor preferences, implementing natural ingredients to address health-conscious customer wishes or being mindful of regulatory scrutiny over product labeling, businesses will need to stay ahead of a variety of challenges to remain relevant with customers and be competitive in the market. How can middle market companies deliver customers what they crave and also continue to see business growth?

2016 food and beverage outlook

Listen to our industry insiders as they discuss important changes affecting food and beverage businesses this year in this short video.

Trends and issues

Note the following trends and issues shaping the food and beverage industry in 2016.

Changing customer preferences
Mergers and acquisitions
Food safety
E-commerce
Sustainability
Technology

Changing customer preferences

The health and wellness movement continues to grow among consumers and their food preferences reflect that. Likewise, shifts in eating patterns, cravings for new flavors, exotic choices as well as convenience and fresh food options will also continue to grow among hungry consumers. Millennials will want their bold flavors, busy families will want their snacks and quick meals, and health-conscious weekend athletes will want their protein bars and energy drinks. Staying on top of these shifting lifestyles and preferences will be essential, and sometime exhausting, for relevant and successful food and beverage companies in 2016 and beyond.

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Mergers and acquisitions

To keep up with changing consumer tastes, especially related to the health and wellness trend, many companies in 2016 will add product lines or introduce healthier products and ingredients to their foods and drinks. Yet, rather than developing these newer products within the business’ existing operations, more and more we’re seeing companies acquire businesses that are producing the type of healthy foods or ingredients they’re looking for. These acquisitions are frequently done at a lower cost than spending the time and resources in internal research and development of these newer products.

The savvy food and beverage company will have to be diligent in weighing these tempting acquisitions, however, ensuring smart investment decisions are made based on sound market assessments rather than fleeting food fads.

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Food safety

In RSM’s recent Food and Beverage Industry Survey respondents indicated concern about the effects of product recalls on their reputations. More than 45 percent of survey participants indicated product recall capabilities were a priority for them, and over 50 percent said ingredient and lot tracking were other areas of major focus. Yet, only a little more than a third of the companies surveyed said they were actually confident in their present safety and recall strategies.

Listen to what our industry insiders are saying about food safety, label scrutiny and more. Plus, learn how millennials will continue to shape the industry with their demands for unique food offerings.

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E-commerce

The demand for online grocery delivery will explode in 2016 as busy professionals and families are showing their love for doorstep delivery. And deliveries aren’t just packaged products like cereal and cookies. Rather, the need for fresh product delivery will grow in demand, like Amazon Fresh’s service providing on-demand fresh vegetables, fruits and more. Customers order their choices from their devices and delivery is provided within hours or available for pickup at neighboring locations. Look for this service to continue to grow regionally, too, as local dairies and farmers develop operations to meet their customers’ needs.

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Food sustainability

Along with food safety, customers want to know their food producers are green, control their water consumption, use alternative energies like solar-power, reduce wasteful packaging and more. Yet, sometimes, these important sustainable measures can be costly to operations. Companies must leverage efficient green systems and be aware of cost-saving tax credits for the states they operate in.

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Technology

Strategically investing in new technology, leveraging emerging mobile and social platforms to connect with a more digitally savvy audience, and reevaluating product and brand strategies to more closely align with areas of popular focus are initiatives that will undoubtedly take center stage in 2016. To learn more, read Food and beverage on the horizon: What’s in, what’s out, and what to expect in 2016

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