While we can’t claim to have a crystal ball to see the future, the team here at C|O works hard to stay in the thick of forces shaping ag and food markets and thus the part where we and most readers fit—marketing and communications. Here are three powerful trends worth keeping a close eye on for 2019.
Lab-grown gaining traction
The issue: Agricultural products (Do we call it meat?) made from cellular sources are getting closer and closer to market. Consumer trials in Asia and other parts of the world seem likely for early 2019 while the approval process—process not product—begins to become clear in the U.S. Think products consumers might accept like chicken nuggets and ground beef, not cricket flour.
Points to know:
- USDA, FDA or both? At the end of 2018, the FDA and USDA announced they would jointly regulate, with the FDA overseeing “cell collection, cell banks, and cell growth and differentiation” and the USDA “the production and labeling of food products derived from cells of livestock and poultry.” A number of companies will have viable products seeking approval in 2019.
- What’s in a name? Debate continues as to whether to call these products meat at all, with organizations like the National Pork Producers Council advancing terms like “lab-produced cultured protein” and the American Farm Bureau adopting a policy opposing all use of the words “meat” and “fish” on labels for lab-grown and plant-based protein products.
- Who’s in? Major players like Tyson and McDonald’s continue exploring their next moves.
Our tip: With the world’s biggest animal ag companies and individuals with some of the deepest pockets investing in cellular agriculture, you better map out how this will affect your organization. Because it will.
Plant-based protein moves mainstream
The issue: Led by millennials and younger consumers, the acceptance of plant-based protein as a normal part of a diet, often in addition to traditional sources, will accelerate.
Points to know:
- Forever young? Our research shows millennials and younger audiences are predisposed to plant-based protein sources. Overlay this with plant-based as a leading global trend for three years running.
- Follow the money? Significant commitments, such as Ingredion’s $140 million investment to accelerate growth in plant-based proteins, are becoming increasingly commonplace.
- Is impossible possible? Ongoing creativity and innovation will succeed in making plant-based protein alternatives more appealing to consumers.
- Carl’s Jr. ?!?! If that’s not enough to convince you, consider that Carl’s Jr. now features a Beyond Burger on its menu. Hello mainstream.
Our tip: Carnivore versus vegan has become a moot point. Plant-based is becoming commonplace. Has your messaging evolved to accommodate?
Functional foods shift choices
The issue: Consumers will increasingly turn to foods that serve their sleep, exercise, longevity, mental acuity, attention span and digestion needs. Witness the introduction of pre-biotics—supplements to promote the growth of the good things promised by probiotics.
Points to know:
- Growth charted? A Compound Annual Growth Rate of 7 percent is anticipated for functional food ingredients from 2018-2022.
- Functional food fight? Wellness-focused diets are creating an ever more competitive landscape.
- Who’s leading? The Finns. Curiously enough, Finland is a leader in this emerging part of the food industry.
Our tip: With a nod to Wayne Gretzky during hockey season—go to where the puck will be. Are there unexplored areas where the product you grow, process or serve could deliver the functional benefits consumers crave?
Whether you milk cows, process soybeans or sell the mustard served up on a Chicago dog, powerful forces—not fads—are reshaping agriculture and food. We can help you dig into the minds of your customers, reshape brands, shift perceptions and create communications that sell. Drop us a note and let’s talk: Mark Gale, email@example.com.