5 food trends to keep an eye on in 2019
Nestlé USA’s CEO gives a look behind the curtain at how taste, convenience, coffee, and climate will shape the foodscape
With the close of 2018, Nestlé USA is closing out an exciting year that included a cross-country headquarters move to Arlington, Virginia, our deal with Starbucks, the sale of our confections business, and the introduction of some exciting new brands and tastes to our portfolio.
But in our rapidly changing business, we have to look forward in order to meet the needs of our consumers. People’s tastes and preferences change like the seasons, and being consumer-led — as we are — means you have to keep your finger on the pulse of the people who buy our products.
This past fall, we commissioned Morning Consult, a market research company, to conduct a survey of more than 2,200 people across our diverse country to better understand the food trends that are driving our day-to-day lives. As the world’s largest food and beverage company, this information will help us deliver what you want, how you want it, in 2019 and beyond.
Based on that research, here are 5 food trends we are plugged into for 2019:
1. Coffee is where it’s at.
Nescafé. Nespresso. Starbucks. Blue Bottle. Chameleon. We have an unmatched portfolio of coffee brands, at a range of locations, serving styles, and price points (not to mention a splash of Coffee-Mate) that cuts across the whole spectrum of coffee and consumer needs. With that range, you get a clear picture of how we see coffee as one of the key trends of 2019. We are a leader in this category and will stay ahead of the curve in bringing consumers the best coffee, how they want it, and when they want it.
Innovation in coffee will be one of the trends we’ll be driving in 2019, and our survey shows that people are ready for new things. More than 1 in 3 people had tried or were planning to try on-the-go bottled coffee drinks, and on-the-move consumers tend to trend younger, with more than half of Gen Z trying bottled coffee drinks in 2018 or planning to in 2019.
With new launches like the Nescafé Coffee Protein Smoothie and Cold Whipped Latte, this category will be percolating with innovation in 2019. Our coffee survey earlier this year confirmed what we at Nestlé know well: Coffee is more than a drink; it’s a part of our life, and it makes the world better.
2. Taste will continue to be #1 in driving consumer choices, even as other priorities grow.
Consumers today have a growing interest in convenience, and they’ve never been more aware of the nutritional value and sourcing of the foods they eat. Yet our survey confirmed what many of you surely know through your daily lives: Taste matters most. Even as we’re balancing other priorities like nutrition and convenient, taste does not get compromised — we should be able to have it all.
When considering snacks to eat, for instance, 93 percent of respondents said flavor was most important. As a food company, we know this better than anyone, and we’re continuing to hold ourselves to higher and higher bars on taste. We all enjoy a variety of foods and snacks, and though we strive for healthy eating, we are not bound by the binary choice of taste or nutrition. Sure, you can enjoy a pint of Häagen-Dazs Trio Vanilla Blackberry Chocolate as an indulgence, but our Coffee-Mate Natural Bliss Honey shows how exceptional taste can arrive with less added sugar, too.
One Nestlé resolution I can share: We’re following our consumers’ wishes and will never sacrifice on taste. We’ll continue to elevate flavor while also innovating in every single area that’s important to our consumers.
3. Prepared and frozen foods will deliver new possibilities.
The prepared and frozen foods of the 1990s are child’s play compared with the wide-ranging cuisines available now. Our research on today’s trends shows that 70 percent of people cook at home using a combination of homemade and prepared dishes. Frozen and prepared foods invite more people to inject creativity into their meal plans and make culinary discovery a part of their lives. More than 4 in 5 people agree that combining homemade and prepared dishes allows them to experience new or different flavors, and the same percentage of respondents likes trying new foods.
Nestlé is obliging those willing to venture out. Our Sweet Earth brand, for example, offers a vegetarian Moroccan Tagine — a hearty stew featuring the flavors and spices of Morocco, garbanzo beans, sweet potatoes, red peppers, curry seitan, bulgur, almonds, raisins, cinnamon and cloves. And our Lean Cuisine Sesame Chicken combines sesame breaded white meat chicken with pasta, cut green beans, red peppers, and a savory plum sauce.
We are committed as a business to this category of food, which brings value and convenience to consumers and offers something special to your daily menu.
4. E-commerce and delivery trends will become bigger players.
The changing retail landscape and escalation of e-commerce truly are upending the old models of consumer behavior. Nestlé is growing quickly in this space and investing in the innovations that will shape purchasing in 2019 and the years that follow. We have been working closely with retailers on the in-store experience and click-and-collect models, and in 2018 Nestlé’s e-business sales grew at twice the rate of the industry. Virtual reality grocery shopping, for instance, very well may shape the future of retail, and it’s a future that Nestlé will help build, investing in growth-enabling e-commerce capabilities across the business.
Our survey illuminated how some of the shopping trends are changing consumers, and we expect this to continue on an upward trajectory in 2019. Though more than three-quarters of people go to the grocery store as their main way of buying food, about 1 in 5 people either get food purchases delivered at least once a week or order groceries online for pickup. An interesting nugget in the data: men are nearly twice as likely as women to favor online or delivery as an option.
5. Climate and sustainability will remain game-changers for younger consumers.
Nestlé is a leader in big and small ways in how we source our ingredients and make the changes that can change our industry to address issues that are important to our consumers. We won’t be able to connect with consumers on the impact of the food system, unless we do it through their lens, including around critical areas that impact their health and safety like climate change.
More than half of respondents (54 percent) said they have changed their eating or food purchasing habits because of climate change concerns. The younger generations, in particular, are on the watch and tuned in to what companies like Nestlé are doing. Generation Z is three times as likely as Boomers are to report changing their eating behaviors due to climate change.
At Nestlé, a wind-farm expansion this past spring will allow us to power our Pennsylvania factories with renewable energy that will reduce greenhouse gas emissions. We have expanded our plant-based food portfolio with Sweet Earth, as these foods can be produced with a reduced carbon impact. And Nestlé Waters installed a third wind turbine at our bottling facility in Cabazon, California, putting us on target to be 100 percent of our electricity from renewable energy.
As a company and as people, we have an enormous stake in what happens to the planet. And though we’ve been around for more than 150 years, we need a healthy planet and healthy people to keep creating exciting new products for the next 150 years.
A year ago, our Chief Strategy Officer Rui Barbas laid out the case for innovation at Nestlé amid what he called the most dramatic market shifts of the past 10 to 15 years, “from consumer habits, behavior, and engagement with brands to how goods are purchased.” To hyper-focus on our consumer, our business is changing. We’re driving a hybrid growth model, accelerating brands that are classic favorites as well as new investments, and shifting our culture to move with agility and take more risks. You can already see our growth in the market stemming from those changes, with brands like Coffee-mate, Häagen-Dazs, and Outshine.
From what we’re hearing from consumers today, 2019 will be another year of disruption, creation, innovation, and excitement in the food landscape. Consumers can change as quickly as they want, and we make it our mission to adapt to meet their every need.
One food trend of 2019 that I can be certain of: whatever consumers demand in the year ahead, Nestlé will be ready to deliver.
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