Food Retail Trends Ahead for 2018

Packaged Facts outlines key opportunities in the new year.

From cereal beyond breakfast to the evolution of cheese to probiotic breads, expect to see food trends evolving in 2018.

Today’s food retail trends will shape the industry for years to come, and retailers know it. In the brand new report U.S. Food Market Outlook 2018, market research firm Packaged Facts examines and forecasts how current trends across 14 food retail categories will influence growth through 2022.

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Here are five of the most intriguing trends and opportunities identified in U.S. Food Market Outlook 2018:

Cereal reimagined: Marketers will continue to make their existing big cereal brands as healthy as possible, although many new products will still be focused on indulgence and decadence. Next generation innovation will focus on expanding use of cereal in new ways, and experimenting with ingredients and processes to enhance nutrition. Don’t be surprised to see marketers creatively repositioning cereal into other products and meals beyond breakfast.

Emphasis on chocolate as “food” not “candy”: Can chocolate build a reputation as a healthy snack choice rather than merely as a satisfying indulgence for America’s sweet tooth? Marketers are betting on it.

David Sprinkle, research director for Packaged Facts, noted “Chocolate companies are increasingly jumping on the better-for-you snacking trend, which leverages frequency of snacking by Americans with a balanced approach to nutrition that explores realistic options rather than a more dogmatic philosophy that forbids snacks or sweets altogether.”

The key will be creating healthier, more nutritious chocolate “foods” that don’t sacrifice the all important taste component.

Ecommerce market for meal and snack bars deepens: Although online sales for meal and snack bars are relatively small, they are expected to increase with the advent of online grocery shopping, which allows consumers to receive bars and other foods without having to browse store shelves. The convenience of online grocery shopping is especially appealing to Millennials and families with small children, as they often have busy schedules and do not have time to plan and shop for groceries.

The continued evolution of cheese: America’s love affair with cheese is both deepening and evolving. Consumers increasingly want healthier, better-for-you cheese that isn’t only low in fat or sodium, but is fresh, organic and made from healthier milk. Today’s busy consumers also demand convenience and manufacturers continue to offer products and packaging that are easy to use and store, and are portable. Cheese manufacturers are capitalizing on the snacking and on-the-go eating trends with a slew of new products in special cuts, sizes and packs. Packaged Facts forecasts innovation will continue to maximize the experience of eating cheese with unique takes on flavor and indulgence, craftsmanship and authenticity, and health and nutrition.

Bread baked for digestive health: With the increased focus on their potential, probiotics have become one of the biggest trends today in the food and beverage industry. Nonetheless, the food industry itself hasn’t figured out how best to market probiotic food and beverages, beyond yogurt and similar traditional sources. But that is changing, at least in the bread industry. For instance, Orlando Baking’s True Grains was one of the first lines of probiotics breads in North America. The Cleveland-based company partnered with the Cleveland Clinic in association with the clinic’s Go! Well for Healthy Eating initiative to develop the products. True Grains Seed’licious bread is made with probiotic cultures to promote digestive health, and features flax seed, sunflower seeds, chia seeds, and millet for a good source of Omega 3. Packaged Facts expects to see an expansion of probiotic breads in the coming years.