Trade shows are back for 2022! After two years of turbulence, at times being fully grounded, everyone who stopped by to chat with us at our March industry events was happy to be back in-person. Yet while shows had been on hiatus, Food and Beverage Industry innovation had not stopped. From new boundaries being pushed in the alternative dairy space to a focus on sustainability and getting creative with new supply chain limitations. Here are the key takeaways from the March Food and Beverage Industry events we attended!
Future Food Tech (FFT)
San Francisco | March 24-25, 2022
With over 1,600 industry leaders in attendance, the 2022 Future Food Tech show was the place to be for those on the cutting edge of the F&B industry’s innovation curve.
While plant-based continues to be a hot topic still with room for innovation, we also saw it as an evolving landscape, with new frontiers ahead for the alternative dairy space. In fact, many of the people who stopped by our booth to inquire about what our dairy-free flavors could do for them were, in fact, asking about how they could help improve the taste of their culture- or fermentation-based products. Our onsite R&D expert Anne Marie Butler at the show even hit on this trend as part of the Alternative Proteins: Recreating the Entire Sensory Experience of Animal Products panel.
The expert panel she participated in brought forward a few key themes that food and beverage manufacturers will need to do to succeed in the future:
- Taste is King. Focus on taste, masking and creating balance will be more essential than ever as we move into the future of alternative dairy.
- Cost is Queen. Without affordability, nothing else matters.
- Sustainability is here to stay.
- Collaboration will be key to success.
- Animal protein is not going away. One big shift that’s coming where is there seems to be a lot of opportunity, driven by an increase in flexitarians and a demand for sustainability in the food supply chain, is where we have products that may be mostly plant-based but then have a small amount of animal in it as well.
- We are still just scratching the surface of what plants can do for us in our diets.
- Replication facilitates the innovation that is coming. There are also so many opportunities to optimize consumer liking instead of matching specific profiles.
The 2022 RCA Conference
Atlanta, GA | March 23-25
“The RCA Conference is the place to see the latest trends in culinary arts, food sciences and product development,” according to their website – and after attending in March, we agree! The Research Chefs Association’s 2022 RCA Conference was a celebration of the event’s 25th Anniversary.
Some reoccurring themes at this show, many of which echoed those of the FFT show, included:
- Sustainability. From reducing carbon footprints to repurposing ingredients that used to be discarded and upcycling ingredients, F&B companies are seeking – and finding – ways to develop more sustainable products.
- Innovation is roaring back to life, but it looks a little different. From a foodservice perspective, there is more innovation than ever focused on what else can be done with ingredients operators already have in-house. This new trend of cross-utilization not only helps them with inventory management but also reduces supply chain challenges.
- Consumers are craving heat. There seems to be a global trend towards ‘hot and spicy’ with more complex flavors impacting global menus – a progression from simple hot sauce and buffalo wings to different chili types, dishes and the emergence of spice in dairy.
- Taste > Nutrition. While when questioned consumers highlight health as a key driver in choice, buying habits and market data shows that Taste remains King. In fact, consumers are shown to accept less ‘clean’ labelling if the taste is right.
- Hybrid “flexitarian” products are on the rise. One of the biggest market opportunities right now is products that reduce reliance on animal-based products without being strictly vegetarian, vegan, or plant-based.
Recapping March Food & Beverage Industry Events
At both March Food and Beverage Industry events, Edlong’s featured Brown Butter-Style Fudge demo went quickly as participants enjoyed a truly indulgent, yet completely dairy-free, brown butter-style fudge that melted creamy and sweet in the mouth.
Both events showed that sustainability, taste, and affordability are going to be key elements for food and beverage manufacturers to get right in the coming years – and collaboration is one key way to do so.
Interested in getting a taste for yourself of how Edlong’s dairy-free flavors and sweet flavors can elevate your next product? Make sure to reach out to our global R&D team today to start collaborating!