As the industry starts to look forward to the food trends for 2024, it’s critical to reflect on where we stand with the forecasted trends that carried us into 2023.
Earlier this year, our top trend was “Redefining Value”, which appears to be shifting from a trend to an ongoing reality developers will have to consider going forward.
“If there is one thing that I have learned, it is that like sustainability, value is a word that can mean something very different to each individual,” says Anne Marie Butler, Global Director of Strategy & Innovation for Edlong.
She adds, “It can also mean something different today than it does tomorrow. Value can change through different stages of your life. You can see that health might impact it, having kids, as well as a myriad of other seemingly unrelated factors. Value doesn’t just cross different economic areas, it crosses everyone’s life differently.
As a result, pinpointing exactly how your target consumers are currently defining value might be more complicated than ever.
The layers of complexity only multiply when trying to assess value across regions, especially internationally.
While many major food industry trends continue to spread globally, a quick look behind the top-line numbers shows a more detailed picture of value and the understanding needed to develop for these different localities.
As plant-based moves from a perineal top trend to a mainstay in the food and beverage world, no one is questioning the necessity of addressing its growing demand.
With some estimates expecting the global market value to reach upwards of US$103.56 billion by 2027 (from US$39.42 billion in 2021), this is truly an international phenomenon.
This is made abundantly clear by the fact that even with the US making up roughly 18.5% (US$7.4 billion) of all sales, the #1 market was the Asia Pacific region, which made up over 40% of sales globally.
Moreover, the following chart shows how the perceived “value” of these products is impacting growth in different regions:
Regardless of how shocking these numbers may be, understanding how this translates to value-driven development demands an even deeper dive into the numbers.
Seeing the evident diversity of product demand by region illustrates just how nuanced “value” can be.
Still, if we take a closer look at another and often related trend, we see that it can go even deeper.
According to Innova’s Lifestyle and Attitudes Survey 2023, 75% of global consumers have taken at least some action over the past year to improve their health (#1 – Eating a healthy and nutritious diet at 43%).
To achieve this, 60% of global consumers said they try to eat a healthy snack at least once daily. However, A deeper look shows that Asia Pacific and Latin America consumers are more likely to always look for healthier snack alternatives at 74% to 70% each compared to Europe (52%) or North America (47%).
Furthermore, although all regions cited “A Balanced Diet” as a Top 3 reason for consuming healthier snacks, it was only the #1 reason in Europe. For Latin and North America, their main motivator was to “Feel Better Physically”, while Asia Pacific was primarily “For Nutritional Purposes”.
These consumer intentions might seem insignificant on paper but cannot go unconsidered in the development process.
Yet, these all come secondary to the universal criteria for evaluating value: taste.
You say Cheddar, I say Cheddar?
When discussing development across regions, Brenda Dehart, Edlong CFO & Integrator, stresses, “It’s about the authentic.”
She continues, “When we say Cheddar in the US the taste expectations are going to be very different from when those in the UK or Ireland say the same thing. This goes for italian variations of cheeses as well.”
For Dehart, while reading white papers and reports have their place, truly understanding the needs and nuances of different localities requires real regional presence.
“From the perspective of a CFO, this is why Edlong invests in having R&D centers embedded in those regions. It’s the only way to truly stay on top of the regional variations and local consumer profiles. It’s also how we are able to listen and respond to our customers.” She explains how crafting diverse and delicious flavor experiences starts with speaking the same language regarding taste.
“If someone says milky, grassy, creamy notes can mean different things to different people.
However, when we get our sensory department to look at the data behind it, that becomes like the Rosetta Stone for flavor. Making sure we are on the same page is why we open our doors to customers, because you can’t hit their targets if there is miscommunication.”
Although taste remains king, price continues to be a significant determiner of value, even more so in some regions.
Dehart adds how Edlong’s footprint and partnerships in various regions, along with an attention to logistics, allow us to work closely with our customers when they need it at a cost-effective rate.
About the Authors:
Brenda Dehart, Chief Financial Officer & Integrator at Edlong Flavor Solutions
Hi, I’m Brenda Dehart! I’m the Chief Financial Officer & Integrator at Edlong. With over 30 years of experience in the food and beverage industry, I help businesses grow, optimize, and find beneficial financial solutions. My extensive acquisition background alongside my managerial experience and understanding of food science has allowed me to support customers as they seek to stabilize and grow their businesses.
Your business’s next era of excellence is on the horizon. I’d love to help make it as successful as possible!
Anne Marie Butler, Global Director of Strategy and Innovation
I help food stakeholders from startups to CPGs solve complex flavor problems and accelerate innovation within the food space. Through my 15+ years of experience, I’ve gained skills as a food technologist, thought partner, and leader. My clients and team appreciate my collaborative, humanistic approach to problem solving. In an increasingly tech-centric world, I think that human connection is the source of innovation. Through my work, I’ve realized how important it is to be more proactive about inviting stakeholders into conversations around flavor innovation. I’m not working alone, and I don’t want to be thinking alone either.