More 2015 food-bev trends: from food safety to cloud computing

This trend briefing, compiled by Food Engineering and sponsored by B2B cloud platform provider, Covisint Corporation of Detroit, Mich, outlines some of the main food and beverage trends happening now and that are expected throughout 2015 that will affect your business. It also touches on how cloud technology can leverage them to generate higher levels of success. The trends are organized into two categories: industry and consumer.

Food safety: The rising number of recalls and human infections from tainted food will continue to drive tighter regulations on how food is produced and distributed. Food safety reporting and auditing requirements driven by GFSI-certified bodies, FSMA, CFIA, and other organisations will increase, adding cost and complexity to food manufacturer operations.
Consolidation: Driven by higher costs, lower margins, and increasing competition, mergers and acquisitions among producers and retailers will continue as a means for them to expand in a cost-effective manner while increasing their competitiveness.
Sustainability: Reductions in C02, energy, solid waste, water and chemicals, and an increase in the use of renewable resources, will continue to drive corporate policy in companies that not only want to do the right thing, but that also want to be seen doing it.
Innovation: Technical advances and new ways of working inside a food or beverage plant to drive down costs and increase output will continue to accelerate. Meanwhile, companies will continue to develop new food and beverage products and the packages they come in. Recent examples such as Soylent complete liquid meals in a glass, and biodegradable and even edible packages will inspire and be followed by other innovations.
Food fraud: The incidence of food fraud will not abate, but regulators will continue to ramp up efforts to crack down on the rising number of companies that misrepresent the food they produce, both at home and abroad.
Convenience: As lifestyles continue to become more fastpaced, particularly in cities, consumers want to nourish themselves as easily and as quickly as possible, meaning spending less time in the kitchen or supermarket. They will continue to look for foods that taste good and are easy and quick to prepare.

Connecting through the cloud: These are but a sampling of the trends involving food today and throughout the coming year. There are many more, and each one deserves thought in how it is affecting your business, and how it can be leveraged. Cloud technology is a powerful tool that can help do that. Cloud technology is well suited to serving the needs of today’s food and beverage industry, because it connects myriad people with common interests seamlessly and securely across entire value chains and networks.
For instance, a B2B cloud platform can be used by retailers to place orders to their suppliers automatically as inventory levels dictate to prevent stock-outs. It can be used by bottlers to automatically order, pay for, and track syrup and other ingredients from the food and beverage companies they are affiliated with as well.
On the foodservice side, consumers can connect with restaurants to find out where the ingredients used in their favourite dishes came from and how they were grown, as well as their overall nutritional and health benefits. The cloud can connect partners, such as franchisees to their brand owners when gathering and reporting selling trends, customer feedback, brand loyalty, and other information.
For producers, it can greatly simplify complex and time-consuming GFSI-based food safety audits. It can also make information available to global suppliers around the clock in multiple languages.
For all these reasons and more, the cloud is something that is not only here to stay, but also indispensable, because it has the power to streamline a food or beverage business and make it run faster and more efficiently, while leveraging the trends that surround it.
Nutrition: Health and fitness continues to be a primary focus when it comes to food. Consumers want to know what they’re eating and how it affects their bodies. Labels are part of this, as are electronic networks able to stream information to shoppers wanting to make healthy choices in the grocery aisle. Home cooking with wholesome ingredients is making a comeback. Recipe suggestions from manufacturers, retailers, and cooking shows are getting increased attention.

Sugar and its connection to obesity continues to be a concern, with other negatives being trans fats and GMOs. Protein, particularly from vegetables as opposed to meat, is gaining momentum, and demand for organics and food grown locally will continue to increase.
Convenience: As lifestyles continue to become more fast paced, particularly in cities, consumers want to nourish themselves as easily and as quickly as possible, meaning spending less time in the kitchen or supermarket. They will continue to look for foods that taste good and are easy and quick to prepare.
Clear labels: According to Innova Market Insights, consumers, retailers, regulators and the industry are all driving more transparency in labeling, especially when it comes to claims of “naturalness” and origins of foods.
Millennials: These are people aged 15 to 35 who were born and grew up in the online era. They currently account for one-third of the global population and, because they have an impact on future trends, deserve watching. They’re used to being engaged through technology, are less brand loyal than older consumers, and can be swayed in favour of products that project a “story” along with a distinctive, even offbeat, brand identity.
Value: Price continues to be a prime factor in purchase decisions. Comparison shopping will get more intense.
Flavour: According to the 2014 McCormick Global Flavor Forecast, people are in the mood to explore new, more exciting flavours. Higher on the list than before are foods with more heat, such as those containing chilies and various curries, such as Masala. Tastes are tweaking to more Indian, Mexican, and Brazilian fare.
Eating out: This is an activity that consumers will continue to support, and that restaurants will continue to benefit from, as long as the economy remains robust. Menus will continue to reflect general needs and preferences of consumers, meaning high-quality, tasty, and nutritious offerings will continue to increase. As in other sectors, price will factor into decisions on where to dine out, as will the Internet.
Food waste: As more stories appear in the media about the enormous amounts of food we throw out, consumers will be more selective in what and how much they buy with a view to cutting waste and saving money.
Source: Food Engineering; Covisint Corp