By Jared Scott, SMO, quench
Greater representation is lacking in the food and beverage industry, and Gen Z and Millennials are demanding change.
The food and beverage industry previously took a long, hard look at its ingrained attitude of exclusivity and tolerance when the #MeToo movement emerged, and the #BlackLivesMatter movement pushed back against brands exhibiting empty social media sentiment and actions.
Brands that are listening include Costco, which has committed millions toward the Black Economic Development Fund in an effort to close the racial wealth gap by encouraging corporations to make investments designed to improve economic opportunity for Black Americans.
Wellness is no longer an exclusive, top-shelf luxury reserved for those who can afford it. Inclusive nutrition is here. New brands and platforms, like Happy Family Organics and Target’s Good & Gather, are eliminating prohibitive cost barriers and developing luxury offerings for the mass market.
Despite these positive steps, experts believe an estimated one-third of small, independent farmers could go bankrupt this year, and one in every four U.S. restaurants will go out of business.
To alleviate the burden, brands and incubators like Mercato Partners’ investment fund, Savory, are offering funding for fragile businesses. Savory provides restaurateurs with numerous offerings such as financial support or supply chain technologies.
Almost two-thirds (64 percent) of all consumers want to reduce their carbon footprint. Companies have taken note, and are exploring ways to improve carbon-neutral practices, reimagining urban spaces for farming purposes, and using new technology to replicate or accelerate essential processes found in nature.
For example, Quorn Foods added carbon labeling to its food products. This effort positions carbon emissions as a health consideration, listing carbon footprint calculations alongside nutritional information.
A whopping two-thirds of the global population will live in cities by 2050 and sustainable farming is already occurring in urban dwellings. Just look up. Brooklyn Grange runs three rooftop soil farms in New York City, growing more than 36 metric tons of organic produce a year.
U.S. beekeepers lost 50 billion bees in 2019. To curb further population loss, the GIANT retail grocery company added a seven-acre, pollinator-friendly solar field to its corporate headquarters in Pennsylvania.
Automation technology represents a central component in the explosion of e-commerce, leading supermarkets to explore alternative fulfillment options. Micro-fulfillment offers grocers the ability to pick orders 10 times faster and more efficiently than human workers, while maintaining stores’ ability to serve local customers.
Companies such as Takeoff Technologies help retailers like Albertsons Companies, Wakefern Food Corporation and Ahold Delhaize with developing micro-fulfillment solutions and centers.
Phytonutrients are becoming an established part of consumers’ diets due to their health and wellness properties that assist with the prevention of chronic diseases.
The classification of specific phytonutrients using artificial intelligence will allow companies to facilitate the production of these products to support the explosion of consumer interest.
Algae is on the rise as a food ingredient, but the taste can use some help. Algenuity’s Chlorella Colours remove the microalgae’s unpalatable taste without reducing the nutritional content. The company’s partnership with Unilever Foods allows the company access to Unilever’s research and development facilities and will help Unilever in its commitment to accessible, plant-based products.
Forager Project identifies and classifies specific phytonutrients available from plants using its machine-learning algorithm. The company raised $27 million in its last round of seed funding for its first product, and currently has a partnership in place with Danone North America.
What do you see as the next big food trend?