Meet your customers where they are in your 2022 planning by providing meal kits, healthier frozen meal assortments and better-for-you delicatessen options that take some guesswork out of mealtime.
A new year is approaching, and with that comes a fresh look at food strategies and trends that will be the focal point of the next 12 months. The upcoming year will continue to build on consumers’ omnichannel path to purchase and the even bigger headway being made in retailer e-commerce. Products and services that align with on-trend 2022 nutrition themes include unique ingredients, a continued enthusiasm for plant-based options and purposeful eating, foods for weight management, and easing stress at mealtime.
Consumers are taking notice of ingredient buzzwords on foods and beverages at the supermarket. Popular core ingredients like oats, mushrooms and cauliflower, along with enhancers like turmeric and hibiscus, grace the panels of products designed to improve nutrition, offer health-promoting effects like reducing inflammation or increase flavor. Beverage options at retail have grown exponentially, particularly functional shelf-stable beverages from April 2020 to April 2021, according to SPINS sales data, perhaps as consumers sought to ramp up protection against COVID-19. Predictions are that this category will remain steady or continue to gently pick up speed in 2022, predominantly online. These drinks include the addition of prebiotics, probiotics, vitamins, minerals, protein, fiber, botanicals and other bioactive compounds.
Healthy eating strategies undoubtedly have a spot in consumers’ baskets heading into the new year, as underscored by the relentless growth of plant-based foods and “eating with a purpose.” Around 30% of Americans classify themselves as “flexitarian” or semi-vegetarian, while a recent survey from the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication and Earth Day Network found that 94% of respondents said they’re willing to eat more plant-based foods. Julie Emmett, senior director of retail partnerships for the Plant Based Foods Association, cites health as being a primary driver of growth, along with food safety and overall plant-based food innovation. Other attractive attributes include food purchases that support a greater good, such as fair trade, sustainable, Certified B Corporation, and foods that donate part of their proceeds to charitable organizations.
Consumer food purchases are often motivated by efforts to lose weight, and this upcoming new year will be no exception. The hope is that cutting calories is the natural byproduct of better ingredients in private- and national-brand offerings. Encourage your R&D teams to adjust product formulations by lowering added sugar, reducing added oils, bulking up fruit and vegetable content, and/or ensuring adequate fiber content. This will not only appeal to shoppers’ interest in “clean labels,” but also to their waistlines.
The world always seems like it’s in fast-forward. This includes the time we dedicate to obtaining, preparing and consuming food. Meet your customers where they are in your 2022 planning by providing meal kits, healthier frozen meal assortments and better-for-you delicatessen options that take some of the guesswork out of mealtime. Urge consumers to find products in your stores that can be adapted for multiple food preferences or intolerances, such as premade pizza crusts to build a customized homemade pizza, or heat-and-eat veggie patties for crafting different sandwiches or tossing into a loaded power bowl.
In preparation for the new year, gather your company’s team of retail dietitians, category managers and merchandisers to brainstorm practical ideas unique to your retailer’s goals that promote appropriate trendy ingredients, plant-based and purpose-driven eating, weight-loss-friendly options, and stress-free meals.