To remain a leading grocery broker in the Southeast and best serve our clients, the team at Bay Food Brokerage is committed to staying up-to-date on retail food trends. In this post, two of our Account Executives, Greg Betz and Lindsey Baron, share their insights on:

  • Why it’s important for food manufacturers to understand retail food trends
  • How the right grocery broker partner can help manufacturers capitalize on these trends
  • Five retail food trends to watch in 2022

Why Food Manufacturers Need to Know Retail Trends

When it comes to food products, consumers’ preferences are always changing. Just because a product once flew off the grocery store shelves doesn’t mean it will always be popular. Food manufacturers need to keep their fingers on the pulse of retail food trends in order to stay relevant – and better yet, to stay ahead of the curve.

“Manufacturers should keep up on trends for future innovation,” Lindsey said. “Or, let’s say they’re playing around with an idea for a new concept. Then they’ll definitely want to know the latest trends and the direction consumers are headed with their preferences.”

Greg cited keto-friendly products as an example.

“A ketogenic diet has recently become very popular,” he said. “Whereas a little while ago you didn’t see any mention of ‘keto’ on food packaging, now we’re seeing a lot of brands come out with keto-friendly lines.”

How a Grocery Broker can Help Capitalize on Trends

The right grocery broker partner can help food manufacturers make smart decisions based on the latest retail food trends.

First of all, ideally, the grocery broker will have access to current data on these trends. For instance, at Bay Food, we partner with SPINS, a leading provider of big data and analytics for the natural, organic and specialty products industry. This data offers insight into up-and-coming categories, how clients’ products are performing compared to competitors and more.

“Understanding these trends makes us a better partner when our clients are developing products and formulating sales strategies,” Greg said. “For example, we recently helped a client work through designing packaging so that it highlighted attributes we know are important to consumers. This education and consulting resulted in a product that major retailers were interested in selling, because it showcased the attributes consumers are looking for right now.”

5 Retail Food Trends to Watch in 2022

Based on data provided by our technology/data partner SPINS as we start off 2022, here are five retail grocery shopping trends that manufacturers should be aware of. Consumers are indicating an increased demand for food products that are:

  1. Plant-based

Consumer demand for plant-based products continues to expand. And, it’s going beyond the plant-based burgers to also include alternative cheeses, ready-to-eat protein snacks and other categories.

“In the last five years, I’ve seen a significant expansion of plant-based items within categories like cream cheese and ice cream novelties,” said Lindsey. She’s a grocery broker who deals significantly in frozen and dairy products. “I expect this plant-based trend to continue long-term, as consumers recognize that these products taste good and are good for them.”

As another example, a recent report from SPINS shows that frozen breakfast items labeled “vegan” increased in sales 99% from October 2020 to October 2021.*

  1. Immunity-focused

The COVID-19 pandemic helped catapult immune-boosting products to the forefront of consumers’ minds. With increased focus on health and overall wellbeing, consumers are now looking for products with immune- and health-boosting ingredients.

“We’re seeing a lot of products right now touting immune-boosting properties, probiotics and collagen, especially in beverages,” Lindsey said.

As another example, recent SPINS data shows sales of refrigerated dressings with probiotic supplements increased 22% from October 2020 to October 2021.*

Also, Greg explained that research studies that show the health benefits of eating – or limiting or avoiding – certain foods will continue to influence buying behavior.

“Research continues to come out supporting health benefits related to things like immunity support and weight loss,” Greg said. “This is going to keep playing a role in what consumers look for in their food products.”

  1. Mission-based

Data shows that many supermarket shoppers are leaning toward brands that have a positive mission. For example, this could include brands that:

  • Are run by underrepresented communities
  • Focus on the wellbeing of their customers and workers
  • Strongly support nonprofits and even their own foundations

“If a customer is looking at two brands on the shelf, they may be more apt to pick the one doing something good for the community,” Lindsey said.

As a grocery broker partner to manufacturers, the team at Bay Food helps clients showcase their mission, if they have one.

“I think it’s a great idea for food brands to be mission-based,” Greg said. “It attracts customers and does great things for organizations and communities that need support.”

  1. Diet & Lifestyle Friendly

Consumers now expect a wide range of food products that align with their particular diet and lifestyle choices. According to grocery brokers Greg and Lindsey, popular attributes include:

  • Non-GMO
  • Organic
  • Keto-friendly
  • Plant-based
  • No artificial preservatives
  • Gluten-free
  • Lower-sodium
  • No trans fat
  • Health-additives (like immune boosting ingredients or collagen in waters)
  • Eco-friendly packaging, such as packaging made from recycled materials or is recyclable
  1. Showcasing Sustainability of Meat and Dairy

Many consumers are paying more attention to how manufacturers are producing the meat and dairy they buy. This ranges from how the animals are raised to the impact production has on the environment.

“Manufacturers that can showcase efforts to promote sustainability will gain a competitive advantage with discerning shoppers,” Greg said.

Attributes of meat and dairy that attract consumers include:

  • Grass-fed
  • Pasture-raised
  • Cage-free
  • Sustainable farming
  • Efforts to limit the carbon footprint

Are you looking for a grocery broker partner to help your product capitalize on the latest retail food trends? Contact us today to learn how we can serve you.

* SPINS Natural Enhanced Channel and SPINS Conventional Multi Outlet (powered by IRI) | 52 Weeks Ending 10-31-2021