06 September 2022

Our August Roundup: food trends for 2023, shrinkflation and alternative fats

In our August roundup, we explore the nonalcoholic drink trend, as well as general food trends for 2023, alternative fat production, why sustainability is no longer sufficient, and consumer concern over 'shrinkflation'.

Christina Carè

Sevendots, London

5 minute read

Welcome back to another monthly roundup!

Ben & Jerry’s partners with Tony’s Chocolonely to end modern slavery in chocolate

From FoodDive

Unilever’s Ben & Jerry’s has partnered up with Tony’s Chocolonely to work towards ending modern slavery and child labour in the chocolate industry. It’s a match made in heaven for these two brands, who both centre their social purpose in their brand strategy. The collaboration takes Ben & Jerry’s mission a step further, adopting Tony’s Chocolonely’s 5 Sourcing Principles that look for a fully traceable cocoa supply chain, proper pricing to address poverty amongst producers, and more.

Sevendots Partner Miriam Mostarda had this to say about the announcement:

“A perfect match that not only strengthens the equity of both iconic brands from a business perspective, but demonstrates that true and authentic purposes have the power to unite brands towards a common goal – rather than divide them.”

Miriam Mostarda

In short: A great collaboration based on a shared purpose can do so much to unite brands – and create great outcomes for people and the planet. In this announcement, Ben & Jerry’s will work alongside Tony’s Chocolonely to increase transparency and sustainability in its chocolate supply.

Regenerative ag at heart of food trends for 2023

From Farm Progress

In this quick roundup of upcoming trends, Regenerative Agriculture takes centre stage for 2023. More specifically, predictions here include greater clarity on labelling, the push for spicy foods, and a greater interest in ‘mood food’ – foods that include THC or psilocybin. This is a neat summary of interesting trends on the horizon for the food industry.

In short: A quick summary of 2023 food trends. It doesn’t get simpler than that!

How ‘Shrinkflation’ Is Affecting Grocery Shoppers

According to Morning Consult, 79% of adults in the US said that they were making a special effort to save money while grocery shopping, and 64% felt worried about the phenomenon of shrinking product sizes as prices remain the same or even increase – a phenomenon dubbed ‘shrinkflation’. Only 25% of adults said they had not noticed shrinkflation in any grocery category.

Morning Consult found that when faced with shrinkflation, 48% of shoppers opted to buy a different brand, with 49% saying they instead chose a generic brand.

How can brands address these concerns from consumers, who are noticing price and product changes? In the words of Sevendots Partner Andrea Bielli:

“Inflationary pressure is forcing brand owners to cope with consumers changing attitudes and behaviours. Besides working on price management, pushing transparent communication and showing empathy can play a strong role in keeping consumer engaged and develop long term demand.”

Andrea Bielli

In short: Only 19% of consumers surveyed by Morning Consult will avoid taking action against shrinkflation – the phenomenon whereby products shrink in size or weight, despite prices staying the same or increasing. This requires active management by brands as consumers become more willing to turn to alternatives in response.

‘More oblique than direct’: How brands benefit from extensions into adjacent categories

From Marketing Week

Using the example of Heinz entering into the frozen aisle, this piece form Marketing Week picks up on the possibilities of established CPG brands moving into adjacent categories. While there’s good potential with such a move – creating a good buzz for an original offering, or taking advantage of brand penetration elsewhere – the article also examines potential limitations. The big takeaway is that credible stretching that won’t damage a brand’s reputation starts from what a brand is already good at, building on a “core competency”.

In short: Food companies that stretch into new categories don’t always last, but there are definite benefits and opportunities to this that can be worthwhile for established brands. The key is to start with the “core competency” of a brand and work from there.

Has Everyone Stopped Drinking?

From Vogue

This piece form Vogue is a deep dive into the increasing trend of nondrinking and sobriety that is pushing consumers towards non-alcoholic beverages. With Gen Z the most likely generation to go teetotal, there is discussion about why avoiding alcohol is becoming so popular, as well as a discussion of the push for functional beverages – including the trend of adding adaptogens or CBD to your drink. It’s an interesting insight into why no-alcohol has become such a trend.

In short: Exploring the behind-the-scenes of consumer decision making when it comes to alcohol content in beverages. The push for better health post-Covid drives up the desire for functional beverages and non-alcoholic alternatives.

Efficiency is not the same as sustainability: where the E of ESG in agriculture is lacking

From AgFunder News

In this opinion piece, a fifth generation farmer unpacks the idea efficiency that is driving so-called ‘sustainability efforts. The author argues that greater efficiency of resource use is not the same thing as achieving a more sustainable outcome, and explores the problem with dependence on growing particular crops in particular areas that are not well suited. To quote:

‘Instead of pushing thinly-supported sustainability claims that could mislead investors, consumers, and regulators, discussions should be framed around responsible practices, with references made to resource usage benchmarks that can demonstrate more than just good intentions.’

In short: Author Ben Palen unpacks whether the push for greater efficiency in agriculture really does anything for sustainability and concludes that there ought to be a bigger push for responsible growing of crops in the right locations, rather than trying to garner more efficiency from a particular piece of land.

Sustainability is the wrong goal for businesses that care about climate change

From Quartz

Quartz interviews Adrian Rodrigues, co-founder of an investment bank Provenance Capital Group in San Francisco, who argues that ‘sustainability’ is no longer sufficient as a business goal. Instead, regeneration is where it’s at – a view that echoes our own take in our perspective on regenerative economies. In Rodrigues’ words:

This notion of “let’s focus on sustainability” isn’t the right mentality, because we’ve degraded our systems. If we just sustain them where they are, they’re not going to be resilient.

PCG focuses on helping farmers get access to finances, in the hopes of moving the needle on current practices, as less than 1% of US farming is currently regenerative. With nearly 100 million acres of farmland likely to change hands from one generation to the next in the next few years, Rodrigues is hopeful:

The millennial generation is projected to inherit an estimated $41 trillion from the baby boomer generation over the next four decades. That’s more cumulative wealth that has ever changed hands in history. It’s no surprise that the new generation is less focused just on return optimization. They want a more holistic scorecard: What are their investments doing, not just from a financial perspective, but from a social environmental perspective as well?

In short: The push for ‘regeneration’ over mere ‘sustainability’ has begun. Financing has begun to reflect the need for more just ‘sustaining’ current levels – there now must be improvement on outcomes. As investors make their move to redefine what agriculture looks like, there is room here for businesses to shift strategic thinking.

Producing Alternative Fats through Fermentation

From SpringWise

In a kind of follow up to a fats-focused piece in our last roundup, this piece talks through the efforts to recreate fats that are often missing in plant-based meat and dairy alternatives. Yali Bio is one such startup working on precision fermentation, a process whereby modified microbes are places in bioreactors and fed sugars to produce fat molecules that are similar to those from animal products. It’s an exciting innovation that hopes to address the issues that impact taste, sustainability credentials and health outcomes of non-meat alternative products.

In short: Last month we had a call for better alternative fats. In this piece, we get an insight into some of the efforts to address this problem – through precision fermentation, tackling taste, nutrition and carbon footprint.

Read more: On the same note, Impossible Foods has reformulated its plant-based ground beef in an effort to address nutritional concerns, one of the big motivators behind consumers turning to plant-based alternatives.

Is Coca-Cola’s marketing team okay?

From Creative Bloq

This piece takes a critical look at the range of new flavours from Coca-Cola, which includes ‘abstract’ flavours like ‘Starlight’, ‘Byte’ and the newest, ‘Dreamworld’. This flavour apparently “bottles up the technicolour tastes and surrealism of the subconscious”.

While this has created some controversy amongst consumers, it certainly has garnered some buzz. Sevendots Partner Richard Leong had this to say:

“These products demonstrate a distinct departure from the past – no longer bound by heritage and legacy, Coca-Cola has made moves towards a fresh, creative and culture-led approach to engage with Gen Z”.

Richard Leong

In short: Despite confusion from some, the release of new flavours demonstrate that Coca-cola is willing to branch out beyond its heritage in order to engage with young consumers.

That’s it for another month. Let us know what caught your eye this month, over on LinkedIn.

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Christina Carè

Sevendots, London