05 July 2022

Our June Roundup: Future of plant-based, China’s Gen Z and resilience in our food system

Catch up with the news that caught our eye in June: China's Gen Z and their rising nationalism, the latest in plant-based news, how retailers are tackling pricing in the UK and building resilience in the global food system.

Christina Carè

Sevendots, London

4 minute read

Catch up on your June CPG news from the Sevendots team.  

The plant-based future of food doesn’t always taste that great 

From Vox

Is taste being compromised in the pursuit of new plant-based products to bring to market? Author Kenny Torrella explores concerns over a ‘glut of mediocre products’ flooding the plant-based sector, given his experience tasting a variety of sub-par plant-based samples. He mentions rising US per capita meat consumption and questions whether what consumers are being offered is actually good enough to encourage the switch to meat-free alternatives.

Sevendots Partner Miriam Mostarda says on this:

“While we are witnessing a worldwide growth of veganism and predictions for the future of plant-based has never been higher, some questions are emerging. Are we looking at a future of mimicking animal products or are consumers ready to make space for new taste experiences? In particular, what role is taste playing for companies pressured by investors to accelerate new product development? Is there a risk of alienating consumers with a poor taste experience?”

Miriam Mostarda

Torrella highlights taste as a top deciding factor – followed by ‘clean labels/recognizable ingredients’. With a lot of focus on this latter item, taste may well be overlooked. Torrella warns that this may turn potential consumers away too soon.

In short: With a lot of emphasis on creating new plant-based products, taste is falling behind other factors like novelty or clean labels. Will this alienate consumers who might be willing to make the switch?

Health concerns drive plant-based meat and dairy consumption, Euromonitor survey finds 

From Food Navigator

In this piece we get a reiteration of the importance of health as a decision-making factor for consumers who choose plant-based alternatives. Sevendots Partner Andrea Bielli says:

“The main consumer motivation for plant-based products remains health and wellness but sustainability is gaining traction indicating the need of a higher accountability for brands in this space that need to communicate more strongly their actions and KPI’s from the environmental perspective.”

Andrea Bielli

And furthering the discussion of the previous post, Andrea adds:

“The tension between the desire of mimicking animal-based products while keeping recipes with a healthy profile and a clean label is still there.”

Andrea Bielli

In short: Consumers still cite health as the main reason they look for plant-based alternative products. However, sustainability is growing in influence – an important element for brands to consider.

Edgewell Launching Fieldtrip, a Gen Z Skin Care Brand 

From Global Cosmetic Industry magazine

Edgewell Personal Care’s new range Fieldtrip is a unisex skincare brand targeting Gen Z consumers. The brand’s packaging is created using a bioplastic made from renewable items and recycled materials, as contains information about where ingredients are sourced. They’ve also partnered with Keep America Beautiful to help replant lost trees after natural disasters. It’s a range that fulfils several key Gen Z requirements: it’s inclusive, accessible, sustainable and affordable.

In short: In the words of Edgewell’s head of marketing and grooming, Gabrielle DeLatin, Gen Z ‘expect more than just functional benefits.’ Fieldtrip is intended to be socially responsible, sustainable and affordable, all at once.

How can the global agrifood system build resilience amid climate change? Look to Ukraine 

From AGFunder News

With all that is happening in Ukraine, this piece attempts to talk through how to build resilience in the global food system. Drawing links between the impacts of the war alongside the impacts of climate change, author Jennifer Marston highlights some of the ideas that have been suggested to improve how our food system responds in a crisis. This has come out of a roundtable discussion hosted by AGFunder News.

Some of the highlights include:

  1. Stress testing the food system to identify weaknesses
  2. Pushing the agrifood sector to take more of an active role in climate change conversations
  3. More focus on measurement of emissions
  4. Decreasing the world’s reliance on animal-based protein
  5. Encouraging innovation in indoor farming systems and boosting precision agriculture

There’s a video you can watch at the end if you want to see the whole conversation.

In short: In a roundtable discussion from AGFunder News, we find interesting ideas on building resilience in the agriculture industry, especially as a result of the war in Ukraine and climate change. A lot here to consider to help solve the world’s food system crises.

Savings and algorithms: UK supermarkets battle cost of living crisis

From Reuters

Investigation into how retailers are trying to limit the pain of growing prices in the UK. To summarize the situation:

UK grocery inflation hit 8.3% in June, a 13-year high, according to market researcher Kantar, forcing shoppers to cut back and buy cheaper ranges. U.S. bank Citi said UK food price inflation could hit 20% early next year.

Some methods taken include reducing the range of products on offer and utilizing algorithms to predict consumer needs when it comes to alternative products. Tesco remains the market leader, despite Kraft Heinz’ decision to stop supplying some products as the grocer resisted raising prices.

In short: Dealing with inflation and the war’s impacts on the supply chain, this piece examines what retailers in the UK are doing so far, from simplifying their range of products to examining consumer data to help predict demand.

China’s Gen Z Has the Power to Make or Break Western Brands 

From Bloomberg UK

In this piece, we see how China’s Gen Z are ‘shaking up shopping’. With over 270 million young people in this generation living in China now, they are vastly outspending previous generations. They also have a very particular approach to how they spend their money:

About a quarter of China’s Gen Z don’t save at all, compared with the global average of 15%, according to an OC&C report. They’re also more likely to be impulsive with their purchases. The term Moonlight Clan has been coined to describe people who spend their entire paychecks each month…

As nationalism in this young generation rises, impacts have already been felt for many Western brands. There are a lot of interesting take aways here, from the way Chinese cultural norms are playing out online and how the perception of quality in China is changing, and how all of this is impacting the way this generation shops.

In short: China’s Gen Z are more demanding than previous generations, and foreign brands are no longer synonymous with prestige as nationalism rises for young consumers. Brands are encouraged to prioritize innovation and memorable experiences, as well as empowering local Chinese teams who are better able to respond to local trends.

See also: The trailblazing consumers in Asia propelling growth from McKinsey

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