04 April 2023

Our March Roundup: lab-grown dairy, AI-enabled personalization and FemHealth opportunities for CPG

In this month's CPG news roundup, we cover lab-grown dairy, AI-enabled personalization, defining Gen Alpha and big brands pulling the plug on plant-based products.

4 minute read

Welcome to another roundup with the news you need to know from the CPG industry this month. Let’s catch up on what’s been happening…

Nestlé pulls plug on plant-based Garden Gourmet, Wunda brands in UK, Ireland

From JustFood

Nestle has made the interesting move of reassessing several of its plant-based brands, withdrawing Garden Gourmet meat-free and Wunda pea-milk brands in the UK and Ireland. Coca-Cola also announced it would withdraw its Innocent range of plant-based dairy drinks in the UK. Innocent announced the news in humorous fashion via Twitter here.

The argument has been that the category is losing steam, with taste and quality concerns cited as key issues, as well as confusion surrounding many similar brands all trying primarily to mimic animal-based products, as well as confusion around the target audience. All this, it has been suggested, may have led to issues serving the right consumers in the right ways.

Sevendots Partner Colin McAllister says of this news:

‘It doesn’t sound good for the largest food manufacturer and largest beverage company in the world to “pull the plug” on two recent investments in the plant-based space, even if limited in terms of geographic scope. The pressure on short term financial returns that large companies are feeling, particularly in the last year, leads to a situation where true innovation is left in the hands of bold start-ups.’

Colin McAllister

See also this article in JustFood, discussing the initial announcements.

Moooove over: How single-celled yeasts are doing the work of 1,500-pound cows

The Washington Post

While lab-grown meat is still on its way, lab-grown dairy has already arrived, says this piece from the Washington Post. To quote:

The rapid advancement in this area has sparked hope for a revolution in the dairy industry, and not just because it’s kinder to the cows. Precision dairy doesn’t have cholesterol, lactose, growth hormones or antibiotics (though those with dairy allergies should beware). And cattle, for beef or dairy, is said to be the No. 1 agricultural source of greenhouse gases worldwide. Consumers concerned about climate change or animal welfare have been anticipating the U.S. launch of cultivated meat, which is grown in labs from animal cells, but cultivated dairy could have just as much of an impact on the environment — with fewer regulatory hurdles to clear.

Many brands have begun to make this exciting innovation more tangible, and the array of products is only growing. On this, Sevendots partner Eugenio Perrier points out:

‘It’s interesting to see how the biggest claims from brands so far are those that “negate being something” as opposed to affirming what the product is. I would not be surprised if this triggers the opposite reaction, with people searching for the “real”, authentic experiences instead – and indeed some signals of this are already emerging.’

Eugenio Perrier

You can find some in our latest piece on the trends that emerged from Expo West in March.

Scoop: HelloFresh drops coconut milk from Thailand over monkey labor allegations

From Axios

Pressure mounts against HelloFresh to stop selling coconut milk source from Thailand over monkey labor allegations. Retailers such as Walmart, Costco, Target and Kroger have already stopped carrying coconut milk from certain Thai suppliers.

Thailand currently has 80% of market share for coconut milk in the U.S, however, PETA’s investigations into animal exploitation has revealed profound mistreatment. This is just another in many examples of where ‘sustainability’ and the future of our food system is coming under increased scrutiny, with social and moral dimensions increasingly important to the overall reassessment of supply chains for both retailers and manufacturers.

AI Unleashes Hyper-Personalization, Hyper-Relevance

From CMO Council

In this piece, AI-enabled personalization is examined as the potential to bring out the promise of one-to-one marketing at scale. This takes many forms, from recommendations and ads based off previous purchases and online behavior, through to smart chatbots which are able to tailor conversations to individual customers and provide relevant assistance.

Introduced here is the concept of the ‘high-velocity data marketer’ as “a marketing organization that can quickly acquire real-time, relevant data signals; produce data insights that detect sudden disruptions in customer and market behavior; and close the gap between data and insights, insights and action.”

Herein lies the challenge for brands: this requires better understanding of AI and machine learning, use across touchpoints, and connecting the technology with providing real customer value.

The FemHealth Insights Report 2023: the Femtech Landscape

From FemHealth Insights

While this report is not explicitly about the CPG industry, it does outline an opportunity that the CPG industry could benefit from. In particular, the report argues that FemHealth is still underdeveloped.

Big growth is expected particularly in the menopause segment, which is predicted to be one of the fastest growing segments with a projected revenue at USD $24 billion by 2030.

Currently, half of CPG FemHealth products focus on menstrual health, and digital health is also dominated by fertility and maternal health. This leaves room for a lot of opportunity.

I’m Gen Alpha, and I think adult marketers should stop trying so hard to define us

From Fast Company

An interesting response from a Gen Alpha to a recent report from Morning Consult entitled ‘A Brand’s Guide to Gen Alpha’. It points out several strange statistics presented here, and to quote one particularly outraged moment:

One part says that 11% of Gen Alpha owns a VR headset, and 17% of this group spend more than seven hours a day in VR. Seven. Hours. Seven hours is more than the average school day. Does this kid have a full-time job in the metaverse? How is this even possible?

It’s a valid observation, and in all, this response reminds us not to assume generational differences too hastily.

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