“Tell me what you eat and I will tell you what you are”
– Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin
Sustainability is Delicious
The rise of the conscious consumer brings with it an awareness of the vulnerability of the environment and food supply chain as well as increased education about health and nutrition. These have become driving factors in consumer food-purchasing decisions. Emerging food companies are fulfilling the hunger for sustainable foods. Their success, however, will be directly dependent on consumers understanding their values and actually buying into what they stand for.
Industry-wide, sustainable food companies share the same fundamentals and priorities.
ThoughtMatter uses a framework to highlight areas of opportunity through the lens of strategic brand-building. This approach is meant to help brands use their values to tell a compelling consumer story.
Shared Values. Compelling Stories.
Free the Animal
80% of consumers feel it’s important that the meat they eat is humanely raised.
Consumers are becoming conscious about not just what they eat but also the living conditions of what they consume. When it comes to animal farming, cruelty, nutrition and environmental impact have become top concerns of consumers when shopping for their choice of protein.
Consumers are met at the meat counter by soft, fluffy slogans with blurred messaging such as “free-to-roam,” “open-range,” and “cage-free.” Once those words had purchase. Now they are jargon. This vague similarity has caused consumers to become confused at what brands stand for. The need to educate consumers presents a unique opportunity for sustainable food brands to clearly define lingo, communicate their health, nutritional and environmental importance, and share a compelling story of brand values.
Rise of the Heirloom
87% of shoppers think non-GMO is healthier.
Due to rapid population growth and demand for perfect specimens, patented hybrid seeds, also known as genetically modified organisms (GMO’s), is the norm. But after decades, heirloom produce and grains have become the center of interest.
Consumers may be aware of heirloom products, but most don’t understand the benefits accompanying an imperfect appearance with a higher cost. Their genes, untouched by science, come with nutrition, taste, and environmental benefits. Educating consumers about heirloom products is key to introducing a whole new world of wholesome and delicious foods that were once enjoyed by generations before us.
91% of customers believe foods with recognizable ingredients are healthier.
There’s a relentless shift towards a clean story and clean labels having fewer ingredients — ingredients clearly sourced from whole foods. The two primary forces driving this movement are the technology-driven transparency of products and supply chains, and emerging generations who use their buying power to demand good behavior from companies. As a result, brands big and small are re-evaluating their ingredients.
Consumers are generally aware that foods with long, complex and unpronounceable ingredients are less nutritious. However, that is easy to overlook when displayed next to a flashy product with a lower price-tag. The fact is, consumers today will pay more if they know they’re getting more. Driving change in purchasing behavior is directly dependent on a brand’s ability to clearly showcase its values and ingredients.
Plants are Meaty
By 2020 meat alternative sales are expected to reach $5 billion
While meat rules, consumers are gradually catching on to the importance of healthier, more sustainable, more humane plant-based products. In fact, by 2050 the world’s population will grow to 9 billion, and with it, our appetite for meat. With limited space for animals and humans, the demand (and need) for plant-based foods will continue to grow.
The need for plant-based foods is here. The want, not so much. Customers understand the nutritional and ecological benefits of eating meat alternatives, but their lack of visual and taste appeal is a deterrent. Companies are creating new and innovative plant-based meat substitutes which look, smell, and even taste like the real thing. Food brands can attract new customers by using familiar cues from meat packaging and messaging. The context is also important; finding these products in the meat department reinforces their position as legitimate meat alternatives.
The Recycling Revolution
30% of U.S’s solid waste comes from product packaging.
Recycling, meet precycling. Although recycling is crucial to the future of the planet, it still contributes to pollution. From food to packaged goods, consumers are trending away from superfluous packaging.
Completely eliminating packaging from the customer journey is somewhat unrealistic, but food brands have the opportunity to create a new legacy. Food companies can gain a leading reputation in repackaging products in such a way it’s beneficial both to the environment and profit margins. Small changes can make huge impacts.
We live in an exciting time when, more than ever, people are passionate about what they eat and drink. Innovation is taking place both on the farm and in the store. Eco-conscious consumers are the new consumers, and as their needs continue to change and grow more complex, brands will need to navigate this new landscape with offerings going beyond the label.
Through clarity, education, awareness, and familiarity these small changes are profoundly impacting every aspect of life. We’re on the brink of a food revolution and sustainable food brands are leading the way.
You are what you eat, and what you eat matters.