The sustainable food industry has evolved rapidly in recent years. Growth in the global organic products market, for example, continued in 2018, with consumer demand for organic foods strengthening and sales of organic foods reaching more than 5% of retail food sales in the US.
This year is expected to be no different for sustainable foods. In fact, according to Ecovia Intelligence, 2019 will be an important year for the industry. The research and consulting company shared its predictions for the year ahead:
1. Mainstreaming of organic foods. Organic food sales will continue the positive trajectory, with distribution continuing in mass market retailers (supermarkets, hypermarkets, discounters).
Almost all such food retailers in Europe and North America are now marketing organic foods under their private labels, and those will continue to gain market share. In some countries, including Denmark (Coop) and Canada (Loblaw), the leading organic food brands are already retailer private labels.
2. Growing prominence of plant-based foods. With “Veganuary” barely underway, we have already seen the introduction of new fish-less fingers, chicken-less tenders, as well as omnipork make headway in Asia. Expect to see more plant-based product launches in retailers and foodservice establishments as veganism and ethical consumerism converge.
3. Reducing packaging impacts. Consumer concern about plastic pollution in oceans and landfills is putting pressure on food companies to address their packaging impacts. More organic and sustainable food companies are expected to move to biopolymers and other sustainable packaging materials.
Expect to see some disruptive innovation like EOSTA’s Natural Branding concept; the laser mark has saved 6.3 million pieces of plastic in the first year, Ecovia says.
4. Investments and acquisitions. More dedicated sustainable food enterprises are expected to be snapped up by large multinationals this year. Unilever recently acquired The Vegetarian Butcher; it previously bought leading organic food firms in Brazil and the UK.
More investment is expected into organic & sustainable food firms from the financial community.
5. Sustainability schemes and labels. The ethical labelling trend will continue as more such schemes are introduced, and as adoption rates rise. Some of the labels that are gaining popularity are Non-GMO Project, Vegan, and Gluten-free.
The market share of certified commodities will continue to rise. Over a third of all coffee, a quarter of cocoa, and almost a fifth of tea is already certified according to voluntary sustainability schemes. More companies are expected to adopt in-house sustainable sourcing schemes, following the lead of Starbuck (CAFÉ Practices), and Mondelez Foods (Harmony).
6. Ethical retail initiatives. The Dutch retailer EkoPlaza came under the spotlight in 2018 for introducing the first plastic-free aisles in its organic food supermarkets. Expect to see more natural and organic food retailers adopt plastic-free aisles, as well as zero waste retail concepts.
7. Growing power of millennials. Millennials are already some of the most avid buyers of sustainable and organic products; they will wield greater influence as their spending power continues to rise. As they buy more from online platforms, Amazon and other e-retailers will gain market share for sustainable products.