How Food Trends Challenge Manufacturers

Plant based food, healthy hedonism or snackification are just some of the food trends that are currently influencing the way we eat and what ends up on our dinner tables. Often, these trends spread quickly on social media channels, gaining global reach. But where do food trends actually come from and what do they mean for food safety?

The culture of dining develops within a society. But when society changes, be it due to political, climatic, technical or cultural factors, then the culture of dining also changes. Currently, food trends are being driven by factors such as globalization, increased environmental awareness and the desire for greater transparency in food production. Austrian diet scientist Hanni Rützler summarizes the current trends in her annual food report and explains the influence they have on both consumers and the food industry.

"Glocalization" of food

It's not about globalization or localization, it's about "glocalization". Although "global local food" sounds contradictory, the term describes how local food cultures are shaped by global influences. Take for example, tapas, a product that is not only consumed in Spain but also in many other European countries. In addition, increased environmental awareness has led to the demand for local products. As a result, international dishes such as tapas or sushi are being refined with local and seasonal ingredients.

Safe environment, safe food

However, the effects of increased environmental awareness are even greater. Today, people want to know where their food comes from, what their food contains and how it was produced. Therefore, transparency is playing a major role in the food industry and the food supply chain. Nowadays, good labeling is no longer enough to convince the consumer of the quality of the product. Instead, consumers want to see how the product is made. Many producers are preparing for full disclosure of their processes because they know: A customer who understands how the food is made would rather buy these products than those whose production steps he does not know. Therefore, it is not uncommon that producers give insights into their production processes, be it through videos, case studies or lectures.

Consumers not only prefer environmentally friendly production processes, but also value environmentally friendly packaging solutions. This poses a challenge for many producers, as natural foods in particular have to be packaged in a way to prevent them from spoiling during distribution. A valuable material that protects products from spoiling and dirt is plastic. However, plastic is anything but environmentally friendly which is why governments are starting to regulate plastic consumption in some places. Food manufacturers must find new ways to pack their food safely and environmentally friendly at the same time.

As many food trends are based on consumer behavior, it is up to the food producers to understand their consumers in order to meet food safety challenges. The biggest challenge, though, is keeping up to date: As fast as food trends change, so does consumer behavior.