Connecting with consumers: Food trends for 2020

Consumers are changing their food-buying habits and adopting new attitudes toward food technology

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Consumer preferences are changing rapidly and the trends that are showing up illustrate those changes.

Nourish Network has identified nine food trends for 2020 that will also affect farmers, in everything from packaging to science and entertainment.

Why it matters: Consumer trends eventually filter down to farmers and the products they sell.

Jo-Ann McArthur, president of Nourish Food Marketing says that consumers want changes, but they look to food manufacturers and farmers to implement them. She’s connected in the Nourish Network with Kahntact Marketing and AdFarm, both agriculture marketing agencies, so a group that can connect the food conversation from farm to consumer.

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She says this year’s trends are all about how consumers see themselves.

Unpackaged me:

There’s a lot of consumer pressure around packaging, especially plastic. Five years ago that wasn’t the case, says McArthur, but now food retailers and restaurants are in full exploration mode to find alternatives.

They include TerraCycle’s Loop program which Loblaws will use for some of its President’s Choice products in 2020 and will include returnable containers.

Some restaurants are allowing customers to bring their own containers for take out.

Sober me:

McArthur says the Baby Boomer generation was a “boozy bunch”, and their children are doing something different, especially when it comes to alcohol. Beer sales have been declining and wine sales also declined for the first time last year. Bartenders are experimenting with creative non-alcoholic drinks.

Know me:

Personal Artificial Intelligence (AI) devices that focus on wellness are coming onto the market that will give advice based on DNA tests, including even while people are in the supermarket or are making eating decisions.

Save me:

Environmental impact is increasingly becoming a decision factor in people’s food choices, especially among younger people. Much of the decision is driven by climate change impact.

Science me:

Younger people appear to be more willing to accept food with scientific interventions, like genetic modification and food created through technology. That is combined with some increasing concern about foods like plant-based meat alternatives and how highly they are processed.

Entertain me:

In a new Longo’s supermarket in Toronto’s Liberty Village, people who live nearby in glass towers congregate, able to drink alcohol throughout the store and have a meal in the restaurant. McArthur says some people believe that those who spend much of their day in the digital world want some real world entertainment and they are finding some of that in shopping.

Keto me:

The Keto diet – where people focus on protein and limit their carbohydrates – continues to be the world’s most popular diet and McArthur says it does appear to be fading.

Nourish me:

Local food in hospitals and long term care homes has proved to be a positive, both from a nutrition and a financial perspective, says Jeanine Moyer of AdFarm. The nine facilities in the Serving Up Local project used more Ontario-produced product, increasing sales for Ontario farmers.

Near me:

Local is becoming hyper-local as urban farms are finding land and markets.

Teach me:

Consumers are far removed from farms, but they are interested in finding out more. They continue to trust farmers, so now is the time to make sure that trust continues.

About the author


John Greig

John Greig has spent his career in agriculture journalism and communications. He lives on a farm near Ailsa Craig, Ontario. Contact John at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @jgreig



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