So here we are. Just days away from the mythical 2020 that we’ve all been eyeing for years. I’m a little disappointed about the complete lack of a moon colony, but I’ll get over it.
Anyway, this is it folks. It’s officially time to move all our “future predictions” to a new mythical number, “2030.”
It’s so shiny and bright, guys! What will that future look like 10 years from now? Will blockchain actually be able to tell us about the farmer who grew the sugar in our chocolate bars? Will we finally get that food hydrator promised to us in Back to the Future 2? And will everything come with a side of CBD?
Mintel seems to think we can be hopeful about what’s to come in the next decade. But maybe I’ve been spending too much time on Twitter, because I’m not quite as convinced.
Specifically, Mintel predicts three key changes it expects to shape the food and beverage industry over the next 10 years:
- Change, Incorporated: Successful companies will be those that improve the health of the planet and its population.
- Smart Diets: Technology will enable consumers to construct hyper-individualized approaches to physical and mental health.
- High-tech Harvests: Consumer trust in food science and technology will strengthen as these become vital tools to save the food supply
“Health.” Technology.” “Consumer trust.” “Diets.” “Smart.”
Those all sound downright utopian.
Mintel also writes, “Expect to see consumers further prioritize plants in their diets, with the planet's health in mind as much as their own.”
Quick question, though, do consumers even care about their own health now? Research continues to show that price and taste outweigh things like sugar reduction when it comes to purchasing decisions. People love to say they aspire to eat less sugar, but they often struggle to choose healthier foods over ones that taste more indulgent.
Mintel continues down this hopeful path of future predictions.
“In the next decade, consumers will be hungry for leadership and demonstrable change on environmental issues, ethical business practices, public health, and other important causes,” explains Alex Beckett, associate director, Mintel Food & Drink. “Consumers will reward brands that take action and improve important societal issues. The companies that will win in the next 10 years will be those that fuel the new era of conscious consumption. Tomorrow's conscious consumers will be looking for eco-friendly packaging and products, while also seeking guidance on how to make their diets more sustainable.”
I have to tell you, I sincerely hope Beckett is right. I really want consumers to reward brands that take action and improve important societal issues. I want lots of eco-friendly packaging, sustainability and healthy food.
I’m just not entirely convinced that consumers do. At least not if it costs more. Or if it tastes different at all. Or if it is inconvenient in any way.
And yes, yes, I know, everyone thinks Gen Z is going to be different. They are the ones who ACTUALLY care about the environment. They’re happy to spend more on healthier foods. And they are going to have massive spending power in the coming years. Or at least that’s what all the experts all seem to think.
Personally, I’m not as convinced. I do believe they care about the environment. And I also believe that they will want healthier products. I just don’t believe they’re going to be willing to pay extra for either of those things.
Right now, most of them are still making purchasing decisions based on the income their parents make. But that’s not sustainable long-term. Eventually, they’ll all be living on entry-level wages, and they’ll become just as frugal as everyone else.
How do I know? Because I’m a Millennial and it’s already happened to us. We hold just 3 percent of the wealth, which is shockingly small compared to what Baby Boomers had by this point. And I don’t see Gen Z faring much better.
“When boomers were roughly the same age as millennials are now, they owned about 21% of America's wealth, compared to millennials' 3% share today, according to recent Fed data,” reports Business Insider.
Guess what that means? We aren’t willing to pay more for almost anything.
But fear not, I do have a hopeful prediction for the future: Companies will make progressive changes NOT because consumers want it, but rather because it’s the right thing to do.
I know some companies already are starting down this path, but there’s so much room to push the entire confectionery industry further in this area.
And if they don’t make these changes, corporations will learn the hard way why they should have. If the planet burns, and everyone is falling over at 20 with health issues, there won’t be anyone left to sell to.
So in the end, companies can be both selfish and do-gooders — because if they aren’t, short-term profits will be the least of their problems.