The Taste of Recovery: How the Food and Beverage Markets Are Changing with the Times

11/16/2015

It’s a fact: everyone has to eat. And depending on prevailing economic conditions, this can mean saving money by preparing canned goods at home or eating out at extravagantly expensive restaurants. With today’s brighter economic outlook, it is no surprise that consumers are purchasing more premium foodstuffs than in past years. But unexpectedly, nutritious and on-the-go food options are also on the rise.

The financial condition of the average consumer has improved dramatically since the Great Recession of 2007-09. According to PPC’s recently released Trends: Industry Outlook and Market Data Report, household wealth is at an all-time high due to rising home prices, a surging stock market, and declining gasoline prices. Furthermore, the labor market is becoming more favorable and the household debt service ratio is near its lowest level since the metric was introduced. The result is that consumers not only have more cash in their wallets, but they’re also more willing to spend it on premium products such as high-end confections, craft beer, and locally distilled spirits. Consumers are also purchasing more artisanal cheeses, Greek yogurt, and other specialty dairy products than they were during the recession. 

Throughout the past few years, concerns around obesity as well as distrust of highly processed foods have also led consumers to become more health conscious.

For instance, the growing emphasis on unsaturated and natural fats and oils has returned butter to favor over artificial margarine while naturally occurring sugar is gaining popularity over artificial sweeteners.

Sales of organic, natural, and whole wheat dry goods have also increased with consumers’ renewed ability to afford more expensive and nutritious options. Conversely, for the first time in many years foods seen as over-processed, such as sugary sodas and frozen foods, are struggling for market share. So to compete, brand owners have been promoting research that frozen fruits and vegetables contain superior nutritional content over fresh options.

A final consequence of economic recovery centers around how we eat just as much as what we eat. More people are working today than during the recession and with less time to cook, they’re hungry for convenient on-the-go options. The younger demographic specifically has taken to eating breakfast on the run, which has helped spike sales in granola bars in recent years. According to marketresearch.com, healthy snacking is also replacing traditional meals, which consumers are finding difficult to schedule around their other responsibilities (51% in 2015 compared to 37% in 2004).

Additionally, frozen fruit is faring surprisingly well as consumers discover the health benefits of easily transportable homemade juices and smoothies. Eating at fast casual dining establishments is also on the rise.

Today, widespread economic recovery is informing purchasing decisions in the food and beverage markets. Consumers are confident and they’re splurging on high-end foodstuffs; they’re taking advantage of more expensive nutritious options; and they’re eating on the go as they’re spending more time working.  By taking these trends into account when devising products, packaging, and sales strategies, brand owners and package designers will be able to serve up delicious dividends for their companies.

For an even deeper understanding of these and other markets—as well as folding carton-specific data and tips—PPC members can download the 2015 Trends Report at paperbox.org/trends.

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food and beverage
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