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5 Emerging Trends for Large CPGs

Apr 29, 2022

Written By
Matt Sanders

The CPG industry comes with a lot of red tape. Your internal processes have to be complex to support all of the moving parts keeping your company going. But even though these intricacies serve a purpose, they can still get in the way of your ability to jump on trends before they’re overdone. 

You also may be more risk averse (understanbly) than smaller CPGs because of your size. As a result, you don’t pivot as quickly to follow trends. 

Still, it’s important to examine what’s coming down the pike in your industry. Food and beverage products that seem inconsequential now will be overtaking the shelves in the near future. Additionally, following CPG trends can inform your acquisition strategy, allowing you to consider investing in up-and-coming companies before others do. 

Consider these five emerging CPG trends to see what’s on the horizon — and what piques your brand’s interest. 

1. Holistic Eco-Consciousness Beats Empty Sustainability Promises

Sustainability, climate change, and eco-consciousness have been on our minds as consumers and industry professionals for years now. What’s new in 2022 is sustainability’s prominence. Product and brand sustainability claims that were once buried on a random site page are now front-of-pack fodder and features on their own webpages. 

There’s no more shying away from the realities facing our planet. Companies are reacting by rejecting one-off, greenwashing sustainability initiatives and working to make the planet healthier through their entire missions. 

All you need to do is take a look at a few brands to see the holistic eco-consciousness trend in action: 

  • Moonshot Snacks. This brand’s homepage banner image reads, “Welcome to the climate-friendly food movement.” It doesn’t get any more prominent than that. And they’re not empty words. Moonshot Snacks is committed to healthy food systems. That means every part of their process — from ingredient sourcing to packaging materials — is selected with planet health in mind. 
  • Epic Provisions. This brand is out to “heal the land” through regenerative agriculture, not just sell an idea of sustainability they don’t back up with action. 
  • GoodSam Foods. This company has completely shifted the narrative to the point where their product is secondary to their mission of supporting small farms. GoodSam consumers are knowingly buying sustainably. 
  • Pulp Pantry. These snacks prove sustainability is about so much more than recyclable packaging. Their chips are made from upcycled veggie pulp that would have otherwise been trashed. Talk about a newfangled approach to fighting food waste.

2. Plant-Based Foods Get Another Facelift 

With sustainability and the health of our planet on our minds, it’s no secret that plant-based foods have been on the rise for years. In 2022, plant-based products are leveling up yet again. 

Gone are the days of plain old soy chicken patties. Today, you can fill your cart with plant-based substitutes for fancy foods like caviar, foie gras, sashimi, and eggs. In addition to these specific products, we expect plant-based foods to offer even more diverse tastes and textures moving forward. 

Plant-based foods are becoming so good they’re competing not only with other plant-based alternatives, but also with their animal product counterparts. That means your large CPG might have competition from some unexpected brands and categories this year and beyond. 

3. Better-for-You Comfort Foods Take over the Frozen Aisle 

The popularity of plant-based foods is also driven by our collective desire to be healthier. That’s why traditional comfort foods — like mac and cheese and ice cream — are getting a makeover, too. 

It used to be that we didn’t care what was in our go-to foods so long as they comforted us. But consumers don’t have to sacrifice nutrition or health for comfort these days. That’s because brands are creating better-for-you versions of favorite comfort eats with cleaner ingredients. 

Of course, there are your standard cauliflower crust pizzas, lentil pastas, and gluten-free cookies. But the frozen foods aisle is really seeing an increase in better-for-you comfort foods. It could be because COVID forced us to eat at home more often and frozen foods are simply convenient. No matter what sparked the trend, better-for-you comfort foods — especially frozen varieties — are here to stay. 

4. Certain Adaptogens Go Mainstream

Functional foods — foods that have a positive effect on health beyond basic nutrition — are not new on the food and beverage scene. That said, we see certain functional foods emerge as favorites each year. In 2022, adaptogens, specifically mushrooms as well as pre- and probiotics, are really taking hold. 

Lions mane, cordyceps, reishi — these are all mushrooms that are making their way into products, generally in the form of a powder. In the near future, we expect to see mushrooms baked into foods as well, like bars. That’s because the benefits of this adaptogen are becoming more widely accepted. 

Pre- and probiotics were everywhere when the GRO team attended the food and beverage industry conference Expo West this March. They’ve gone way beyond kombucha. These adaptogens are popping up in sparkling water, baked goods, bars, and much more. 

It was only a few years ago that kombucha was fringe. Don’t miss your chance to explore these up and coming ingredients. 

5. Global Flavors Land in the U.S. 

Millenials are the largest consumer base right now, and they’re much more into food experiences than previous generations. On top of that, COVID kept us all from traveling for a while. These compounding factors and more have led to an increase in access and interest in global flavors. 

Brands like Fly by Jing, Fila Manila, and Omsom are bringing novel flavors into homes across the globe. 

Even though many of us have resumed traveling and eating outside of the home, these trending global flavors aren’t going anywhere. 

Learn from these Trends or Fall Behind 

There are a lot of cool trends in CPG this year that are already shaping what the future of the industry looks like. It’s crucial to check in on even the smallest CPGs from time to time to strategize how your company can take advantage of the next big thing — before it’s the next big thing. 

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