Consumers now rank the planet's health as their number one concern, overtaking personal health, the top priority in recent years. In its Top Ten Trends for 2022, Innova Market Insights - the world's most comprehensive global insight platform for the food and beverage industry - has identified the universal demand for trust in a sustainable future as the biggest driver of consumer behavior in the year ahead.

A sense of joint responsibility for our shared planet guides consumers' choices and the lifestyles they wish to lead. Innova's Global Lifestyle & Attitude Survey reveals that, when it comes to food choices, the top two environmental actions people are taking are reducing waste (43% of respondents) and eating in moderation (32%).

Elsewhere, concerns over health that have been amplified by a pandemic that has massively changed social habits, the continued advancements in technology, and more confidence, vocal consumers all offer clear signs of the direction innovators must take to meet society's needs successfully and desires in 2022.

(Photo: Innova Market Insights)

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"Shared Planet" leads Innova Market Insights' Top Ten Trends, focusing on how everyone can play their part in shaping a sustainable and prosperous future. Consumers tell us they want to be ethically and environmentally conscious, so brands need to work alongside the public to breed confidence in the claims attached to products. Trust and transparency are must-haves for any brand wishing to find common ground with an increasingly educated, forward-thinking, and interconnected consumer base. 

"One of the biggest shifts we are seeing is that the health of the planet is now the top concern of consumers," says Innova's Global Insights Director Lu Ann Williams. "Personal health has been the big concern for the past few years, but consumers now tell us that this has been surpassed by global issues. Sustainability is no longer just a Wall Street issue. It might not be the top purchase driver for all consumers, but for many it clinches the deal when it comes to choosing between products."

Innova's Top Ten Trends, based on extensive, top-quality consumer and industry knowledge, provides the best insights for those needing to stay on top of the changing food and beverage landscape. Innova's continually updated consumer research delves into the 'what' and the 'why' behind the food and beverage industry trends, allowing innovators to forward plan with accurate and detailed insight into the main drivers behind consumer behavior.

Looking to the future, Innova presents the top trends that will drive innovation and success in 2022:

1. Shared Planet

As planetary concerns outstrip personal health regarding consumers' food priorities, brands are moving on from simply proclaiming their credentials to meeting a clear, agreed, and understandable measurement of their environmental and social impact. There is a pressing need for companies to work together and with consumers to build trust in claims of zero or negative impact. It is vital to ensure universal acceptance of certifications and greater public faith in the transparency of brand actions. This requires quick, clear, tangible, and trusted information combined with a product life story that truly stands up to scrutiny. 

2. Plant-Based: The Canvas for Innovation

With personal health and global sustainability proving to be strong drivers of consumer choice, plant-based R&D has refocused from mimicking meat, fish, and dairy to optimizing options that stand on their own merits. When asked what reasons consumers have for considering plant-based alternatives, they tell us they consider it healthier and better for the planet. A third reason, the desire for diet variation, further boosts interest in plant-based beyond the traditional vegan and vegetarian sectors, leading to a 59% increase in launches of new plant-based products in the year to August 2021. From convenience foods to gastronomy, people are looking for the quality alternatives plant-based products can offer.

3. Tech to Table

Technological advances have created major innovation opportunities for the entire food and beverage industry, offering greater possibilities to change every aspect of a product's lifecycle from conception to consumption. While innovators embrace new production methods, consumers turn to apps and AI for guidance on personalized nutrition and a greater understanding of fulfilling their needs successfully. Myths and misunderstandings are crumbling, so it has never been more important to engage in honest and open communication with consumers to ensure their continued trust in the advances of food technology. Respondents to Innova's Consumer Survey say they are more willing to embrace changes such as new food technologies or sharing data if they can be shown to be beneficial to personal and global health.

4. Shifting Occasions

Lockdowns and the pandemic have reshaped existing eating occasions while at the same time helping to create new ones. Consumers have a greater awareness of the comforts and possibilities of home, so now seek more from going out. Industry leaders will be pushed to serve evolving consumption occasions better, creating products geared to the new expectations of a public whose social habits have been challenged.

5. Voice of the Consumer

Consumers are calling the shots and expecting more engagement from brands through digital and real-world channels. People are looking for food and beverages that align with their political, social, and ethical values. If they can't find them, entrepreneurial consumers are taking action to fill the gap themselves, satisfying specific market niches and co-creating products that meet their needs.

Health, authenticity, responsibility, and the simple craving for pleasure combine in Innova Market Insights' Top Ten Trends for 2022. In addition to the top five, Innova has identified the following themes that will drive consumer actions in the coming 12 months:

6. Gut Glory

7. Back to the Roots

8. Amplified Experiences

9. Upcycling Redefined

10. My Food, My Brand

On Wednesday 3 November 2021, at 4pm CET and 11am EDT, Innova Market Insights' Global Insights Director Lu Ann Williams will present a webinar detailing all the Top Ten Trends for 2022. Register here to be the first to receive this invaluable data on the themes that will dominate the food and beverage industry. 

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