The Wizard of Lightbulb Moments

The Wizard is constantly scanning industry news to maintain our trend forward stance. These “Lightbulb Moments” are quick insights on critical shifts in trends, research, and other happenings impacting food and beverage companies.

Hot tea makes a great start for these fall cocktails

Hot tea brewed strong can be a great basis for a warming fall cocktail, according to tea expert Stephen Thomas and bartender Max Green. Wrap up and get cozy.


Lightbulb Moment: Damn straight…wrap up and get cozy.  Why should coffee and cocoa get all the accolades while tea sits on the sidelines? Tea has multiple flavor profiles represented by all the different varietals compared to coffee and cocoa whose differences are more subtle.  Cheers to Tea!

Impossible Burger will be sold in grocery stores next year

Impossible Foods will begin selling its plant-based Impossible Burger in U.S. grocery stores next year, according to a press release from the company.  Since its debut in 2016, the plant-based “”burger that bleeds”” has only been available in restaurants.


Lightbulb Moment: The Impossible Burger is gluten based, a fact that is not obvious to consumers because it has only been in restaurants.  Now that it is moving to retail and the label will reveal this fact, one of two things is likely to happen.  Either there will be a backlash against the Impossible Burger since it goes against the gluten free trend.  Or it will help diminish the gluten free trend as it stands as a positive light for gluten containing products.

Food is part of consumer’s values and belief system

Ninety-one percent of consumers say food is an important part of their values and belief system and 79% feel it’s their role and responsibility to share food information with others, according to FleishmanHillard. In addition, 78% have taken action to address food issues important to them, with reducing food waste their top priority, and 60% say they bear the responsibility for improving what and how we eat, more than food companies, government entities or health professionals. 


Lightbulb Moment: This research emphasizes why simply knowing what is trending is the tip of the iceberg.  It is not strategic, it is not useful, and it is not directional.  If you enter a trend without having a clear understanding of the drivers behind it, you will be flying blind.

Product offerings grow for the anxiety, stress, mood and sleep category

GlobalData puts the global market for sleeping aids at $1.36 billion as of 2016 with expected growth of 4.1 percent for 2015 to 2020. GlobalData puts the U.S.  market for sleeping aids at just under $375 million as of 2016, and projects that this market will expand 3.5 percent for the period from 2015 to 2020.  According to a GlobalData, 75% of Americans said their preferred consumption format for health-enhancing ingredients is food; 50% said the same for beverages. 


Lightbulb Moment: Sleep is but one spoke on the wheel of cognitive function.  If you are engaging sleep, consider what other spokes are connected to the wheel.  Stress, focus, energy, relaxation, depression, and memory are all on the wheel and linked to sleep.  Why focus on just one when you can play the field?  Your biggest competitor is pharmacy which has decades of research on their side.  Time to play a bit of catch up and choose your alliances carefully if you’re trying to cut to the front of the line through acquisition or partnership.

Why millennials prefer cannabis to booze

Millennials drink far less alcohol than past generations, a survey from the Monitoring the Future Study found. The share of college students who drink alcohol daily fell from 4.3% in 2016 to 2.2% in 2017.  Recreational cannabis was a $6 billion industry in 2016, and it’s projected to increase more than 700% to $50 billion in annual legal sales by 2026, according to financial firm Cowen and Co.  Millennial users say they prefer cannabis to alcohol because it is cheaper, more relaxing, and there is no hangover. 


Lightbulb Moment: The question is not whether Cannabis will continue to grow, the question is whether you will engage the trend or not.  Will you join the party, side step the party, or tilt at windmills? The Millennial reasoning is simple and sound.  The adversary to be most worried about is clinical research which has its own reasons to not engage Cannabis.

Restaurants Blur Lines with In-House C-Stores and Grocers

Newk’s Express Market Fast casual Newk’s Eatery has rolled out its Express Market concept at 49 units and plans to transform the existing grab-and-go coolers at all of its 120 units to the updated retail space. The grab-and-go area includes prepared proteins such as broiled shrimp, sliced chicken and flash-seared ahi tuna.   


The Tavern by Sweetgreen is a year-round farmers’ market that sells produce from farmers that supply Sweetgreen restaurants, Parmesan crisps and local cheeses that are cross-utilized on the chain’s menu.  3.  Real Good Stuff Co.  opened Real Good River North, a market space that’s like a mini food hall-plus-convenience store.  The location includes a smoothie bar, a hot foods counter with customizable bowls and a sweets corner with soft serve and locally produced pastries. 


Lightbulb Moment: These hybrids are here to stay.  If you want to prolong a product’s lifecycle, you need to layer trends within the product.  This is an example of layering trends within a brick and mortar space which is why it is so brilliant and fearsome. 

Healthy menu items increase their likelihood of choosing one restaurant over another

71% of consumers say healthy menu items increase their likelihood of choosing one restaurant over another, according to the National Restaurant Association. As a result, 55% of family-dining operators, 57% of casual-dining, 49% of fast-casual, and 41% of quick-service operators said they would add healthier items to their menu. 


Lightbulb Moment: Healthy menu choices are now seen as a desirable attribute instead of a detractor.  It is not that indulgence is negative but that health and indulgence have formed an alliance.  There is now a sliding scale … the time for absolutes is over.

Consumers would try food infused with cannabis if it becomes legal

41% of American and Canadian consumers would try food infused with cannabis if it becomes legal, according to a study from AT Kearney. In addition, 25% of respondents said their perception of a non-alcoholic beverage company would improve if they became involved in cannabis.  About 80 percent of respondents believe that cannabis products can offer wellness or therapeutic benefits.  Forty-three percent would try therapeutic or supplemental cannabis-infused products. 


Lightbulb Moment: Cannabis is a Pandora’s Box – an unstoppable trend, with few or no adversaries or competitors It is legal for medical use in 33 states and recreational purposes in 10 states plus Washington, DC.  While it does have adversaries, they have not been able to stem the wave.  The most powerful thing Cannabis offers is that that since its components CBD and THC can be separated, it can offer recreational or medicinal properties in separate products.  And it can be served as an inhalant, food, or beverage.  No other food product can boast this potential.

Brick-and-mortar grocers still king

Brick-and-mortar retailers remain popular among grocery shoppers, with 75% of consumers preferring to shop at traditional grocers, according to the TABS Analytics 6th Annual Food and Beverage Consumables Study.  Although that marked a 4% increase from last year’s survey, only 38% of consumers said they’ve made food and beverage purchases online even once and, conversely, 62% still buy no food or beverages online.  Brick-and-mortar grocery accounts for 95% of transactions, and 99% of adults say they buy food and beverages regularly at a brick-and-mortar outlet.  Meanwhile, 44% of those polled said they’re loyal online grocery shoppers, up from 38% a year ago.


Lightbulb Moment:  Human contact cannot be substituted by convenience.  The smell, the look, the feel of choosing your own food is something online service providers may never be able to replace.  The challenge would be to come up with an enticement that would be more desired than this experience.  If that happens, then heaven help farmers markets.

Consumer confusion continues in plant-based milk space

In a poll by Lincoln Park Strategies for the International Food Information Council, 75% said soymilk and almond milk did not contain cow’s milk, with 16% unsure and 9% believing they did contain cow’s milk. For coconut milk, 74% said coconut milk did not contain cow’s milk, 18% were unsure and 8% believe it does contain cow’s milk. And 73% said rice milk did not contain cow’s milk, with 20% unsure and 7% believing it did contain cow’s milk. Regarding nonfat milk, 22% were unsure if it contained cow’s milk or believing it doesn’t; 26% unsure if ‘skim milk’ contained cow’s milk or believing it doesn’t; and 15% unsure if ‘chocolate milk’ contained cow’s milk or believing it doesn’t.


Lightbulb Moment:  What is there to say…consumers are not entirely sure if cow’s milk contains cow’s milk or if plant milk contains cow’s milk.  And people are wondering why the FDA is considering the question of whether plant milk should be allowed to be called “milk”…Really?

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