Increased consumer interest in the stories behind their food and beverage products and their notable influence on purchasing decisions has resulted in companies increasingly paying attention to storytelling in branding strategies. For that reason, “Storytelling: Winning with Words” leads the list of Innova Market Insights’ top 10 trends for 2020.

Although ingredient provenance has always been important, consumer interest in discovering the story behind their foods has risen further and is increasingly influencing purchasing decisions, said Innova Market Insights, Arnhem, the Netherlands. Consumers' attention is piqued by opportunities to learn more about how products are produced, which promotes an understanding of product benefits and helps build all-important trust in the brand.

As a result, manufacturers are increasingly focusing on ingredient provenance platforms to highlight the taste and quality of their products, as well as their uniqueness and sustainability efforts. Provenance platforms can communicate a whole range of messages to the consumer, the company said, including flavor/taste, processing methods, cultural and traditional backgrounds, and the more obvious geographical origin.

The remaining top five trends for 2020, in order, are:

Plant-Based Revolution. Plant-based innovation in food and beverages continues to flourish as a result of consumer interest in health, sustainability and ethics, which ties into the broader consumer lifestyle trend toward cleaner living. As the use of the term “plant-based” moves more into the mainstream, the industry and start-up companies in particular, are taking up the challenge to deliver more clean-label meat and dairy alternatives with improved nutritional profiles, Innova Market Insights said.

The Sustain Domain. Consumers increasingly expect companies to invest in sustainability, with Innova Market Insights’ research indicating that 85% of U.S. and U.K. consumers, on average, expected companies to invest in sustainability in 2019, up from 64% in 2018. In the area of food waste, upcycling is the new recycling, as companies strive to follow a zero-waste approach by creating value from byproducts. Meanwhile in packaging, the focus is on using less of it, as well as developing sustainable alternatives.

The Right Bite. Stress and anxiety are key concerns in modern life as consumers manage careers, families and social lives while striving to maintain healthy lifestyles, both physically and mentally, Innova Market Insights said. Responses to this vary, although the majority of consumers aim to balance the benefits and costs of busy lifestyles. This, in turn, raises the demand for nutritious foods that are easy to prepare, convenient and portable. Indulgent treats play a role in relaxation and enjoyment.

Tapping into Texture. Last year’s leading trend, “Discovery: the Adventurous Consumer,” is still prominent, the company said, with consumer demand for something new and different being reflected in more product launches with textural claims. Consumers increasingly recognize the influence of texture on food and beverages, allowing a heightened sensory experience and often a greater feeling of indulgence. According to Innova Market Insights’ research, 45% of U.S. and U.K. consumers, on average, are influenced by texture when buying food and drinks, while 68% share the opinion that textures contribute to a more interesting food and beverage experience.

The remaining top 10 trends for 2020 identified by Innova Market Insights are, in order, Macronutrient Makeover, Hello Hybrids, A Star is Born, Eat Pretty and Brand Unlimited.

Innova Market Insights’ “Top Ten Trends 2020” webinar will be held on Nov. 6, 2019, at 4 p.m. CET/10 a.m. EST. Lu Ann William, director of innovation, will highlight the top trends that most likely to impact the food and beverages industry over the coming year and beyond. Register here.