Wouldn’t it be nice if there was some sort of all-knowing oracle that would give insight into current food trends and how they’ll play out? That’s sort of what Mintel‘s Global Food Analyst Melanie Bartelme does.
That’s why we’re so amped to have Bartelme joining us at Customize, our food personalization summit coming up next month in New York City. She’ll share a birds-eye view of the impact of personalization throughout the world of food — and predict how the trend will continue to shape the way we eat in the future.
In short, you’ll want to hear her in person at Customize (grab your tickets here before they run out!). Since February 27th can’t come soon enough, here’s a Q&A to give you sneak peek at what Bartelme will be giving insight on next month in the Big Apple:
Tell us a bit about what Mintel does in the food and bev space.
Mintel provides insight into the food and beverage industry, helping our clients understand what consumers want, and why. We track trends and innovation in products, technology and consumer demands to ensure companies can deliver what will resonate with today’s shoppers.
Give us a snapshot into the growth of the food personalization trend. Why do you think it’s becoming so popular right now?
Mintel has been tracking personalization in food for some time now. We identified its potential in our 2016 trend [report] Diet by DNA, and it’s only been evolving since then.
Technological advances are enabling consumers to learn more about themselves than ever before, from wearables like Fitbits to DNA tests that give consumers an unprecedented look at their individual makeup. There’s a lot of confusion from consumers on what is healthy and how much of any one nutrient they need, and this specific information is appealing because it puts that control in consumers’ hands.
What’s the biggest challenge facing companies trying to tap into consumer demand for personalization?
The flip side to the availability of this kind of individual information will be targeting those consumers. Right now, we can segment consumers by their “tribes,” such as vegan or paleo, but what will happen when each person understands they need slightly different things?
Plus, even if companies can target those consumers, consumers are grappling with privacy concerns in sharing data, so companies will be challenged to ensure that the benefits they can offer consumers in personalization outweigh the fears consumers have about sharing that data.
This is, though, also an opportunity for companies: while the prices of DNA kits are coming down, and further innovation will make these more accessible, not everyone is going to be able to truly eat this way. Nor will they want to: food is more than meeting your nutritional goals, and flavor and enjoyment are a huge advantage that food and beverage companies can offer consumers.
What do you think personalized food or drink will look like 5 years down the road?
In five years, I think we’ll see a blending of food tech with traditional eating that will create a more savvy consumer. We’ve already seen consumers demanding more transparency and traceability from their foods, and that will not go away. Personalization technology will enable consumers to know so much more about the foods they’re consuming and make smarter decisions about what they can and cannot eat. For some consumers, this may mean a return to foods they had written off, like gluten.
While there will be a group of consumers who live and breathe by the recommendations they receive from technology, a majority of consumers will be just beginning to experiment with these tools. Food and beverage companies will be challenged to provide as much information as possible about their products to help all consumers create healthy, balanced diets, whether or not they are using their DNA to do so.