To borrow from Phil Collins, there is definitely something in the air when it comes to the food in our kitchens. While I don’t think we are fully there yet, it feels like we are the cusp of major changes to what we eat at home.
I got to thinking about this last week when I noticed my day started eating a bowl of Magic Spoon‘s “healthy” sugary cereal and ended with a few bites of Brave Robot’s non-animal flora-based ice cream.
Neither of these products existed little more than a year ago. Both sell direct to consumer. And both are new formulations of old standbys angling to replace existing products we currently stock in our cupboards.
Oh, and both are delicious.
They are also expensive. It’s $40 for four boxes of Magic Spoon and $58 for four pints of Brave Robot. That’s WAY too expensive to be mainstream right now. So even though my kitchen carries these items, I recognize that I am a very off to the side as an edge case.
It would be cliché to say that we’re in the first inning of this food tech game and that prices will come down as those companies scale up. Of course they will. The point of this post is that we aren’t in first inning any more.
In addition to new cereals and ice cream, my freezer is full of Impossible and Beyond plant-based meat, I drink oatmilk, I enjoy JUST egg products, I’ve become addicted to Pig Out plant-based pork rinds, and I’m anxiously awaiting the day Loca will sell its plant-based cheese online.
All of these products feel mature. They aren’t almost there, they’re here, and they have arrived at just the right time and they are at scale. Sales of plant-based foods were already growing before the pandemic, which added some rocket fuel to the mix. And now, these new foods don’t have to rely on traditional retail infrastructure to reach consumers. Brands can market on social media and sell directly through their own websites. Like Magic Spoon and Brave Robot, Impossible has its own sales channel, as does Pig Out and Beyond will soon be following suit.
This is good because consumers are getting used to buying their food online. The pandemic pushed people into record amounts of grocery e-commerce. And now that we’ve been doing it for months and formed new habits, the idea of buying food — especially non-produce items — online is almost second nature.
There is still a ways to go, I’d call this the end of the first quarter, and dominance perpetuates itself, so existing big CPG players will remain big (think: Oreos and Doritos and such). But looking at where we are now, the next generation of food products becoming our new normal is no longer against all odds (the superior Phil Collins song).