12 trends the food industry needs to watch out for in 2017

Written by: Julia Leong, Food Trust Leader, PwC Singapore

In today’s interconnected global economy, technology is driving pervasive disruption in many industries, including food & beverage, where change is taking place on many fronts – from production, distribution all the way to retail and consumption.

As such, there is an important need for food businesses to take into greater consideration the evolving environment to devise appropriate strategies for the future; why and how things are transforming, and how it might affect them.

As we prepare for the year ahead, here are 12 key industry trends for food and beverage companies to think about:

1. Globalisation
As the world is more connected today, global megatrends – such as climate change, urbanisation, digitisation and demographic change are transforming society and the way we do business. In a world without borders, staying on-top of issues means being able to adapt faster. Globalisation is also making food supply chains more complex than ever before.

2. Food security
The security of food supply is being challenged. Price spikes, availability of food and the integrity of supply are a concern as global food demand grows. Solutions will continue to be linked to trade, regulation, technology, infrastructure and increased collaboration between the public and private sectors.

3. Scandals
Fake food, contamination, safety and quality failures, ethical and environmental concerns cost money and damage trust. Bad news travel fast, and will quickly influence today’s social media addicted consumers. The scrutiny on your food supply chain and focus on brand value goes a long way in protecting the brand.

4. Rules and Regulations
Regulations are increasing worldwide from governments and industry bodies as they respond to the surge in supply chain failures – but what is notable is that food companies are going beyond compliance to win trust.

5. Differentiation
Food trust is not about playing defense but offence. In the midst of a rapidly disrupted marketplace, opportunities are abound. Food companies must seize these opportunities in order to not only differentiate themselves from their competitors. It is key to communicate to consumers that you are at the forefront of the change.

6. Investment
Big food companies are investing millions in integrating and purchasing whole supply chains to improve oversight, control and integrity.

7. Technology
We are now equipped with smarter technology to manage data from farm to fork. This can help improve supply chain traceability and transparency, which is at the heart of building trust in food.

8. Economic power
Consumers in the region are increasingly affluent and this growth of maturing economies is expanding consumer markets. Closer to home, for instance, is the Halal food market – where consumers are now more conscious about food source, variety and quality.

9. Consumers
Disruption from consumers is becoming more prominent than that of industry competitors. Changing taste and growing customer expectations will continue dictating the fortunes of food companies – who must meet these demands or risk losing preference.

10. Millennials and Mobile Commerce
The game is changing – demand for organic, sustainably sourced, ethically traded and healthy food is rising, spurred by millennials and more conscious consumers. Mobile devices are researching and publishing more tools, as millennial shoppers is making mobile commerce an online shopping tool of choice.

11. Connectivity
The ability for consumers to connect themselves to more data is empowering them. There is a growing trend for consumers to want direct links to the companies that grow and produce their food. Companies are collecting more data and using it to feed customers with the information they crave.

12. Keep up the good work
To sum up the year, it has been heartening to see the industry mature to understand that food trust goes beyond just food safety but includes food integrity. We have seen more food and beverage industry players put greater effort in ensuring food trust in their offerings and leveraging opportunities to deliver their brand promise and continue to build consumer trust.

As we celebrate another year, the food industry in Singapore has well-safeguarded its reputation for safe and quality food, but this does not mean we should not rest on our laurels. The industry should continue to adapt and grow in order to sustain its reputation.

Source: PWC Singapore