Q&A: The Growing Interest in Convenience

March 23rd, 2022

Convenience Food & Beverage Series

Learn what consumers are demanding from convenience goods, as well as:

  • What’s driving the convenience trend
  • The longevity of convenience
  • Formulation challenges

As consumers adjust their lifestyles post-pandemic, the demands within the food and beverage industry continue to evolve alongside them, resulting in a growing trend of healthy, on-the-go consumption patterns.

We spoke with Michael Coe, Sales Director at Blue Diamond Growers, about the latest shifts in convenience food and beverage offerings and how almonds can help developers keep up with the rapidly changing consumer trends.

What's driving the growth of consumer interest in convenience foods and beverages?

Snacking at desk

As younger generations such as millennials and Gen Z transition into adulthood, we are noticing a shift from the traditional three meal a day approach to a more fluid form of snacking throughout the day as it best fits the individual's lifestyle. These generations hold increasing amounts of purchase power as their careers launch, develop and warrant product developers' attention.

Additionally, as these generations begin to start families, aspects such as diet and eating patterns filter down to their children. Given the younger generation's thirst for more active, on-the-go lifestyles, consumers are looking for products that satisfy both the convenient format and provide different consumption experiences without sacrificing nutrition.

Do you expect interest in these on-the-go products to fade out, or do you think the demand will continue to grow?

I expect the demand will continue to grow. Navigating the past two years, we've seen various trends come and go, including the decreased reliance on on-the-go products and the surge in at-home baking seen toward the end of 2020.  As lockdowns persisted, convenience items-like bars-were not as required to satisfy your daily snacking or meal requirements.

Jogger-eating-snack

Since then, we have begun to see a growing re-emergence in the desire for on-the-go products.  Among many consumers, there seems to be an appetite to get back the active lifestyles of the past and make up for lost time. As the "new normal" begins to appear, and we better understand how consumers are behaving within it, there are opportunities for product developers and food manufacturers to optimize and innovate existing products to deliver convenience to consumers in a way that best supports trends seen post-COVID.

What specific benefits are consumers expecting out of convenience-focused goods?

There continues to be a growing sentiment that convenience does not automatically equal nutritionally inferior products. From a consumer standpoint, the on-the-go lifestyle won't be the detriment of their health and wellness goals, showing a desire for healthy and convenient products wrapped into one offering. Delivering a convenience-focused offering that brings great taste, but also boasts benefits such as gut health, mental well-being, while delivering claims including high in fiber or vitamin E, will grab consumer attention.

The uniqueness in terms of flavor or snacking experience is also increasingly important. Millennial and Gen Z consumers are adventurous and show a growing appetite for new experiences. Product developers can utilize this growing market to deliver products that meet the demands of these younger generations as their purchasing power continues to increase.

active-people.png

What are the most common challenges when it comes to formulating convenience foods and beverages?

The rate at which consumer demands, behaviors and trends are changing is one of the most common challenges the industry faces. We are living through a period in human history with a great deal of unknowns and challenges both small and large on a global scale. This results in a mindset that what is important today may not be important tomorrow.

Immune-boosting-food

However, we believe it is safe to say that a focus on immunity and individual health will continue to be top of mind as we continue to navigate the challenges of COVID-19. Focusing on various aspects important to overall health and well-being is a great starting point for food and beverage developers. The ability to take that understanding and quickly pivot, or extend, into different snacking experiences or flavors will provide the nimbleness that may be needed to capitalize on what is likely to be a very fluid environment over the next several years.

How can almonds help innovate a convenient, on-the-go food or drink?

Almonds bring versatility like few ingredients can. The traditional heart healthy crunch can be delivered in a range of ingredient forms to supplement both the taste profile, and texture of baked goods and bars. Beyond that, ingredients such as almond butter and almond protein powder can bring the benefits of almonds to more non-traditional product applications, like beverages or smoothies, by delivering functional benefits that optimize a product's mouthfeel and taste profile. The versatility of almonds allows them to be a primary driver in the plant-based space for both on-the-go food and drink products, but also supplement more traditional product types by providing crunch, taste, texture and mouthfeel that is well received globally.

Looking for more applied almond expertise from the Blue Diamond team? Contact us with any ingredient-related questions that you have and start the process of creating the next healthy, on-the-go offering today!

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