Modern consumers are hungry for new food experiences. That creates opportunities for companies that can identify and serve emerging trends. Yet, in a competitive, fast-moving environment, it can be hard to stay ahead of the curve. ADM, with capabilities spanning consumer insights to market-ready solutions, is equipped to help its partners rise to that challenge.
The opportunities for companies that can quickly recognize and serve emerging consumer demands are clear. One-third of consumers prefer going to restaurants that use new or innovative flavors or ingredients in their dishes.1 The figure rises to 40% among Millenials. Most people “actively seek out flavors to try on a regular basis” or “like trying new flavors from time to time.”2
In many regards, it is harder than ever to deliver foods and dishes that are new to consumers. Many consumers have a passing knowledge of the food cultures of a large number of countries all around the world. To continue meeting consumer appetite for new food experiences, companies need to dive deeper into regional cuisine and be alert to how innovations are redefining what is possible.
Companies that tackle that task will be rewarded. One-third of consumers say they will pay more for authentic ethnic food.3 A similar proportion of people are keen to explore regional varieties of ethnic cuisines, reflecting growing recognition that, for example, the Chinese and Indian dishes commonly served in the West only showcase a small part of the food culture found in those countries.
The task of meeting consumer demand for new flavors and food experiences is complicated by other equally powerful trends. While valuing novelty, many consumers are unwilling to sacrifice on health or their broader values. Foods must be good for consumers and the wider world.
Food consumption is part of how people see themselves, for example through lifestyle diets such as keto. That is not wholly new — famed French gastronome Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin said “tell me what you eat, and I will tell you what you are” centuries ago — but today it connects to the broader desires of consumers to make ethical, sustainable choices about food.4
The interconnectivity of these trends mean they cannot be treated in isolation. A product that meets the demand for novelty but runs counter to consumer positions on conscious consumption is likely to struggle. While on one level that complicates the task facing companies, it also creates opportunities.
Companies that can simultaneously address multiple interconnected trends will position themselves for success, as is shown by the fastest-growing product categories today. Plant-based proteins, for example, can simultaneously address consumer demands relating to new experiences, sustainability, wellness and conscious consumption. The result is sustained rapid growth. US grocery sales of plant-based meats grew 38% from 2017 to 2019, compared to just 4% across the broader market.5
Why ADM is equipped to meet consumer demands
Knowing consumers want novel experiences is the easy part. The challenge is to find ways to satisfy that demand. ADM has established a global culinary team to help customers meet that challenge and unlock the resulting market opportunities.
The culinary team works out of eight innovation centers in six countries across five continents. Each center is staffed by chefs, mixologists, baristas and food scientists, giving ADM a global network of people who can identify food trends. ADM also has a consumer insights unit that works to anticipate global trends and track emerging taste and flavor profiles.
Having established that infrastructure, ADM is well placed to identify food trends before they enter the mainstream. That is the first part of the challenge of staying ahead of the curve. The next step is to get on-trend products to market as fast as possible.
ADM applies its global culinary expertise, formulation knowhow and vast chefs’ pantry to that task. Working on a chef-to-chef basis with its clients, ADM can quickly prototype, troubleshoot and finalize new products that meet the taste, texture, color and nutrition demands of consumers, as well as the cost requirements of its customers.
The focus on customer cost requirements is indicative of how the culinary team straddles the worlds of innovative food science and practical product delivery. With a deep understanding of production systems, the culinary team delivers new products that work in the lab, on the plate and in real-world supply chains.
ADM’s culinary employees are connected to a broader organization that is well equipped to get the products they develop to consumers. As a vertically integrated company with its own transportation network, ADM’s activities span the entire value chain from farm to fork, equipping it to address the traceability demands of consumers and the supply chain requirements of its customers.
In deploying those capabilities, ADM aims to act as an extension of its customers’ resources. Through that approach, ADM supports its partners from concept to commercialization and, in doing so, helps them create differentiated, on-trend products that fit with their operations and the demands of their consumers.
1. Consumer Trend Reports. https://www.technomic.com/reports/consumer/consumer-trend-reports.
2. Hensel, K. 2020 FLAVOR FORECAST. Food Technol. 73, 44–+ (2019).
3. Zarling, P. Consumers crave authentic ethnic food — and will pay more. https://www.fooddive.com/news/consumers-crave-authentic-ethnic-food-and-will-pay-more/529282/ (2018).
4. Wikipedia contributors. Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Jean_Anthelme_Brillat-Savarin&oldid=971651340 (2020).
5. U.S. Plant-Based Market Overview - New SPINS retail sales data. https://www.gfi.org/marketresearch (2018).