Region/Countries: Canada, North America Industry: Food and Beverage Date: June 2018

Why this is important to Wisconsin businesses: By staying abreast of trends in consumer demand, Wisconsin companies can benefit from the growth of this market.

According to Restaurants Canada, total food service sales in the country are projected to reach $88.7 billion in 2018. Millennials are the key drivers of growth. The hottest trends that consumers are asking for include:

  • Healthy and fresh foods
  • Convenience foods like meal kits and portable snacks
  • Authentic dips
  • Spices and seasonings
  • Flatbreads
  • Grass-fed beef
  • Sustainable seafood
  • Artisanal ice cream
  • Mini-desserts
  • Craft beer microbrews
  • Specialty iced tea

However, since the rapid rate of growth is expected to level off with consumers becoming more cash strapped, food service operators are mining for margins and reducing operating costs wherever they can, including sourcing less expensive ingredients.

One of the hottest topics in the industry is mobile ordering, since it accounts for one in three of all orders and is growing. Therefore, online and mobile presence are more important than ever. Although most millennials go online, it’s important to note they are not a homogeneous cohort; one-third of millennials are minorities and are seeking authentic and diverse tastes, not just ethnic cuisines; 34 percent of millennials want organic products; and 50 percent care where food is sourced from and if it is sourced responsibly.

Due to people’s ever-busier lives, solutions that target time and convenience are a good opportunity; meal kits are also trending upward. Furthermore, consumers increasingly want transparency in terms of what is in products, so package labeling is very important.