As consumers, and Millennials especially, opt for trendier, healthier food and drink, manufacturers are transforming themselves to meet those new tastes.
PepsiCo has created a new, entrepreneurial corporate division called The Hive, to focus on emerging brands and capitalize on the trend toward healthier, exotic fare. It already has gobbled up smaller ventures, including Naked Juice, Kevita kombucha, and Sabra, which makes Mediterranean foods. PepsiCo expects sales of healthy snacks to outpace those of traditional fat-and-salt choices by 2025.
Not to be outdone, Coca-Cola has bought a slice of Body Armor, a sports drink being marketed as a healthier alternative to PowerAde and PepsiCo’s Gatorade, which owns 75% of that market. Tyson Foods, synonymous with chicken, owns pieces of three companies making “cultured meat” from cells in tanks. Such “meat” doesn’t depend on the growing and slaughtering of animals.
But health isn’t the only trend that’s causing a ground shift in the industry. Companies are responding to consumer expectations that businesses should also be environmental stewards. Kraft Heinz has pledged to make all its packaging recyclable, reusable, or compostable by 2025.
Anheuser-Busch is investing as much as $100,000 in start-ups, helping it reach its goal of solving 100 environmental challenges by 2025, such as water scarcity, and use of more sustainable raw materials.
Issues of health, human and environmental, have now been baked into consumer tastes. Companies that market regionally and nationally will seek to ally their names and images with those causes. Locally-owned businesses will be late to the trend, but more and more of them will eventually find it necessary to adopt a genuine green strategy.