Trends in the Food and Beverage Industry

12/29/2021

Trends in the Food and Beverage Industry

The food and beverage industry has faced significant challenges and growth over the past couple of years. After yet another unpredictable and unstable year, many hope 2022 will bring more stability back to the industry. So, what’s currently affecting the food and beverage sectors? What will we see going into 2022 and beyond? In this blog, we’re going to dive into some of the latest trends in the food and beverage industry.

TRENDS IN THE FOOD AND BEVERAGE INDUSTRY

CONTINUED COLD CHAIN GROWTH

SUSTAINABILITY

LABOR SHORTAGES

CONSUMERS ARE MORE COMPLEX

MEDICATION SHORTAGES

FARMERS GETTING HIT WITH ISSUES

INCREASED COFFEE PRICES

GLASS AND ALUMINUM SHORTAGE

LIMITED TEMPERATURE CONTROL SHORTAGE

CONTINUED COLD CHAIN GROWTH

One of the well-known trends in the food and beverage industry is the continued growth of cold chains. Recently, a MarketsandMarkets report shows that the cold chain market is valued at USD 4.7 billion in 2021. Furthermore, it’s estimated to reach USD 10.2 billion by 2026. That’s an expected Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 16.6 percent from 2021 to 2026.

Recently, there’s an increased demand for temperature-sensitive drugs (think covid vaccines), rising demand for better food quality, a surging need to reduce food waste, and growing demand for generic drugs. All this is anticipated to drive the market’s growth

In light of the pandemic, the risks of COVID-19 have made consumers more interested in healthier, less processed foods that will boost their immune systems. However, less processed foods mean more food products that will need temperature control.

Shipping temperature-sensitive items? Check out our Temperature Shipping Guide for temperature suggestions.

Additionally, the frozen food sector looks to be growing. Besides filling home freezers, frozen foods are growing at restaurants. Restaurants are also providing new menu items for the frozen grocery aisle. In an American Frozen Food Institute report, 72 percent of frozen food consumers said they combine frozen and fresh ingredients in their meals.

Comparatively, shippers are also using more cold chain services to preserve the shelf life of their products, even when temperature-controlled transportation isn’t needed.

SUSTAINABILITY

Growing climate issues are making sustainability a common trend in almost all industries. However, food waste is a major contributor to greenhouse gas emissions globally, contributing to cold chain issues. This makes sustainability one of the top trends in the food and beverage industry.

In fact, an S&P Global Ratings report says food waste contributes to 10 percent of emissions and that $1 trillion of food is wasted each year. Similarly, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), between 73 to 152 million metric tons of food get wasted each year in the U.S. The most wasted foods are fruits and vegetables, followed by dairy and eggs, with over half of all waste occurring in households and restaurants. In addition, the food processing sector generates 34 million metric tons of food waste per year. And over the past decade, the total of U.S. food waste has increased by 12 percent to 14 percent.

To put it differently, the EPA said halving food waste in the U.S. would save 3.2 trillion gallons of water, 640 million pounds of fertilizer, 262 billion kilowatt-hours of energy, and 92 million metric ton equivalents of carbon dioxide. According to the Agency, reducing the waste of meats, cereals, and fresh fruits and vegetables would have the most significant impact.

Due to this growing issue, governments and businesses have been working hard to improve sustainability efforts. In July 2021, the Zero Food Waste Act was introduced to provide grants to businesses that significantly reduce their food waste. Additionally, in November 2021, the Food Donation Improvement Act was introduced to lower food waste by making it easier for companies to donate food instead of throwing it out.

Cold chain improvements have seen growing importance even outside the food and beverage industry. One example is UPS Healthcare developing a system and opening facilities to move medicines safely. Part of their plan includes using reusable cold chain packaging. In addition, Amazon is working on insulation packaging to reduce material waste and replace 735,000 pounds of plastic film, 3.15 million pounds of cotton fiber, and 15 million pounds of non-recyclable plastic.

LABOR SHORTAGES

Labor shortages are common among other industries, making this another trend in the food and beverage industry. As a result, hiring warehouse workers in the U.S. is becoming near impossible. In July 2021, the number of job openings in the warehouse and transportation industry hit record highs. 

With this in mind, companies have started offering new hiring incentives, such as free college tuition, sign-on bonuses, and PlayStation prizes to attract new staff. But because of poor working conditions, low wages, and a lack of career progression in the sector, workers remain uninterested. In fact, according to Tim Cooper of Walmart, they found their average warehouse workers would walk an average of 10 miles a day, stooping and bending for 10 hours while lifting a total of roughly 50,000 pounds throughout their shifts. 

For this reason, automation technology in warehousing can help remove some redundant tasks for those employees. This would allow employees to work in more important ways by running machines and adding efficiency to operations. As a result, having an automated facility could almost double the output of a traditional facility.

CONSUMERS ARE MORE COMPLEX

Over the years, consumers and their choices in food and beverage and their preferred shopping habits, have become more complex. Because of this, there is a greater assortment of products than ever, with more items requiring temperature control as consumers move away from processed foods and look for fresher, healthier items. Consequently, the supply chain for grocery continues to evolve as the message from consumers is clear. They want what they want, when they want it, where they want it, and expect businesses to respond to their demands.

In speaking to consumer shopping preferences, it looks like online grocery shopping, food delivery, and food subscription boxes are here to stay. Whether quarantining or not, many consumers like the option to receive food and beverage products at their door. For instance, a recent Forbes article shared that 60 percent of consumers now order delivery or pickup at least once a week, with takeout predicted to rise to 21 percent of restaurant industry sales by 2025. Additionally, it was shared that 73 percent of consumers recently bought groceries online.

MEDICATION SHORTAGES

While medication might not fall within the food and beverage sector, it does affect the industry due to its use of temperature-controlled transportation and storage.

Lately, pharmacies are reportedly running out of important prescription medications. Currently, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) shows there are about 111 drugs on backorder. This includes products such as heart medications, antibiotics, and cancer treatments.

Equally important, a survey by the National Community Pharmacists Associations (NCPA) showcased that 60 percent of respondents are dealing with supply chain disruptions with, 70 percent of respondents also reporting challenges to fill open positions. Between the rollouts of the Covid-19 vaccines and boosters, seasonal flu shots, as well as their other existing patient care services, pharmacies are stretched thin while patients need them more than ever.

To emphasize the supply chain issues, Tom D’Angelo, chairman of the Pharmacists Society of the State of New York, told Long Island’s Newsday that “a lot of stuff is stuck on barges, including generic blood pressure pills and cold can flu medication.” While Nidhin Mohan, a pharmacist at the New Island Pharmacy in Deer Park, said there are fewer options lately when it comes to certain brands, including ibuprofen.

FARMERS GETTING HIT WITH ISSUES

Farmers are yet another part of the food and beverage industry faced with the recent supply chain challenges. For example, the congestion at U.S. ports and the shortage of truck drivers have left farmers struggling to get their cargo abroad and fulfill contracts before their goods go bad. In addition, because many other backed-up shippers are desperate to have ships return to Asia to pick up more goods, they’ve been leaving the U.S. with empty containers rather than waiting for American farmers to fill them up.

It’s important to note that agriculture accounts for one-tenth of American goods exports, with roughly 20 percent of U.S. farmers’ produce going abroad. Additionally, strong demand for food globally and soaring prices have lifted the value of U.S. agricultural exports to more than 20 percent over the last year.

Specifically, dairy farmers have had trouble getting products onto ships headed to foreign markets. El Dorado Dairy showcases an example of this in Ontario, California. They manufacture milk powder for factories abroad to make candy, baby formula, and other foods. Normally, they ship 50 million pounds of milk powder and butter out of ports each month. But lately, 60 percent of their bookings have been canceled or deferred, causing them to experience a loss of about $45 million in revenue per month.

Consequently, the National Milk Producers Federation estimates that shipping disruptions have cost the U.S. dairy industry nearly $1 billion in the first half of the year. Similarly, the Agriculture Transportation Coalition found that 22 percent of foreign agriculture sales on average are lost because of transportation challenges. The delays at ports have particularly hurt products that move in corrugated metal containers like cheese, butter, meat, walnuts, and cotton.

Not to mention, many farmers are also struggling with high costs and shortages for fertilizer, air filters, pallets, and packaging. Fertilizer costs are 35 percent higher YOY, and pesticide products are up 25 percent.

At the same time, the challenges faced with fertilizers and pesticides can impact future yields since they can only be applied at certain times during the crop cycle. As a result, effects could be long-lasting, potentially causing farmers to face bankruptcies, legal disputes, industry consolidation, inflation, inaccessible food supplies, and more.

Besides the transportation delays, farmers also have shipping costs to handle. Shipping container prices have more than tripled in the past year. It’s also becoming harder to find refrigerated boxes to transport perishable goods. Because of this, farmers have pushed carriers to focus on fresh produce shipments over nonperishable shipments when possible, though it’s been more difficult as they compete with other shippers for space.

INCREASED COFFEE PRICES

Recently, coffee prices have reached a 10-year high, with analysts expecting tightness in the market through 2023. Currently, the commodity has seen its value surge more than 80 percent this year.

The blame for the coffee spike falls on the severe drought and unusual frost conditions in Brazil, the world’s largest supplier of coffee beans. This extreme weather has threatened the coffee supply and set off alarm bells in financial markets.

The last time coffee prices rose and hit their highest was in 2011. Brazil faced similar issues that year in growing its coffee crop. Alongside the bad weather faced this year, global supply constraints have had an impact on the coffee market too.

Coffee inflation is the latest example of how extreme weather creates additional nightmares for farmers and makes food more expensive every day. For instance, as of August 2021, world food prices soared 31 percent YOY, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.

THE BEVERAGE INDUSTRY FACES A GLASS AND ALUMINUM SHORTAGE

The beverage industry is dealing with a shortage of glass bottles and aluminum cans as shipping delays, labor constraints, and higher material costs slow packaging supply chains. The glass shortage has occurred because the demand for alcohol spiked during the pandemic. It also hit in time for the winter holidays, which see two of the biggest days of the year for alcohol sales: Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve.

In this case, David Ozgo of the Distilled Spirits Council said glass shortages are being felt throughout the sector, whether it’s tequila, vodka, or whiskey. It’s important to note that most of the glass bottles used in the U.S. come from outside the country, so it’s yet another industry affected by the global supply chain delays. 

Likewise, Vintage Wine Estates has seen the glass shortage weigh on its revenue. In its most recent quarter, their revenue rose only three percent. While that’s still positive, they experienced seven million dollars worth of delayed shipments tied to glass shortages. Had it not been for that, their revenue would’ve increased by 16 percent.

Equally important is that beverages served in aluminum cans are also experiencing a shortage. To clarify, in North America, aluminum cans are currently sold out over the next 24-36 months, and supply is not estimated to catch up to demand until 2025 or 2026. Furthermore, while typical grocery categories are experiencing 5 to 10 percent of all products out of stock right now, beverage shortages are higher, with around 13 percent missing from shelves.

One of the reasons for the aluminum can shortage is the recent growth of companies using aluminum cans for their products. This year, nearly 75 percent of all new beverages were packaged in aluminum cans, compared to only 30 to 40 percent of beverages over the last five years. This means more companies are fighting for a limited supply. 

LIMITED TEMPERATURE-CONTROLLED STORAGE

The demand for refrigerated warehouses is soaring, but it’s getting harder to both find and build more of it. Temperature-controlled storage is critical to many sectors, from grocery to pharmaceutical companies. The growing demand for cold storage facilities comes from the need to stock Covid vaccines, and companies that need those warehouses for perishable goods. Because of this, the total capacity of refrigerated warehouses worldwide increased by 16.7 percent from 2018 to 2020. Additionally, the global warehousing and storage market size is expected to have grown from 426 billion in 2020 to 447.6 billion in 2021. By 2025, it’s estimated to reach 627.5 billion.

Likewise, by 2027, cold storage construction is projected to reach $18.6 billion in value or an increase of 14 percent per year. Yet, the effort to build new temperature-controlled storage is being held back by rising costs and material shortages. Notably, the pandemic’s impact on cold chain storage cannot be understated. In the U.S. alone, facilities are running at a maximum capacity, according to JLL. Consequently, new construction is usually favored to support demand, but given the shortages and complexity of temperate-controlled storage facilities, many developers are looking at easier projects that need fewer materials, such as adding floors to existing facilities.

ONE WAY TO STAY AHEAD OF TRENDS IN THE FOOD & BEVERAGE INDUSTRY

No matter the trends in the food and beverage industry, having a logistics resource, consultant, or expert is one way to stay ahead. Whatever phrase you want to use but ultimately, have support on your side for any complex situations. This is where a third-party logistics company (3pl) such as Trinity can come in. We can help you find creative solutions to your logistics challenges.

With over 40 years in business and cold storage provider Burris Logistics as our parent company, we’re experienced in both cold chain and complicated situations. We stay knowledgeable on what’s going on in your industry and keep you updated too. We know, even in times of disruption, your industry doesn’t stop, so neither do we.

If you’re ready to have Trinity Logistics on your side for logistics support and expertise, no matter the industry trends, then let’s get connected.

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Author: Christine Morris