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PLMA 2022: Three Trends Worth Noticing

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The Private Label Manufacturers Association convention is finally back, and better than ever. There’s always a lot to take in at PLMA, and this year was no exception. Experienced con-goers noted big crowds and big energy – but beyond that, there are a few trends worth keeping an eye on as you choose products to stock your shelves in 2023.

Plant-based picks up steam

Plant-based products have been making waves recently, and they aren’t slowing down. Where vegan and vegetarian options used to be fairly niche, they’re now popping up everywhere. Some of that is helped by the fact that modern meat substitutes taste much better than they did even ten years ago, but plant-based is appearing on more than just meat or dairy substitutes. Many traditionally plant-based products are now calling it out on their labels where they haven’t before. Even meat- or dairy-based products are supplementing their recipes with plant-based ingredients. 

Driving this trend are people who are attempting to reduce their consumption of animal products, often without fully eliminating them, because of perceptions about their impact on climate. This is separate from the “usual suspects” of veganism and vegetarianism, who are primarily concerned with animal welfare and personal health. Additionally, “plant-based” does not have a history of scrutiny as a labeling claim, making it easier to use than other health-related claims. 

Spotlight on sustainability

Sustainability is another consumer concern that has gone from niche to mainstream. There is rising demand for products that are produced in an environmentally conscious manner, from sustainable farming practices to green manufacturing processes. Of course, this takes increased transparency in labeling and in marketing materials, so a good relationship and clear communication with your suppliers is critical. 

Focus on flavor

As global flavors enter the mainstream, consumer palates are becoming increasingly sophisticated. Foods that were once novel and mostly accessible through ethnic restaurants or the rare home cook are now commonplace and have entered the vernacular for more and more home cooks. With that shift comes increased demand for once specialty ingredients and seasonings, which are making appearances in everyday dishes and not just special occasions. Home cooks are looking for ingredients that help them create layered, nuanced flavors. This is driven by the home cooking renaissance that has followed in the wake of COVID-19. 

The bottom line

If there’s one constant you can count on, it’s evolving consumer tastes and trends. Keeping up with those trends takes time, attention and a supply partner who understands them and can offer key insights

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