21 April 2017
And, it’s a wrap! The inaugural ProFood Tech attracted nearly 6,500 attendees, many of whom stopped by our booth to learn how to get Future Ready.
 
In case you missed the show, here are our takeaways, best enjoyed with a refreshing beverage – birch water, anyone?
 
Innovate or die
This may sound like something out of Silicon Valley – the place and the television series. In fact, it’s as true in food and beverage as it is in technology. Brands must continually innovate their operations, automating and digitizing where possible to cut costs, create efficiencies and enable informed, real-time decision making. All of this work behind the scenes matters deeply to consumers, and will continue to as their needs evolve and change.

As Andrei Soroka, our global commercial director, plant automation and information said at the show, “Consumers now want to have products specific for them. Brands must build trust and transparency with consumers and find a way to link production to them.”

So think of operational innovation as making every cog in a machine relevant to the consumer journey. This mindset is the core of Tetra Pak® Services, which help brands maximize efficiencies and build brand loyalty in tandem.

Push environmental performance
Sustainability is good for the planet and for business. Both consumers and retailers are taking notice of brands that are more environmentally friendly and rewarding them with shelf space, market share and brand loyalty. We recently wrote about big box retailers such as Walmart publishing sustainability playbooks, and how meeting these metrics is linked to getting on the shelf. As such, brands are going beyond sourcing ingredients sustainably or supporting environmental causes. Many are taking a holistic look at their operations with the planet in mind.

As an example, brands that tout their ability to save water and show measurable progress from year to year have a fresh story to tell every time they hit a milestone. Assessing the full value chain can help brands determine a compelling strategy for pushing environmental performance, and when results can be communicated.

“Communication is the final piece of the sustainability puzzle. Communicate the effective results of your environmental story, because consumers and retailers care,” Elisabeth Comere, our director environment & government affairs for the U.S. and Canada, shared during the Rethinking Environmental Impact panel.

How about that birch water?
The water market just keeps flowing without slowing. This puts pressure on brands to innovate not only in terms of types of water – maple, birch, coconut and flavored waters are all wetting consumers’ whistles and opening their wallets – but also in terms of packaging. The majority of consumers consider themselves eco-conscious, so brands looking to capitalize on value-based purchasing and people’s thirst for water can consider paperboard cartons made from renewable materials as a packaging option.

Similarly, nutritional beverages are also on a growth trajectory across categories (kids, adults, weight management and sport protein) as consumers look for more on-the-go options and adhere to the clean label trend. As Chris Gretchko, our VP of marketing, put it, “The higher the degree that you can reformulate your products to be simpler, the more consumers will take notice.”

Those are just three of the show’s key takeaways that we’re taking to heart – you can find others on Storify. Whether or not you went to ProFood Tech, what food and beverage trends have you spotted? Let us know on Twitter and LinkedIn, and don’t forget to follow us!
 
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