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2018 Year in Review: Food & Beverage Culture

These were the hot topics about the companies, foods and consumer behaviors that shaped and shook up the marketplace this year. Which will carry the heat into 2019?

2018 A year in reviewAldi, Amazon, Blue Apron, clean label, coffee flour, convenience in meals, gluten-free, GMOs, income inequality and food insecurity, all things organic (and natural), plant-based foods and changing shopper behaviors were among the most popular stories and infographics in our newsletter this year.

There was enthusiastic interest in stories about how technology and online retailing are continuing to disrupt and transform the food and beverage marketplace. From our vantage point, however, we believe the highlights of the year once again coalesced around consumers as change agents as they expect more from food and beverage manufacturers, retailers and restaurant operators.

Here, then, is a baker’s dozen of the most popular topics from this year. The following list was prepared from a review of the most widely viewed articles and infographics in this newsletter in 2018. While the list is indicative of what caught your attention this year, our analysts weighed in and rated each topic on how likely it will be a hot topic in 2019. The forecast rating scale is one to three red chili peppers. One red pepper means the story will have mild interest; three red peppers means the story will carry the heat into 2019.

Aldi and Lidl: Food Retailing Innovation or Just Keeping Up With Shoppers?

The implications of the expansion of discounters Aldi and Lidl continue to be a much-discussed topic while industry analysts, pundits and players keep an ever-watchful eye on what Amazon’s acquisition of Whole Foods Market portends for the coming months. Is Aldi’s pilot program really all that innovative or is it a sign that the retailer is playing catch-up with shoppers? Read story

How hot is this topic for 2019? heat-scale

Amazon Go: Cool Technology but a Soulless Shopping Experience

Everyone is aware these days that Amazon is now a serious player in food culture. Perhaps highest on the Amazon disruption barometer at the moment is all the hubbub emanating from the company’s new Amazon Go store, which opened this week in Seattle. Amazon Go: lots of hype about technology, but what about the food? Read story

How hot is this topic for 2019? Two red peppers

Will the Grocery Store Save Blue Apron?

The business model initially built on skipping the grocery store now turns to the grocery store for a lifeline. Read story

How hot is this topic for 2019? One red pepper

Hartman Insights: Understanding the Plant-Based Foods Trend

Consumers are looking to eat healthier foods, and plant-based is one approach that consumers can use. View infographic

How hot is this topic for 2019?  Three red peppers

The Convenience Factor in Modern Meals

Convenience foods have undoubtedly transformed the way entire generations of American consumers have cooked and savored food. Read story

How hot is this topic for 2019? two red peppers

Income Inequality and the Rise of Food Insecurity in America Today

No matter how you measure it, or how you spin it, income is intimately linked to food insecurity. Read story

How hot is this topic for 2019? two red peppers

Demographic Profile of Organic Consumers

Organic-product purchases are widespread, common choices today. The vast majority of U.S. consumers report using organic food and beverage products. View infographic

How hot is this topic for 2019?  three red peppers

Focus on Eating Gluten-free

Interest in gluten-free has not waned: more than one-fourth of consumers reported purchasing gluten-free products in the past three months. View infographic

How hot is this topic for 2019? two red peppers

Forces of Change: The Dramatic Transformation Occurring in America’s Mealtime Rituals

Long-term shifts in American culture have reshaped the way we live and eat today. Read story

How hot is this topic for 2019? two red peppers

The “Clean Label” Trend: When Food Companies Say “Clean Label,” Here’s What Consumers Understand

“Clean label” is a term that’s not part of consumers’ everyday vocabulary. “Clean” encompasses much more than what’s listed (or not listed) on a product’s ingredient label. View infographic

How hot is this topic for 2019? three red peppers

GMO Debate: Consumer Perspectives

Consumer awareness and concern around GMOs has intensified. Here’s a sampling of the pros and cons of GMOs from the consumer’s perspective in response to this question: Is AVOIDING genetically modified foods (GMOs) and ingredients important to you? View infographic

How hot is this topic for 2019? three red peppers

Healthy Eating Today: Consumers Are Building Their Own Customizable Food Pyramids

Today, consumers’ focus on fresh, less processed foods means that many find their own beliefs at odds with guidelines like the government’s “MyPlate.” View infographic

How hot is this topic for 2019? one red pepper

Coffee Flour: Emerging Ingredient Shows Potential as Sustainable “Future Food”

Coffee Flour is an agricultural innovation with the potential to do great things in terms of sustainability, food waste and nutrition. Read story

How hot is this topic for 2019? one red pepper




Food & Beverage Occasions Consumer Package Goods Health & Wellness Organic/Natural Sustainability Trends Foodservice/Restaurant


As leaders in the study of American food culture, The Hartman Group has been tracking how Americans shop for food since the 1990s. From one-stop shopping to multichannel shopping to online markets and click-and-collect, we continue to track consumers’ evolving perceptions, needs, habits and relationships with food retailers. New to the 2017 report is a special section on the expansion of the discount grocery channel, the emerging fresh-format channel and smaller-footprint retail formats.


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