As the food and beverage industry continues to focus on the millennial generation, more brands are reaching out with messages of convenience and mobility. Ready-to-drink (RTD) meal replacements have even been mooted as a way forward for consumers, with breakfast drinks enjoying steady growth.
Can RTD meal drinks be truly nutritional? And should we fear for the future of traditional mealtimes, and the social interactions that come with them?
Benjamin Kremer, co-founder of meal replacement drink YFood, spoke to us about the future of mealtimes and some misconceptions of millennial consumers.
How are traditions surrounding mealtimes changing?
The main reason we are called YFood is that we aim our products towards Generation Y, currently aged between 18 and 35 years old. This generation has less time, they are more mobile than ever before, and they’ve grown up in the smartphone age. This is the generation that is more health-focused than ever before.
We recognise these wants from this consumer base and realised there was no real food solution that could fulfil this three-dimensional desire of being quick, mobile, and healthy. That’s why we created YFood.
The trends point to people differentiating between two types of meals. The first aims to be efficient, healthy, but not too expensive. The second kind will be the social mealtime when consumers sit down with their friends and family. Time and money saved with the more efficient mealtimes can be spent during the social ones.
Millennials are largely perceived to be ‘the lazy generation’. Are products such as meal drinks and powders not just enabling this, and feeding an unsustainable consumer habit?
Millennials, or Generation Y, are actually the people now putting much more importance on things like self-fulfilment than any other generation before. The generation born in the 1950s and 1960s place much more value on materialism because they made sacrifices when they were younger in the post-war era, and are making up for that now.
Members of Generation Y want to share things, and their main goal is to live a fulfilled life, which is reflected in their eating behaviours. In order to have that kind of lifestyle, you need time for yourself and to do the things you want – for example in reaching career goals.
YFood reflects this completely in our ready-to-drink products to allow time for people to have that self-fulfilment.
Meal replacement drinks are seen as one of those stereotypical ‘vision of the future’ concepts? Do you think this is an area that will genuinely go mainstream at some point?
Meal replacement drinks are not a niche product; we plan to enter retail in September to cooperate with larger retailers.
Not all of our clients are actually millennials, but a portion of our consumers are older. We have consumers from all walks of society – from truck drivers to investment bankers to students. This indicates the potential for mainstream ready-to-drink meal replacement products.
How difficult is it to get consumers to buy into meal replacement drinks: consumers do like food, so is it not a hard sell?
Meal replacement drinks are not the standalone staple of diets, but they are an option for people with hectic schedules.
There will always be an area of a consumer’s life where a meal replacement drink would be beneficial – for example, for breakfast in the morning because you want to sleep later. The consumer can take their YFood and drink it on a commute to save time. Or, a student might come home late at night and want something more nutritional than fast food.
What about the impact on health, too? How difficult a sell is it to get consumers to understand that meal replacement drinks can be nutritionally equivalent to a balanced diet?
YFood drinks were developed with leading food scientists in Germany, so we developed a product with experts to create a product that was nutritionally balanced in every way. Credibility is the way forward for ready-to-drink meal products.
What sort of timeline do you see for this category: where do you think the end-point is, and how long will it take to get there?
I think that this will become a €1 billion in Europe within the next 3-5 years. Meal replacement drinks have the potential to become one of the core food and beverage products in the future.
© FoodBev Media Ltd 2019