TORONTO — The Coffee Association of Canada held its annual conference this year at the Design Exchange in Toronto. The all-day event featured a comprehensive list of speakers from all facets of the coffee industry, including experts in coffee innovation; food regulation, trade and fraud; the science of coffee; sustainability in coffee production; and current trends in coffee consumption — in both retail and foodservice sectors.
A panel of industry experts, which included Robert Carter, executive director of Foodservice Canada with the NPD Group Inc.; Michael Edwards, founder and Market Research consultant at DIG Insights; and Sophie Morrisseau, Marketing Effectiveness manager at Nielsen came together to give the audience a detailed report on coffee trends in 2016.
The trio echoed the overarching message that, despite the foodservice market being fraught with many challenges, opportunities are there for operators who are willing to innovate. “When we look at where market growth is coming from across the food industry, it’s really about innovation,” said Carter. “There are a lot of choices out there for consumers and it’s important for coffee servers to continue to evolve to drive growth in the market place.”
The group also highlighted where growth is, and is not, taking place. “There’s not a lot of growth in volume,” Carter shared, noting the percentage of Canadian coffee drinkers has only risen by one per cent since 1998, from 66 per cent to 67 per cent. In the foodservice sector, the change in volume of coffee sold has been less than one per cent for the past five years. Carter, therefore, concluded that coffee-sale volumes in both the retail and foodservice sectors are stagnant. “But what we do see is that there’s good dollar growth,” he added. Consumers are willing to spend more on a cup of coffee than in past years. This is driven, in part, by the millennial generation. Specialty coffee, made possible only through innovation, is giving consumers a reason to buy a more expensive cup of joe. Carter mentioned examples of recent innovations that have had great marketplace reception, such as cold-brew coffees — popularized by Starbucks — and most recently, the nitro cold-brew coffee.
The lesson that attendees took away from the presentation was that the industry cannot wait for more consumers to start drinking coffee — as the market research clearly indicates — but it can take action now to invent new coffee products in order to bring back existing customers and drive the dollar value in Canada’s second-most popular beverage segment.
Written By Eric Alister