Independent Marketing Alliance Predicts Top Foodservice Trends in 2020

HOUSTON —Independent Marketing Alliance (IMA), an exclusive network of independent market share leaders in foodservice distribution with 16 exclusive brands, has revealed their 2020 predictions for the foodservice industry. The group believes consumer trends drive changes operators must consider in order to stay relevant and drive growth.

“Consumer-driven movements will continue to define the key growth drivers in the new year across the foodservice industry,” said IMA CEO Rob Mould. “Consumers today are prioritizing dining outside of the home, looking for broader choices and something new when eating out. The increasing popularity of   private brands provides more options and quicker go-to-market strategies to best deliver to evolving consumer demands and operator needs. It is crucial for every level of foodservice to understand these changing demands in order to attract consumers and stay competitive in this increasingly fast pace landscape.”

Through in-depth market research conducted in the development of their brands, Independent Marketing Alliance (IMA) has complied insights and identified four critical opportunities for growth in the foodservice industry in 2020:

  • Clean Labeling Will Be Rewarded: Through IMA’s research, 65% of North American consumers said they’d seek out and pay more for products free of undesirable ingredients. Private label brands have given distributors and suppliers additional options for operators to offer differentiated new products in clean label brands, which results in an increased bottom line.
  • Carryout Systems Must be Robust: The past year revealed a continued increase in the number of people ordering out to dine at home or in the office, rather than in restaurant and other offsite locations. The statistics are staggering, with 86% of consumers using off premise services at least monthly and a third using it more than they did a year ago. This trend has also driven a dramatic increase in third party delivery service options further facilitating growth in carryout.
  • Restaurants Will Carry More Ethnic Foods: Menu trends are showing global and ethnic food categories are projected to grow at a CAGR of 11.8% during the forecast period as consumers are becoming more globalized and open to experimenting with new cuisines. This trend is also fueled by a demand for more variety, choice and flavor across all demographic groups.
  • Sustainable Products Are Highly Valued:  In 2020, consumers want to better understand the full lifecycle of a food product, from where and how it was grown, why it is better nutritionally and whether it is better for the environment. With 24% of consumers always or usually considering sustainability when purchasing, sustainability has truly become a competitive focus of not just the farmer, but the supplier, the distributor and the operator as well in achieving growth.

As an association, IMA has realized strong growth in their leading private label program with an expansion of more than 200 new products to their brand portfolio to capitalize on these and other key trends. Their differentiated offering helped the network achieve a strong competitive position in the marketplace in 2019 with the addition of two new members distributors to their select independent distributor alliance.  

IMA is comprised of an exclusive group of independent market share, foodservice distribution leaders across the US, including Shamrock Foods, Reinhart Foodservice, Nicholas and Company, Maines Paper & Foodservice, Merchants Foodservice, Y. Hata & Co. and Harbor Foods Group. The IMA buying and marketing group manages sixteen exclusive brands and combines volume to achieve more competitive pricing, while outpacing the industry through a commitment to providing its members a differentiated program with the most innovative marketing and product solutions for their restaurant and foodservice customers nationwide.

About Independent Marketing Alliance

For more than 18 years, Independent Marketing Alliance (IMA) has provided advantaged and innovative food service solutions nationally through an exclusive network of independently operated food service distributors. The company provides full service, differentiated, exclusive branded products, volume buying power, superior customer service, local expertise and consultation for food service clients across America. To learn more about IMA visit or call 281-531-0007.