Tis’ the season for consumer spending! According to the National Retail Federation, consumer spending will increase by approximately 4% compared to last year during the holidays. During the busiest and most competitive shopping season of the year, retailers must make hungry shoppers a priority but also look toward the new year that is quickly approaching. Given the rapidity at which consumer tastes change and purchasing habits fluctuate, U.S. food companies should put at least four updates to key processes on their wishlist this season to keep up with consumers and make 2019 a thriving year.

Quicker research and development capabilities

Major food companies have historically taken 18-24 months to launch a new product, but this pace has recently been accelerated in order to bring new offerings to consumers in as little as six months. Tyson Innovation Lab just launched their first six-month product, Yappah, with the goal of driving quick innovation, promoting new growth, and increasing the speed at which new products go to market.

Craft food production facilities

Major food companies are also altering their approach to production. Many food companies are creating small-scale facilities designed with the capability to run small production quantities, versus large amounts. This gives large food companies the ability to deal with startup order sizes.

Flexible sales channels

Creating more adaptable sales channels, such as selling directly to the consumer, assists large food companies with receiving feedback about customer preferences. A pop-up store is one of the latest ways that major food companies are communicating directly with consumers without a retailer in the middle.

Testing like technology companies

Working diligently to add core A/B testing to websites along with other tests allows for knowledge to be captured about what is best for consumers. Building two versions of a home page and testing to see which one gives better click-through traffic can be very helpful with directing future marketing efforts toward consumer interests.

The new year is the perfect time to revise strategies and polish processes. These four key processes can assist U.S. food companies with successfully competing with startups and will allow their business to drive organic growth agendas to attain the results that their C-suite and investors are expecting.