When it comes to food and beverage development, healthy usually is among the top considerations. In Beverage Industry’s 2016 New Product Development Outlook  report published in the January  issue, only 14 percent of respondents listed convenience a low need/interest. The remaining 86 percent was segmented into moderate need/interest (12 percent), high need/interest (54 percent) and this is the latest trend (20 percent). However, for consumers, deciding what is healthy now can have a digital influence.

That healthy influence can be found in online searches. According to an analysis of mobile search activity by Hitwise, a division of Connexity, 72 percent of online food and beverage searches are conducted on a smartphone or tablet.

Searches that contained “is” or “are” were conducted 88 percent of the time on a mobile device. For example: Are juices gluten free or is soy milk vegan? Research searches also are popular. Consumers can learn the number of calories in a product, find substitution suggestions for an ingredient or gather information on a food recall. Seventy-nine percent of these searches took place on a smartphone or tablet.

Yet, the online search that was conducted the most on a mobile device was related to the alcohol sector. According to Hitwise, 95 percent of searches relating to shots come from mobile devices. Ninety percent of alcohol searches were done on smartphones and tablets as well.

“When hungry consumers are out and about and looking for somewhere to eat, they turn to their smartphone,” said John Fetto, senior analyst for Hitwise, in a statement. “When hungry consumers are looking for inspiration for a home-cooked meal or a quick tip, they reach for their smartphone or tablet — the modern cookbook — and get the information they need whether they’re standing in their kitchen or wandering the aisles of a supermarket. Food and beverage marketers need to understand that when consumers make a selection from their search results, they don’t want to pinch and zoom their way across an unresponsive site for the information they need.”

In order to fulfill consumers’ food and beverage search needs, beverage companies will need to ensure that their online communications align with this on-the-go trend.