Our food and drinks manufacturing expert, Jane Milton, explores the top six trends that manufacturers and producers should be aware of this year.
Provenance and sustainability
Provenance and sustainability are, without a doubt, the two most important food trends in the food and drink industry at the moment, as they affect so many different areas.
It is becoming more important to customers and retailers to understand exactly where ingredients come from. Therefore, tell your stories: give credit to producers you work for, and use social media to share those stories which are unique to your product.
Sustainability is a great business practice and makes good financial sense. It should also touch every part of your business – the resources you use; how you dispose of waste; how you package your goods; how you transport them; and what you do with any excess stock you have at any point in your product journey. Again, you want your retailers and end customers to understand this, but try not to overdo it so it comes across as a marketing strategy.
When it comes to plant-based products, quality is of huge importance to consumers. Consumer survey research (Global Data Global Consumer Survey Q3 2019) shows that 71% of global consumers find plant-based food and drink products ‘somewhat/very appealing’. This shows just how far this category has come over the last few years. In the beginning, there was such scarcity of products that consumers couldn’t be too choosy. Now, not only has the number of products increased but the quality has increased as well, and consumers are starting to ask for more information: the provenance of the ingredients, the nutritional balance and how it has been produced.
The plant-based food industry still largely serves flexitarians and people wanting to reduce their consumption of meat for reasons of sustainability, ethics or diet choice rather than vegans. There is no sign of this growth stopping, but the quality of the products that businesses produce will have to continue to rise in most cases. There are some great examples of businesses rising to this challenge. Veggie Pret (the all-vegetarian stores of the Pret A Manger group) recently launched a new 19-strong menu featuring 15 vegan products, such as plant-based poke bowls, smoothie bowls and Buddha bowls. Halo Burger, a plant-based burger bar, has launched its second site in Shoreditch, east London. This will be its first ‘brick and mortar’ site, with its original base being part of Pop Brixton. Halo Burger has made waves due to its claims to be the first brand in the UK to offer a 100% plant-based bleeding burger.
New and interesting flours are being brought into the market that will please a wide array of people – adventurous bakers, those with intolerances and allergies and anyone looking to boost the nutritional value of their baking.
The sources of these flours are fruit and vegetables – cauliflower, banana, and tiger-nut, just to name a few. Some will be found in the baking aisles, with others being found in pre-made foods, such as snacks, crisps and pastries, as manufacturers start to replace more traditional flours with these creative alternatives.
West African cuisine
The ‘cuisine’ tipped to get attention in 2020 is West African. More and more of their indigenous superfoods, ingredients and flavours are appearing on menus – think moringa, baobab, tamarind, peanuts, ginger and lemongrass. They are even adding to the flour trend with cereal grains traditionally used in West Africa becoming more well known here, such as sorghum, fonio, teff and millet. Jump on the bandwagon by finding ways of including some of these exotic and exciting flavours in your products.
Snacking continues to be on the increase, which has resulted in constant innovation and the production of a huge number of new items. Consumers are looking for fresh snacks, which is having a huge impact on the ‘food on the go’ market. The industry has pounced on this, and we are seeing more snacks of the sort we’d usually prepare at home appearing in shop refrigerators: hard-boiled eggs with savoury toppings, pickled vegetables, mini dips and dippers, all provided in single portions perfectly sized for snacking. Another impact of this fresh style is on the ingredients list – they are getting shorter as fewer ingredients are required, which will also please consumers who want to see basic, simple ingredients.
The final trend tipped to grow exponentially in 2020 is zero-alcohol drinks. Everything from lower sugar soft drinks to alcohol-free spirits are filling bar menus, and even supermarkets such as Lidl are developing their own products. These zero-alcohol offerings often use distilling methods that are usually used for alcohol. These methods produce an alternative liquor, which is designed to be used with a mixer rather than to be drunk on its own. Examples are alt-gin for gin and tonics and botanical-infused spirits for a ‘faux martini’. If you add these to other options, such as products enjoyed straight from the bottle or can, then there is certainly no need to feel dull or left out if you don’t drink alcohol or are cutting back on your consumption.
With this year’s trends encompassing so much creativity and innovation, hopefully you’ve found some inspiration for ways you can kick off 2020.