For the last few years, we’ve been saying that convenience, health and traceability are three of the main trends when it comes to food and drink. And this still remains true today. If anything, these trends seem to be becoming even more prevalent.
The search for high quality, nutritionally-rich food, made by a trusted source has been the norm for discerning foodies for a while, but this approach is now increasingly being adopted by the mainstream market.
The trend in convenience has been largely driven by the ‘time-strapped.’ Those working long hours, who haven’t got the time to prepare meals or even those who don’t want to spend too much of their spare time in the kitchen.
As a result of this, we’ve seen huge growth in the ‘food-to-go’ industry and the plethora of options now available for this target audience.
Today's convenience foods allow for meals to be satisfying and nutritious while not taking too much valuable time to prepare, without the need to reach for the supermarket ready meal aisle or fast food counter.
Street food outlets are also an extension of this, offering hot, freshly-made food which people can easily consume ‘on-the go,’ removing the stress factor of people seeking and preparing food in line with their busy schedules.
A focus on being healthy is huge these days, with natural, free from and organic products gaining in popularity, and new superfood products frequently being launched. This year, for example, we’ve seen a rise in the cauliflower, grains such as quinoa and healthy snacks which have all provided an opening in the market for producers to jump on.
A lot of consumers these days are well-educated about how to look after themselves when it comes to nutrition thanks to the media (social, online and print), as well as the constant release of scientific research and new health-focused foods.
Currently, a healthy lifestyle is seen as a desirable one, and so the image of healthy food has begun to evolve from worthy to aspirational. A rise in health-conscious bloggers is having a big influence, inspiring consumers with healthy recipes and news of new foods to try.
Consequently, as well as mainstream markets making these desirable products widely available, smaller producers have also spotted openings in the market.
We’re increasingly seeing a desire from consumers to know where their food has come from as well as what is going into their food.
Food scandals such as ‘Horsegate’ have shed the light on the reality of supply chains, leading to mistrust amongst consumers and a desire for clarity regarding what's in their food. A short list of ingredients which doesn't contain additives is desired, as is detail on the provenance of the product.
In the fine food market, in particular, producers with a story and clear-cut supply chain will be more likely to be awarded consumers' hard-earned cash than a business with unclear morals.
Over the next couple of years, we’re not expecting these trends to change or die out. If anything, consumers' lives will become busier, health will become increasingly important to them, and the risk of more food scares will push them to purchase food they trust.
There is a real opportunity for rural businesses, to take advantage of the trend towards food traceability. The short supply chain they can offer, as well as the localisation, makes it relatively easy for producers to tell their story. Equally, by being active on social media there is the opportunity to attract the growing contingent of customers who are looking to connect more with their food.
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