“There is a revolution going on in the food industry”, says Charles Banks, co-founder of the Food People, a consultancy.
As he is a man with a useful map that explains the revolution in ways that attentive retailers can use to make money, his presentation at this year’s Speciality and Fine Food Fair in London attracts a crowd.
The revolution is being driven by four big ideas that consumers are paying attention to, says Banks. His consultants label these ideas: Nurture Us, Freedom & Fear, Kind to Me, and Flamboyance. As forecasters, they also predict how long each trend will last. The first two are with us until 2030. The latter two for the next five years.

The big idea that consumers will pay for

Nurture Us is a term that describes the concern of more and more consumers that the food that they buy has a smaller impact on the planet. This is the reason why there is so much interest in plant-based foods – the meatless burger, for example. It is also the reason why there is a renewed interest in veganism.
The concerned consumer also wants their food to be less processed, to create less packaging waste, and to avoid single-use plastic.
“Consumers will pay more for products that clearly and demonstrably deliver on their promised purpose,” says Banks.

A trend for everyone

A supplier asks if retailers everywhere should pay attention to this trend. Yes, says Banks. What started amongst millennial consumers and in food capitals is now everywhere. The important thing is the mindset of your customer. If you look for Nurture Us consumers you will find them.
He explains that consumers feel powerless In terms of the big picture with what is happening to the planet. But on an individual level, there are actions they can take. As a result, shoppers are buying more fish, especially from sustainable fisheries, and supporting traditional ways of preparing food.

What else is big

Technology is impacting the food industry in two ways, captured in the phrase Freedom & Fear. On the one hand, there are new ways of using technology to prepare food and to engage with consumers. On the other, there is increased concern from shoppers about where their food has come from. Some major suppliers are now using blockchain technology to inform consumers about where their food originated and what happened to it on the way to their shopping basket.
Closely linked to this is the idea of Kind to Me food. As people have more health information supplied to them on their phones, this will start to impact on the food they choose in-store. Some start-ups are now offering apps that allow shoppers to scan barcodes at the point of sale and choose items that are appropriate to their DNA.
The final idea that is driving shopper decisions is the desire to be part of a community of like-minded consumers. Called Flamboyance, this is why market halls are popular today and why new ways of preparing food attract interest.

What to do?

Retail owners should familiarise themselves with the underlying drivers behind the new product development that they are being offered continually. Taking advantage of Flamboyance is comparatively easy. If you have customers buying speciality gins, adding botanicals will generate interest. If it doesn’t work, delist.
But being part of longer-term trends toward Nurture Us may require you to change your business model and to have a better understanding of the nutritional value of food that you sell.

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