1 Food & Drink Trends The Happen team joined 1,350 brands at this years International Food & Drink Event on 19 th March. These are trends and tastemakers that need to be on your agenda.
2 Bursting with inspiration, The International Food & Drink Event is a celebration of 1,350 innovative, global and cutting-edge food & drink manufacturers. Among the rows of plant-based snacks and sugar-free protein bars this year, there were a few surprising innovations - take the instant tea spray, No More Tea Bags, which promises 20 cups of concentrated brew from each 200ml bottle. Startups in the snacks and drinks categories were represented in abundance over full meal innovations, and a number of rising trends proved there is an excitement in the industry that cannot be dampened by the uncertain political climate. In fact, we saw an unusual amount of indulgent, beautifully and brightly packaged treats and snacks, from confectionary to cocktails. Here are our biggest takeaways from this year s event. 1. Taste is king 2. Anything that can be puffed or popped, will be 3. Plant-based is growing fast 4. Botanical bursts in everything 5. Adaptogens: the buzzword of the moment 6. Provenance and transparency 7. Cocktails and convenience 8. The circular economy 2
3 1 Taste is king Unusual flavour and texture combinations abounded, from lemongrass and chilli peanut brittle to marmite popcorn. Spicy and sensorial are top contenders for making lowsugar, low-calorie snacks a more exciting proposition. Healthy food has been associated with tasteless food in the past, commented Happen Client Director Kate Parry, speaking at IFE s Talking Trends stage. We are seeing a lot of strong flavours like chilli and wasabi that are natural and give you that flavour hit - anything that can add more indulgent, sensory values to health food. Ingredients and flavours from Asia dominated at IFE, making Mediterranean-style foods - which have traditionally owned the healthy eating space - seem less exciting in comparison. On the drinks side, we saw Yuzu juice from Japan and Ekobryggeriet Nordic tonic water (plus a complementary range of tonic sorbets). On-trend ingredients are also transitioning over to alcohol: Innovation in spirits around kombucha and dairyfree are blurring the boundaries between what is a sophisticated-tasting adult drink, and what is an alcoholic drink, says Sarah McCarthy, Head of GB On Trade Category Development at Diageo. More people are looking for depth of flavour that matches their lifestyle choice. 3
4 2 Anything that can be puffed or popped, will be Healthy snacking is everywhere. Aside from the glut of protein balls and vegan snack bars, we learned that if you try hard enough you can turn anything into a healthy crisp alternative. Oats, vegetables and pasta were puffed or popped and imbued with strong flavours. Many boast similar health claims, and differentiation may prove to be a struggle. Lotus seeds were the surprise ingredient we encountered with one brand, Guruji, launching just days before IFE and offering Smoky Thai, Cheesy Vegan, Lightly Salted and Salt & Cacao flavours. The seeds claim to tick almost every trend going today, being gluten-free, vegan, low calorie, plantbased proteins, hand farmed and sustainably grown. 4
5 3 Plant-based is growing fast Labelling vegetable crisps as plant-based? Probably not necessary. But it shows the trend is only accelerating, and everyone wants in. It also means differentiation in the space is vital, and brands are approaching this from different angles. Gut Instinct, founded with the goal of improving people s physical and mental health by means of better nutrition, will have a range of vegan mayonnaise and cheese alternatives to join its plantbased yoghurts and milk alternatives. It claims its milk alternatives are perfect for tea and coffee, using Barista Edition branding to drive this point home. Elsewhere at IFE, Dr Mary s Sproutin seemed to be for purists - a wheat-sprout spread, claiming to be rich in protein and fibre, but without an obvious flavour punch. Labelling vegetable crisps as plantbased? Probably not necessary. But it shows the trend is only accelerating, and everyone wants in. 5
6 4 Botanical bursts in everything The botanicals trend is rising in the non- and low- alcoholic drinks space. We liked Bumble Zest, a Batterseabased startup that combines ingredients with popular health claims - such as charcoal, collagen, spirulina and milk thistle - with fragrant botanicals including lavender and rosemary. The Ketel One Botanicals range of lowalcohol vodka drinks also fits the bill for health-conscious demographics. They are made the same way as gin, but with no juniper, says Diageo s Sarah McCarthy. It s ideal for those keen for the authenticity of flavour, who want to be onboard with the gin craze. 6
7 5 Adaptogens: the buzzword of the moment Consumers are increasingly tracking and modifying their own health behaviours - whether through activity trackers or at-home blood tests such as Thriva - and food brands are responding by promoting key health ingredients in their products. The latest addition to the health and wellbeing buzzword dialect, adaptogens are thought to help boost the body's stress defences. Popularised by the Goopapproved LA brand Moon Juice (which sells different combinations of adaptogens, herbs and plants that promise to boost your brains, beauty and sex life), the ingredient is cropping up in teas, coffees and coconut butters, and even made an appearance in New York massage and manicure salon Chillhouse, which has launched its own line of adaptogen powders. And while big brands will have to be wary of how they emphasise the health benefits (there is not enough research to backup the health claims surrounding adaptogens for use in the pharmacology industry), at IFE we saw startups putting its claimed anti-stress, recovery and tissue-repair properties front and centre. Case in point was Abakus Foods Red Dates, which come in a soft and crisp variety. Elsewhere at IFE we saw aloe vera and seaweed oil making an impact. 7
8 6 Provenance and transparency Consumers want to know where their food is coming from, how it was treated, and what s in it. Transparency around every aspect of the food supply chain is becoming vital to communicating a brand s integrity and ethics. This is true of fruits, vegetables, meats and cheese - all of which were represented in abundance from smallhold suppliers at IFE - but also drinks. Provenance is becoming important - field to bottle - and we need a little more transparency from the industry, commented Mixology Group cofounder Myles Cunliffe, speaking at the Talking Trends stage. There have been a few Scottish gins that were actually made too far south of the border, for instance Happen s Kate Parry adds: "There is a desire for natural, transparently produced goods. We are seeing a more holistic view of how we produce, pack and transport our food - and that is what our consumers want to see. If you ship your product hundreds of miles and wrap it in plastic, it defeats the purpose of buying organic." There is a desire for natural, transparently produced goods. If you ship your product hundreds of miles and wrap it in plastic, it defeats the purpose of buying organic. Kate Parry, Happen 8
9 Cocktails and 7 convenience Moving cocktails to the front of the bar sears your name into the consumer s mind Jack Orr-Ewing, The Duppy Share Draft cocktails are having a moment, with espresso martinis being the most popular variety to date (since it removes unnecessary shaking, according to Mixology Group cofounder Myles Cunliffe). They allow for speed and consistency of flavour, and Diageo s Sarah McCarthy says the excitement factor around the 14 Ketel One espresso martini machines they have installed around the country, has been huge. By moving cocktails to the front of the bar, you get the visibility and sear your name into the consumer s mind, says Jack Orr-Ewing, CEO of rum brand The Duppy Share. To be able to make amazing cocktails, delivered perfectly every time with no training to the staff - that s an exciting innovation. Some ingredients are trickier to introduce in draft form - fresh citrus, for instance, adds so much cost it makes it untenable. But brands are experimenting with alternatives such as citric acid, to keep the flavour and shelf life, without the spiralling costs. There s a huge amount of innovation in it, and it's only just begun, adds Orr-Ewing. 9
10 The circular 8 economy Food companies can supply to others what they usually throw away. Potato peelings, for instance, can be developed into new products for the construction industry. Carra Santos, Creative Futurist Reduce your waste, reduce your costs. This was the message brand consultant Carra Santos espoused at the Talking Trends stage. Although her fellow panelists pointed out it can sometimes be cheaper for big brands to sell their waste as feed, Santos argued that for many (and especially smaller brands) it is more cost effective to put their waste to good use in the circular economy. Food companies can supply to others what they usually throw away. Potato peelings, for instance, can be developed into new products for the construction industry. McCain s potato peelings are used to create a material that replaces toxic glues and chemicals for fixing cladding. Shells from the hospitality industry are also being broken down to make bioplastics.
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