Food Trends 2017
We take a look at the trends emerging in how British consumers shop and eat. Are our habits changing in response to growing awareness of diet-related health? How will Brexit affect our shopping baskets?
And how is social media changing our relationship with food?
1. Scratch cooking
There is a small but significant shift towards more people cooking from scratch as we realise that it is not only cheaper than buying pre-prepared food but healthier too. 49% of consumers are driven by the ability to control ingredients when cooking from scratch (Mintel Cooking in the Home UK May 2016).
2. Convenience and control
Our increasingly busy lifestyles mean convenience is still a major factor and there is evidence that we spend less time preparing meals than we used to. The combination of the desire to cook with fresh ingredients and the convenience of the pre-prepared is driving the demand for meal kits such as Gousto and Hello Fresh, this now followed by supermarkets introducing their own brand equivalents.
The growth of 1-2 person households amongst younger and older generations is also a factor in our meal choices and shopping habits. Smaller packs or portion sizes are key to appealing to these small households.
3. Food as self-expression
Cooking has become a leisure activity, a way to relax and be creative rather than just a functional task. While we may spend less time in our kitchens during the week we are likely to indulge in more creative cooking at weekends. “Eating in is the new eating out” according to the Waitrose 2016 Food & Drink Report.
We are inspired by television cookery shows such as The Great British Bake Off and Masterchef, as well as by social media. Cooking special meals at home, whether just for family or friends is seen as a genuine alternative to eating out and an opportunity to be creative and indulgent. Consumers will treat themselves to special and luxurious ingredients for these occasions. These consumers associate cooking with feeling confident, valued and relaxed rather than the more negative feelings of it being stressful, boring or annoying.
For marketers, tapping into this positive emotional aspect of cooking will increase sharing and engagement. Messages that focus on the enjoyment of cooking and eating together with family and friends will ultimately win loyalty.
4. Living well
Looking after our bodies no longer means dull diets and sacrificing flavour. UK Consumers have recognised that eating well is about making sensible choices as part of everyday life and that the occasional treat is okay.
We seek out lighter, fresher and simpler foods such as salads over sandwiches for lunch; though convenience is key we want to be healthy without having to make an effort.
5. Following the crowd
Social media, rather than traditional print and broadcast media, is driving food trends including the demand for perceived superfoods like chia, seaweed and spelt, while once exotic products, like quinoa and coconut water, are now mainstream.
We turn to bloggers and influencers like Deliciously Ella and Hemsley & Hemsley for advice just as much as we listen to health and nutrition professionals.
The impact of these ‘health gurus’ has driven the demand for gluten-free foods, not for essential health reasons, but because people perceive them to be healthier. Some retailers are reporting a tapering off in demand for gluten-free products at the same time as giving over more shelf-space to lactose-free products; demonstrating just how fast these trends come and go.
7. Rise of vegetarianism and veganism
UK consumers are turning their backs on the traditional plate of meat and two veg and moving towards a more plant-based diet. For many this is just a case of eating less meat and fish and choosing meat-free days; for others, younger consumers especially, it means rejecting animal products completely. In the last decade, the number of vegans in Britain has risen more than 360% according to a survey by the Vegan society. These numbers are expected to grow further.
8. Anytime is snack time
We are seeing a blurring of boundaries between traditional meal times with big increases in snacking between meals especially between lunch and breakfast. This pattern emerges as we try to fit more into busy lifestyles, with less time to sit down and eat. Households are less likely to come together for a meal.
We eat breakfast on the go and lunch at our desks, and brands are responding to this with new categories like breakfast drinks and formats such as snack-sized packs.
9. Conscious consumption
Consumers are more curious than ever before about where food comes from. A third of us care more about the environment and society than we did five years ago and two-thirds of us consider where food is sourced some of the time (Waitrose 2016 Food & Drink Report).
Millennials especially recognise how they have an ethical and environmental responsibility when making choices about what they eat and are conscious about what the brands they buy say about them, with two-thirds of 25-34-year-olds saying they ‘want to buy food & drink products that reflect their attitudes and opinions.’
For brands, this means creating credible and convincing messages about your product and communicating those credentials through all channels from packaging and point-of-sale to social media.
10. Looming food inflation
Food constitutes just 12% of disposable income in the UK, an all-time low after three years of deflation, according to analysts Sanford Bernstein. However, the fall of sterling following the 2016 referendum to leave the EU and continued uncertainty is starting to affect food prices, while UK farmers and food producers warn of rising prices due to increasing labour costs, with a shortfall in the number of European seasonal labourers working here.
Analysts predict that UK consumers will swallow these price rises up to a point, buoyed by intensifying competition between retailers for shoppers’ pound. But consumers are being warned to brace themselves for price rises – perhaps by as much as 8% on those products for which Britain is almost solely reliant on the EU.