Radical change might be reshaping the future of food and drink, but our 35 years of new product testing and Foodfax market screening reaffirms that styles and formats might change but the demand for something new and different is constant.
But what is the future of new product development at a time when many NPD teams, in both the supply chain and the major multiples, have either been furloughed or redirected to meet rising demand for existing lines?
The brave and the visionary will be already at work; what kind of new products will consumers be looking for?
The home is now the heart of our eating experience; we’re spending more time in the kitchen, we’ve become a nation of cooks again with more home baking and cooking from basic ingredients. And there is nothing like a major health scare to make us re-evaluate our diet, even before the government’s latest focus on tackling obesity. But for most this means seeking a more balanced way of eating. Social Media driven ‘clean eating’ or exclusion diets are tempered with a desire for moderation; for healthy, good value, mid-week meal solutions but also weekend treats; a continued interest in new protein sources but also for local, seasonal and sustainably sourced ingredients.
Lockdown has also fuelled a duel desire for comfort food, for a traditional home-made cottage pie or the retro sugary creaminess of Butterscotch Delight, but also for variety from more experimental or untried dishes – either from newly acquired culinary skills or forced by a limited supply of groceries. As lockdown eases at a time of reduced options for an eating out experience, it’s no surprise that sales of BBQ food have skyrocketed despite mixed summer weather, alongside increased interest in premium treats to share with our hand-picked selection of family and friends.
Opportunities for NPD teams are right there for the taking, from exciting and innovative premium treats for in-home dining, through easy to prepare component meals and value options.
When schools and businesses return to the new norm and life moves up a gear, we’ll be looking to the supermarket and innovative brands to inspire us. The added challenge for marketeers is to get the price right and to capture our imagination in-store and on-line to tempt us to buy. With a stretched economy and a predicted recession, the opportunities are wider than ever before.