Many of us use January as a time to re-set our diets, as if the start of the year wasn’t miserable enough. While abstinence is surely not a good thing for food manufacturers and retailers, there is money to be made from those pursuing a ‘healthier’ diet. There are also signs there will be more legislation on nutritional value which will have an impact on food development.
It seems that plant-based foods and alternatives will continue to be a big trend for food and drink innovation this year. Ironic perhaps that one of our top performers this month was the Rustlers ‘The Meaty Pepperoni Burger’ from Kepak. But we want inventive plant-based recipes, not simple cauliflower steaks or stuffed aubergines that command similar prices to a meat based equivalent.
With January in danger of being forever renamed Veganuary, we’ve tested 12 Vegan lines to assess acceptance amongst Vegetarians, Vegans, Flexitarians and Meat Reducers. Watch out for our February review to find out how these products fared.
What else do we expect to shape innovation this year? From the kind of research we’re being tasked to do, it’s clear that ethical shopping is on the rise. This used to be a niche market, but the issues of plastic packaging, food waste and non-sustainable Palm Oil have pushed it into the mainstream. Root vegetables continue to increase in popularity, and we are also seeing more dairy alternatives. We know that fermented foods are meant to be good for our gut but often, the likes of Kombucha, kefir and kimchi have remained a step too far when tested in their purest form. But with increasing evidence of the benefit of boosting gut health, there must surely be a market for tasty fermented vegetables, miso, pickles and yogurt, as well as ‘feel good’ treats, snacks and desserts. We have seen a gradual shift in recent years towards bolder flavours and unusual ingredients and we see no reason for this to change in 2019. If retailers can provide us with restaurant standard products, we can re-heat, embellish or partly cook ourselves, all the better. But in fact, we repeatedly find that simple recipes done well (possibly with the odd tweak), can prompt top scores from our Reviewers. Check out this months Onken’s Naked Strawberry Yogurt (overall score 47), Iceland’s hugely popular retro flavoured Majestic: Black Forest Ice Cream (overall score 48) and M&S’s healthy twist on Potato Salad using a familiar Coronation Dressing (overall score 41).
Insta-worthy food was a hot topic last year and Appearance remains key for certain meal occasions: treats and social occasions. But this was taken to the extreme – think orange and pink lattes, rainbow coloured unicorn foods and stacked burgers so tall there was no way they could be eaten without dismantling – and there could well be a backlash. Whatever the trend, Taste remains the number one driver when it comes to deciding which food or drink product to buy.