The food and drink industry is always evolving, and the past few years have seen some exciting transformations, says Soraya Gadelrab of the Food & Drink Innovation Network
We waved goodbye to ‘skinny’ and ‘low fat’ ideals and welcomed in a healthier interest in food and drink that benefits our body. Consumers are becoming increasingly motivated to eat foods that can improve their physical and mental wellbeing. Whether it’s energy-boosting ingredients or fermented drinks that can rebalance gut bacteria, consumers are willing to try it.
Consumer palettes are becoming more sophisticated as we get a better understanding of the health benefits of certain foods. Take Kombucha or Kimchi, who would have thought that fermented foods would become mainstream in the UK diet? Kombucha has already reached success across the pond and is now experiencing a surge in UK sales. Known by the Chinese as the ‘immortal health elixir’, Kombucha is used to improve digestion, stimulate the immune system, aid weight loss and prevent arthritis. This new information is encouraging consumers to invest in different products and moving forward, we can expect to see this curiosity grow.
In response to this behavioural shift, brands are adapting the messaging on their packaging to target a more health conscious consumer. More and more products like Kombucha and Kimchi will be labelled with ‘probiotic’ as audiences become mindful that probiotics introduce new and good bacteria into the gut. A similar change will happen with prebiotics such as leeks, onions and garlic. Prebiotics are extremely good to have in your diet and work on nourishing the good bacteria in your bowel and colon.
These new consumer priorities could be attributed to a rise in influential people sharing a message online. We are seeing more Chefs, Bloggers and YouTubers shedding light on important topics such as gut health, so there’s no surprise it’s on everyone’s mind. Amongst these influencers are food doctors, Dr Hazel Wallace and Dr Rupy Aujla, who use social media as a powerful platform to share a message about using food for medicine. Dr Tim Spector is also taking advantage of large audiences online to educate consumers and brands about the Microbiome. The Microbiome includes bacteria, fungi, parasites, and viruses and in a healthy person, coexists peacefully, with the largest numbers found in the small and large intestines but also throughout the body. The microbiome is labelled a supporting organ because it plays so many key roles in promoting the smooth daily operation of the human body.
We will see more plant-based ingredients in supermarkets this year as we learn of their remarkable health benefits. Moringa, native to India, is one of the most nutritious plants in the world. It is rich in antioxidants and is an anti-inflammatory that supports brain health and protects the liver. Similarly, fibres like Inulin will gradually start to appear on our radars. Not to be confused with insulin, inulin is a plant fibre which effectively boosts digestion. With a number of excellent benefits such as boosting heart health and increasing calcium absorption, this natural sweetener will do wonders in the food space.
We are also seeing an impressive movement in food and drink as waste becomes a priority. People are uniting on Twitter with hashtags such as #PassOnPlastic and household food names are making changes to their business models to fight waste. In 2018, we will see new ways to reduce waste which will prevent producers from throwing away food classed as ‘rubbish’ during production. We will see more supermarkets selling food past its sell-by and restaurants thriving from their ‘waste’ menus. More coffee shops will offer discounts when bringing a reusable cup and Evian has vowed to become a 100% circular brand by 2025. Whether it’s sincere or inspired by PR, there is an impressive movement taking over the industry.
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