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Revisit your plant-based products
“Due to the cost of living crisis, but also for health reasons, consumers are turning to plant-based ingredients to replace some or all of their meat intake,” Heather Morris, co-founder of food start-up specialists SH Foodie says.
“Veganuary participation in 2022, according to Kantar, was primarily for health (38%), but closely followed by environmental (25%) and ethical reasons (25%).”
With quality improving for plant-based meats like ‘bacon’ and dairy-free cheeses, there are many options for indies to choose from – but watch out for a backlash against highly processed vegan foods. Pluses, beans and organic veg may prove a more popular option with customers.
Support the B-Corp movement
Certified B Corps have been gaining popularity over the past few years. The logo signifies that a business that has committed to balancing profit with people and the planet, and a rigorous certification process must be undertaken before you can slap it on your label.
In 2023, Jason Gibb, founder of Bread & Jam, says, “B-Corp will be going mainstream as it becomes more widely recognised by consumers. So why not join the fun and have a B-Corp section or shelf?” You could even consider certifying your own business.
Ride the health wave
“The aftermath of the pandemic spurred a strong consumer commitment to good health, and a high percentage of conscious consumers now demand fresher foods with no artificial ingredients as they look to cook more at home and gain greater control over what they eat,” Peri Eagleton, co-founder of Seggiano says.
Even in the cost of living crisis, Mitch Thorne of Eversfield Organic says they have seen consumers prioritising their health. Look for brands with strong on-pack messaging about their health credentials, and seek out organic products or whole foods which consumers will be on the hunt for.
Check your carbon emissions
Zeroing in on your carbon emissions is another way to win conscious consumers. “If you are making any food-to-go, you should look at calculating the carbon footprint and displaying it on your dishes or products,” Jason says.
“Consumers are becoming more carbon literate and you need to be ahead of the game.” Jason recommends looking for free online carbon emission calculators – some may even integrate with nutritional platforms that you’re already using for allergens.
Retailers should take a fresh look at how to deal with any surplus stock. “All retailers should be making sure that there is zero wastage on stock,” Jason says. Could you partner with popular surplus food distributors like Too Good To Go or Olio to make sure you hit the mark on food waste?
Examine your supply chain
Take a closer look at your supply chain. “With food, it’s all about the provenance of ingredients – and this means looking closely at the supply chain to ensure you’re using the right, sustainable options,” Gary Lewis, chief commercial officer at KTC Edibles, says.
Consumers want brands they can trust, and producers who have shorter supply chains and guarantee provenance, traceability and transparency will be ahead of the curve. “Provenance of ingredients isn’t just a nice story, but a short history of traceability versus cheap blends of commodity ingredients, the origins and processing history of which are impossible to know,” Peri says.
Add a refill station
Sian Sutherland, co-founder of A Plastic Planet, believes 2023 is the year that refill packaging takes off. “There has been an introduction of permanent packaging on a microscale, but I believe this year we will see this model being scaled across the UK in a big way, hopefully once again reinventing our consumption of harmful plastics.”
Start small with dried foods or common household products to get a feel for what running a refill scheme will entail and how interested your customers are in the idea.
“Offering refill systems and prefill products not only boosts sustainability credentials and tackles this pressing issue facing humanity but it will also carve out a niche for your business, showing you are ahead of the trend whilst many will lag behind,” Sian says.