02 July 2019, 08:27 AM
  • Innovation is everywhere in the industry right now. Here are the three biggest movements worth taking note of...
What’s hot in food and drink?

The market for CBD products is taking off, with a plethora of innovative food and drink items hitting the shelves on a regular basis. While products that fit into the wellness or ‘healthy’ sectors have been popular for a while, CBD takes it one step further and aims to nourish the mind as well as the body. However, it comes hand in hand with potential eye-rolling and negative connotations when education is missing. Take Nooro, which its team claims to be the UK’s first CBD snack bar, which utilises the hashtag #ForYourMind on social media. The vegan bar contains ingredients including ginger, lemon, oats as well as 25mg of CBD for an uplifting, wellbeing friendly snack.

Good Soul produces premium CBD-infused chocolate which contains 200mg of full-spectrum CBD. “High-functioning people want to integrate cannabis into their lives in thoughtful ways” says company director, Victoria Weiss. “I want people to consume cannabis without feeling like it’s a product they should hide. We’ve created a product where every detail, from the feel of the packaging to the dosage of CBD, were all meticulously explored and executed with the consumer’s experience and needs in mind.”

It’s not just food products that are incorporating CBD, the drinks market is getting in on the action, too. Body and Mind Botanicals have created a 100% organic, vegan and legal Cannabis Tea. The company advocates its benefits as helping to relieve stress, anxiety and even to help reduce pain and inflammation.

“The CBD market is a fascinating one,” comments Ed Mehmed, partner at ?What If!. “In many ways cannabinoids represent a new frontier, and some specialists have been studying its properties and effects on humans for decades. It promises to be genuinely one of the most exciting areas, which blurs the lines between pharma and farmer, if you will excuse the pun. What is interesting is the social context around it is shifting. Like the end of prohibition, it feels like the early movers in this space treat the market with novelty or scramble to claim being the first. Brands work backwards from being edgy or irreverent – desperate to see a hemp leaf on their brand to maintain relevance or participate. It’s unlikely that the early food and drink plays will be the real marketplace for CBD, just as drones delivering coffee and autonomous vehicles that deliver pizzas are not the real use case. Excitingly there are 100s of cannabinoids that we still know very little about their properties and effects on the human brain and physical wellbeing.”

Food industry expert Jane Milton adds, “There is certainly a wide plethora of products containing CBD at present and as long as there is positive anecdotal evidence people will be happy to buy them. We have seen recently with the sudden interest in turmeric (a product that had been here a long time) and how that has stayed and now turmeric appears in meals, hot drinks, chocolates and cakes. I see no reason why CBD will not do the same, although I know some people are still suspicious of them and view them as if they are marijuana – I have heard, for instance, that people selling only foods containing CBD have found it hard to get bank accounts and card machines from banks. Looks like there is still some education to do, too.”

According to Mintel, one in five 16 to 24-year-olds say that they don’t drink alcohol. This change in attitude and spending habits has paved the way for new and existing brands to come up with some exciting ideas. The big brands have been incorporating low or non-alcoholic additions to their lines in order to appeal to the ever-increasing numbers of consumers looking for alternatives. For example, Kopparberg has alcohol-free versions of its cider, and other big-hitters including beer brands Heineken and Beck’s sell 0% alcohol beverages. We have all heard of Seedlip, the company that put non-alcoholic spirits on the map, and since then there has been a plethora of interesting products coming through, as uninspiring and overly sugary alternatives are no longer good enough for consumers, they want to see good quality, flavourful options. For example, Punchy Drinks offers “the world’s first” 4% and 0% abv rum punch, and has recently launched a tequila, pink grapefruit, lime and chilli drink. Caleño is a new non-alcoholic spirit with a tropical infusion of juniper, citrus and spice botanicals, as well as its key ingredient, the South American Inca berry. The mix of zesty flavours aims to provide an interesting alternative to alcohol. Outfox also creates grown up drinks as an alternative to wine with less than 0.5% abv, and not only that are also vegan, gluten-free and contain no sulphites.

Jane Milton comments, “One of these trends or developments that I am most excited about is the reduction of dependence on alcohol in bars and restaurants, and the wider range of nonalcoholic drinks that aren’t laced with sugar - either drinks with similar flavour profiles to spirits or beers, sophisticated fruit based drinks and my favourites, those based on tea. Dilmah Tea, the Sri Lankan brand which sells worldwide and is beginning to make inroads into the UK, have made a great range of Elixirs, which are innovative tea concentrates and tea extracts made with Ceylon Tea, which make it easier for bartenders and less skilled food service staff to create delicious iced teas, shakes and mocktails.”

Back in October 2018, Mintel listed wellness as an industry influence. The movement defines the way consumers think about everything from health to technology to food and drink. According to the article, “In 2019 and beyond, growing consumer curiosity with the microbiome shows no signs of abating. From gut-friendly fermented foods to probiotic skincare, consumers will demand products that balance and boost the natural bacteria found in and on the body.”

Type ‘fermented’ into Ocado and 186 options come up. The range of products is full and varied, such as Taifun’s Organic Feto Natural Fermented Tofu - it’s said that the fermentation with vegan yogurt cultures helps make the tofu easier to digest. The brand Profusion offer lightly sparkling fermented green tea drinks featuring kombucha in a range of flavours, including; Baobab, Mint & Pomegranate, Mighty Greens and Maca, Coconut & Pineapple. Kefir has had a particularly sizeable imapct. Used in cultures around the world for thousands of years, it’s begun making a lot of noise in recent times. Made using grains of bacteria and yeast with milk to create a fermented drink, it’s said to contain lots of friendlybacteria good for digestion and gut health. With its tangy flavour it can be enjoyed on its own, but many companies are coming out with innovative flavour combinations to add extra interest, such as Yorvale’s Blueberry & Elderflower kefir smoothie and Biotiful’s Cacao smoothie kefir. While it often comes in drink format there are also spoonable versions for something a bit different.