ifac’s Head of Food & AgriBusiness, David Leydon, along with over Over 200 food producers attended Bord Bia's Small Business Open Day on 23 January in Johnstown Castle, Enfield. CEO of Bord Bia opened the conference with an upbeat view of prospects for 2018 as well as outlining how positive a year 2017 was for Irish food and drink exports.
David Berry of Kantar World led with some of the key trends that were confirmed by multiple other speakers throughout the day:
Health is now front of mind
Supporting local is a top priority
Convenience is more important than ever for time strapped consumers
Highlight of the day was Professor David Hughes, who gave a high level view of what’s happening in the world of food.
The lack of trust in big food companies and lack of growth has led many of the big players to set up venture capital funds of their own to invest in or buy small companies. For example the Kellogg’s company own the 1894 VC fund - www.1894capital.com. When launching Kellogg’s noted:
Kellogg Company announced today it is establishing eighteen94 capital (1894) to make minority investments in companies pursuing next-generation innovation, bolstering access to cutting-edge ideas and trends. The investment mandate includes start-up businesses pioneering new ingredients, foods, packaging, and enabling technology
Other big players with investment funds include Danone and Nestlé.
While convenience was a major theme Hughes was clear, ‘Convenience trumps health’. To win in convenience, given expectations have increased significantly, food companies need to meet the key criteria of healthy in addition to being good for the environment.
Other interesting nuggets:
A trend has emerged of merging indulgent foods and healthy ingredients, for example, Haagen Dazs’ Green Tea flavoured ice cream.
Compostable and recyclable packaging will be critical in this move towards a cleaner environment. Plastic will not be an option in the consumer’s mind, and depending on pricing this will be a challenge for many smaller food companies.
For theatre in grocery shopping look to Asia and Japan. Linked to this, Hughes determined that the middle aisles of a supermarket may well become redundant. Often referred to as the morgue, the products in these middle aisles will most likely be delivered to your home and the stores will be for grocery theatre, experience and convenience.
It is predicted that growth in online shopping will continue strongly with 1 in 7 UK consumers now buying groceries online. Omni-channel is still important though and the major online retailers will need bricks and mortar stores for delivery.
Hughes noted that the more things change the more they stay the same:
Summing up Hughes said that the No.1 mega global consumer trend was for food that is “good for health and good for planet”.
Finally, here are the key issues for food companies to think about in 2018.