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Leatherhead: Food and drink trends for 2010

Predicting the trends of 2010 is certainly trickier than forecasting what would happen in 2009, writes Chris Brockman, Market Research Manager at Leatherhead Food Research in the UK. In the depths of a recession it was not difficult to expect that the last year of the noughties would be a year when consumers traded-down, economised by staying in, rediscovered the joys of cooking at home, and harked back to better times.

Hence frozen food did well against premium priced chilled food options, takeaways for staying in did well against eating out, discount retailers prospered, demand for home cooking ingredients soared, and nostalgia entered the food market with renewed vigour with the likes of Wispa and Artic Roll cashing in and retro boiled sweets in jars and old-style fizzy drinks popping up everywhere.

Frozen food did well against premium-priced, chilled food options, takeaways for staying in did well against eating out, discount retailers prospered, demand for home cooking ingredients soared, and nostalgia entered the food market with renewed vigour with the likes of Wispa and Artic Roll cashing in, and retro boiled sweets in jars and old-style fizzy drinks popping up everywhere.

The anticipated climb out of recession in 2010 may not be straightforward and the big question is: will consumers revert back to their pre-credit crunch habits? Probably not to the same extent is the most detailed assessment that can be made, as most will have been left somewhat scarred by the downturn and the era of the savvy-shopper will stay with us for some time to come.

The long-running mega trends of health, convenience, indulgence and ethical consumerism however look set to continue. 2010 is a new dawn though and I would expect innovation to be revitalised, although the ongoing EU health claims saga may certainly dampen down functional food developments and push the innovation emphasis to areas other than health.

Sustainability is likely to become one of the more pressing concerns for the food supply chain in 2010. Thus more sustainable packaging materials, a greater focus on sustainable sourcing of food, and the use of sustainable energy sources will all be evident.

Sustainability trend sustained

Tesco’s recent commitment to become a zero-carbon business by 2050 without purchasing offsets has set the clock ticking on this topic. Ethical initiatives and planet consciousness will only heighten, as an increasing number of major players fully embrace this topic.
Going veggie for the environment, yet still craving meat

Although the debate rages over the real effect of meat production on the environment, there may be some reduction in meat consumption generally as part of wider dietary changes, as well as to cut down on greenhouse gases. However, meat flavours will be more prominent to compensate (witness a recent surge in bacon-flavoured confectionery in the US).

Fibre focus

Consumers still eat way below the recommended level of fibre, and this health issue is a sleeping giant that will start to come to the fore.

Simplified and local food

The use of fewer ingredients or the use of more store cupboard ingredients will be prominent, as naturally produced and more locally produced food is a major consumer requirement.

Small households, big convenience need Household sizes are shrinking by the demographic trend towards an ageing population, as well as the social trend for more co-habiting and unmarried/child-less couples, the increasing number of divorcees and other one-person households. Thus, convenience remains a key trend.

Performance naturally

The energy drinks and energy food boom will continue, but with a shift towards more natural products. With the World Cup and the Olympics looming in the UK, sports and energy foods in general will gain greater exposure.

Brain health Along with energy, products that promote sustained cognitive development remain of high interest. This theme is also linked to the ageing population trend, as well as to the focus on children’s mental development.

Exotic chocolate

Consumers have been awakened to different types and flavours in chocolate, and this trend will build. Chocolate was revitalised before the recession hit through the boom in dark and premium varieties, and has also fared well during the downturn as an affordable treat, and so is a well-positioned category to build sales further into 2010.

Ethnic foods more Mexican and African

Ethnic food growth will continue and these are two cultures whose influence continues to spread in the restaurant and retail food arena, as manufacturers and consumers seek out new and exotic ingredients and flavours.

Time for tea culture

Speciality teas continue to boom linked to the growing health drive, with a particular focus on their antioxidant properties. Tea-drinking emporiums are taking up the slack from the coffee bar sector.

About Leatherhead Food Research

Founded in 1919, Leatherhead Food Research has been a trusted partner to the food industry for nearly a century, offering an unparalleled breadth and depth of experience to help the food industry innovate and evolve.

Its members and clients represent a who’s who of the global food and beverage market – ranging from large multi-nationals to SMEs, and including ingredient suppliers, manufacturers, retailers and foodservice businesses, and number over 1 000 food and drinks companies worldwide.

Leatherhead Food Research offers services including market intelligence, food research and analysis, food legislation, business and technical information and training.

See: http://www.leatherheadfood.com

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