Soraya Gadelrab, Event Director for The International Food & Drink Event (IFE), discusses the evolving food & drink landscape and the trends that will be important to future success.
The coming year is arguably going to be one of the most challenging – and interesting – for the UK food & drink industry with Brexit on the horizon and the terms of our withdrawal from the EU to hopefully become clearer over the next few weeks. As with any new challenge, this change in the political, social and economic landscape will prompt brands to think differently about their offering and innovate in order to thrive.
Taking place in London – the home of food & drink innovation – IFE offers a unique opportunity for both British and international suppliers to meet and connect with top buyers and operators in the food & drink industries. With 1,350 cutting-edge food & drink manufacturers attending from 111 countries, the event will host a huge variety of businesses from small independent retailers to established household names and everything in between. It therefore provides a unique snapshot of the food & drink industry, identifying the growing trends before they hit the mainstream.
According to our research, the three top trends which impacted food & drink businesses in 2018 were plant-based food and veganism, the free-from movement and alcohol-free beverages. This survey of our network also revealed that sustainable packaging, gut-friendly foods and sugar-free options are the most prominent trends which businesses are looking to leverage in 2019 – a demonstration of the growing influence of the consumer interest in health & wellbeing. But how will these trends continue to develop and what does the future hold for the food & drink industry?
Not only is the landscape changing because of Brexit, but also because the next generation of consumers seem to want slightly different things from the products they buy. For example, a report from DoSomething Strategic revealed that 76% of young people have purchased or would consider purchasing a product to show support for the issues the brand supported3. The desire for convenience is also growing, with the takeaway market now worth £4.2 billion, up 73% in a decade4. It is therefore essential for brands to adapt to these new pressures in order to succeed in the crowded marketplace.
It will come as no surprise that sustainability and health & wellbeing are high on the agenda for this year’s event. We will be delving deeper into these topics and discussing ‘what’s next?’. Fermentation, stress-relieving food & drink and sustainable convenience are just some of the micro-trends that will be discussed by industry experts as well as being showcased by the wealth of exhibitors.
There will always be new challenges that food & drink brands will have to address, and the more agile and adaptive they can be, the better their chance of success. Companies should not only keep their fingers on the pulse in terms of the latest trends and innovations, but also think ahead to the next step and the evolution of these trends in order to future-proof their business.