The TASTE Trends Report

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What’s set to change the dial in 2019?

With our fingers firmly on the pulse of the food and drink world, we scour the news each and every morning for all the tasty tidbits of information, from the most media-worthy stories to the subtle undercurrents and emerging trends. Plus. our relationship with the YBFs means we know who’s set to make moves in everything from alcohol through to food sharing. If it’s happening, we’re watching.

As 2018 draws to a close, we’re reflecting on the stories that grabbed our attention, the biggest trends and innovations set to shape the landscape in 2019 and those rising stars paving the way for change in the near future. Read on for more.

Supermarket sweep

This year the big four became the big six, seven, eight(!) as our grocery landscape continued to shift at pace. The discounters continued to chip away market share and big e-players like Amazon ripped up the retail rulebook when it comes to format and experience.

Constantly jostling  for consumer attention and column inches - from NPD to CSR, hardly a day passes in media land when grocery innovation doesn’t make news. However, the major theme, which no one could have missed this year, was sustainability.

As the pressure mounts on business to protect our planet - from bleeding veg-burgers to edible insects, here are some of the innovations that held those headlines:

Not all innovations were met with applause though, as Sainsbury’s faced widespread backlash for its introduction of ‘touch-free’ packaging for meat-squeamish millennials.

It was battle of the biggest and it’s been a close-call all year, but in the end Iceland’s smart strategy around palm oil outstripped them all. The hard-hitting Greenpeace creative slammed into cultural consciousness as political rules prohibited a traditional TV  broadcast media plan.

An online petition at the centre of a smart social strategy ensured that paid media was redundant, allowing the ever growing socially-conscious consumer to do the work for the brand via word-of-mouth, making ‘Rang-Tan’  he most impactful ad campaign never to make it on air.

A part of Iceland’s stake in the ground on palm oil free (own brand) products, the companies that felt the burn of the aftermath included Mondelez, as conflicting and unclear information around the issue added to consumer wrath. With palm oil omnipresent in FMCG products and a lack of clarity on pack as to the credentials of any given brand, what remains to be seen is whether the momentum will hit brand bottom lines or not…

2. Must-Have Ingredient

One ingredient we’ve seen rise above the rest this year is CBD, as search queries for ‘cannabidiol’ have exploded and the the non-psychoactive component of the cannabis hemp plant has become the ingredient du jour. Reported to have mood-enhancing, calming effects and health benefits such as pain relief and anti-seizure properties, it seems we can’t get enough of the green stuff this year. We’ve seen the pungent plant find its way onto menus across London from hot chocolates to brownies, before being picked up by brands and infused into everyday products:  The Stockton Brewery Company released their ‘Buffalo Soldier’ beer brewed with traces of CBD oil, we’ve heard there are plans bubbling away for Coca-Cola Cannabis and rumours are mounting that drinks giant Diageo is rolling up to get involved. It’s high time to pay attention.

3. Most Interesting NPD

Just a few short years ago, lab-grown meat may have seemed like the stuff of sci-fi and dark imaginations. But the future of food is here, and with it comes the arrival of cell-cultured chicken, fish, and meatballs. Dubbed ‘clean meat’, the artificially cultured products are being developed by start-ups such as ‘Finless Foods’ and ‘Memphis Meats’, where meat cells are pumped with broths and syrups in order to ‘grow’. Swapping chicken coops for petri-dishes, the meat is produced entirely indoors, with no livestock or slaughterhouses in sight.

While at first, it may sound like something from Black Mirror, experts herald ‘clean meat’ as the sustainable alternative to industrial meat farming as it requires less energy, less land and less water to produce. The slaughter-free alternative also claims to be more scalable for mass-production, which could see 10 animal cells produce up to 50 tonnes of meat - and supporters claiming it has the potential to end world hunger.  A report published this year by the Adam Smith Institute suggests cultured meats have the potential of becoming a multi billion-pound industry, advising British companies to invest in becoming world leaders in the development of the lab-grown meat industry. This meaty move out of the slaughterhouse into the lab is one to watch.

4. Rising Influencer: One to Watch

Working with the YBFs give us annual front row seats to the finest emerging talent in across food and drink in the UK, and every year we’re blown away by the quality, passion and creativity brought to the table. We love seeing first-hand the amazing work that’s going on - not only the great produce and service, but also the rise in projects with a purpose. One exciting project worth keeping eyes on is The Sister Table. Founded by sisters Benjamina and Bonita Ebuehi, the monthly brunch club aims to make supper clubs more accessible, bringing people together in pursuit of good company and purposeful conversation. By providing a space for women to come together as a community and forge new relationships, founders Benjamina and Bonita Ebuehi believe that a shared dining experience encourages inclusion and a real sense of belonging, and we agree. We look forward to watching as the project unfolds further, and to following the difference the shared connectivity can make.