Environment, Health & The Rise of the Individual: Trendwatch 2018 & Predictions 2019 in the Food Sector

The environment and health are key drivers that have emerged from 2018 and will be the unique selling points that food businesses will need to push with their products in 2019; underlying both is the rise of the individual, particularly in the younger generations.

This is a basic way of encapsulating a series of growing trends;

  • Environment includes concerns over climate change, a reaction against intensive farming, a desire to consume less meat and dairy and move towards veganism/ vegetarianism/ flexitarianism, a concern to reduce packaging and food waste, promote sustainability and a reduced carbon footprint, therefore more locally produced / seasonal products. The promotion of individual responsibility and commitment underpins the consumer’s growing belief that each choice they make can and does have a greater effect. A premium product is much more likely to provide an ethical advantage to the consumer rather than an added ‘luxury’ ingredient as consumers become less influenced by branding unless there is a reflection in their own values embedded in that.
  • Health has been a growing trend for some years. There is a noticeable decline in certain choices such as alcohol, sugary soft drinks and smoking whilst products in the healthier category including fruit, free-from and sports nutrition have been some of the fastest growing categories, as reported in the Grocer. There can be a large overlap between health and the environment, with meat and dairy-free options, promotion of vegetables/vegetarian options and flexible meal choices. The individualist slant of the environmental and welfare concerns is also seen in the self-reflection of the consumer’s concern to choose verifiable ‘better’ or healthier choices. Despite the obesity crisis this may not necessarily equate with a reduction in calories but centres more where ethical concerns can combine with the perception of a personal benefit.
     
  • Personalised and individual food products that reflect an aspect of the lifestyle choices of the consumer will do best in 2019. Unique selling points of food that differentiate products towards aspects of ethics, such as sustainability and welfare, and /or innovative characteristics. It may be that the rise in social media with its’ emphasis on the self has now extended into each consumer choice and so food choices now also need to reflect the ethos of their consumer.

From a food labelling and marketing legal perspective any actual or implied health claim will need to comply with Regulation 1924/2006 and foods should not mislead as to their nature, substance or quality and should be labelled, advertised and presented in a way that is not false or misleading according to The Food Safety Act 1990. Where any voluntary claims are made they should be appropriately substantiated and comply with case precedent, Food Standards Agency guidance and Advertising Standards Authority adjudications. For advice on this or any other related matter please contact Jessica Burt by email Jessica.Burt@mills-reeve.com.

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