Sensory Dimensions attended The Food & Drink Trends & Innovations conference in London on 18th May. This was a useful barometer for the hot topics being discussed right now. There is no avoiding that inflation and the rise in cost of living is a major concern for manufacturers, retailers and consumers. Rising input costs of materials, energy and labour, as well as uncertain consumer demand, will likely be front of mind for the rest of 2022.
From a consumer perspective, value for money is key. This does not mean that consumers will only be looking for the lowest prices but they will be more discretionary about where they are prepared to spend more. For example, replicating the out-of-home eating experience in-the-home suggests that consumers will indulge in higher quality food and drink as an in-home treat whilst still saving money against eating out. Of course, the normal polarisation plays out in economically challenging times with retailer brands competing at the price end and the leading manufacturer brands retaining ‘go-to’ status on shopping lists.
A big question is: where does ‘sustainability’ now feature in everyone’s priorities? Most people will still agree that sustainability is important and want to do their bit. However, when it comes to investing in sustainability versus spending wisely, it will be interesting to see how many can sustain actual commitment and authentic action this year.
One trend that is still on an upward curve is plant-based food and drink. There is a fulfilling cycle of increasing consumer demand and retailer range expansion. Consumer behaviour is interesting and it’s not simply meat-eaters becoming vegetarian. People are gradually shifting their repertoire to including plant-based products as ‘flexitarians’. Somewhat of an interesting paradox is that meat manufacturers are emulating the way that plant-based manufacturers are creating new and interesting flavours and meal combinations. If manufacturers and retailers get the 3 big purchase drivers right, i.e. taste, convenience and price, then it is possible (with added differentiation) to launch into the plant-based sector. We recently ran a webinar on plant-based which you can view:
As always, Sensory Dimensions is here to help you navigate through this year’s choppy waters. Moreover, we can help you become a winner in your categories.
We are about to commission our own research on this year’s challenges. If you’d like us to understand what you are concerned about currently then please let us know and we will endeavour to include your topics in our research.