19 December 2016

It may only be December, but international food experts and writers have been pondering for some time which particular food trends are likely to create the greatest impact in 2017.

A clear contender in the UK is the ‘food to go’ market, which is predicted by IGD to grow by more than a third over the next five years to £7.1bn, compared to the £4.9bn it stands at today.  In order to arrive at these findings, IGD undertook extensive research and split the market into five segments: food to go specialists, quick service restaurants (QSRs), coffee specialists, convenience, forecourt and other retailers, and supermarkets and hypermarkets. The second largest growth sector is forecast to come from coffee specialists, while QSRs will add £1bn worth of sales to reach a total of £6bn by 2021. ‘Over the next five years, we are forecasting growth of up to 35% for the overall food-to-go market, providing there is a favourable economic backdrop’, commented IGD chief executive, Joanne Denney-Finch.

The highly respected McCormick Flavour Forecast, taking a global view, have been predicting trends that have influenced the way people eat at restaurants and cook at home for the past 17 years. This year is no exception and KLBD certified McCormick (in Europe) have indicated that bold Middle Eastern flavours will come into the spotlight next year, with exotic condiments and baharat seasoning becoming widely used to enhance taste sensation.  Along with sherry wine (can sometimes be kosher) and espelette pepper originating from the Basque region of France, McCormick predict that egg yolks will enjoy a surge of popularity on account of their protein content.

Functional foods are also predicted to continue their popularity in 2017 as consumers insist on additional benefits in their food and drink such as probiotics and nutritional supplements.  Ice cream lovers with a conscience can look forward to savouring the Minioti ice cream range in the knowledge it contains 100% Jersey milk, but no added sugar and just carefully selected live cultures for added health benefits.  Founded by two health conscious mothers in Jersey, Anna Boletta commented, “We are passionate about healthy eating, and wanted to create indulgent treats for children and the family, without any added nasties”.

In Germany, it is convenience foods which are projected to experience growth, driven by food that is ready to consume ‘now’ and food for ‘later’. Traditionally the immediate convenience food demand had been met by bakeries and food outlets, rather than supermarkets, but retailers are now recognising the potential to grow sales and drive footfall by fulfilling this requirement. Proving the point, Aldi has recently increased its food-to-go range in its Munich stores, acknowledging that this is currently one of its fastest growing categories.

The street food trend in Germany also looks set to continue its popularity throughout 2017, especially in Berlin where a new generation of consumers can access quality food which is more competitively priced owing to the reduced overheads of a traditional restaurant. Vegetarian and vegan products are expected to increase their market share and such is the fan base in Berlin that it was recently described by American culinary magazine, Saveur, as the ‘ vegetarian capital of the world’. The global interest in natural products for 2017 has also been pinpointed by Mintel which agree that the preference for natural, simple and flexible diets will drive further expansion of vegetarian, vegan and other plant focused formulations. The continuing priority placed on health and wellbeing issues by consumers is likely to see fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, grains and other plants produced in packaged products, as well as recipes for home cooking.

The theme of healthier food choices by consumers is also taken up by the food experts at Waitrose Supermarket.  They feel sure that the focus next year will be on finding healthier alternatives to components of traditional family meals and replacing a familiar item with something that is new but recognisable. A little more controversially they suggest that heavy creams could be replaced with vegetable purees and that cactus water may capture the consumer imagination, as well as the watermelon water brand recently launched by global superstar, Beyoncé.

In every corner of the globe, there is a buzz of excitement and anticipation over the food, drink and related industry trends that will emerge in 2017. Experts believe that changes in systems for food waste will also be a focal point, as well as the implementation of time saving devices to assist consumers in home-based food preparation.  However, fresh from his visit to HI Europe at Frankfurt, Commercial Consultant at KLBD, Russell J Brown, sounded a word of caution over the ‘disconnect’ between manufacturers and actual retail products in the health ingredients market.  On the other hand, Russell commented that the trend of the increasing importance of food supplements across the health food sector globally would continue to strengthen in the year ahead and beyond.