5 trends from lunch! and Casual Dining exhibition

8 Oct 2021

Consumer Insights
Taste Tomorrow

It was late September and the Puratos trend peddlars took to the spacious halls of Excel to visit lunch! and Casual Dining exhibitions in search of interesting food trends.

We were brimming with excitement to be tasting, seeing and smelling the trends of now and the future and finally in person.

Personally, I live for food and consumer trends, so wanted to share my top 5 with you and I was pleased to see a clear correlation of the products we saw with our Taste Tomorrow research and our NOW normal trend report research - bought to life in a plethora of new flavours, colours, products and innovations.

Plant based take over

As a vegan myself, it is a trend that I am fully championing, I left these 2 exhibitions ready to explode feeling well and truly spoilt, plant based was undoubtedly the biggest trend by a mile. 

Loads of innovation in plant protein including scrambled eggs substitutes, burgers and kebabs however what was really exciting for me was the confection and cake offerings. SO MUCH CHOICE! Brownies, cakes, pastries…. lots of retro twists including Jammy dodger flapjacks from Deli-lites and the best thing I have ever heard of; vegan chocolate with live cultures, recommended to be eaten every day who needs an apple a day? its all about the chocolate bar a day to keep the doctor away.

Brand diversification

Covid created a huge boost in omni-channels Prescence as brands looked for new ways to reach consumers not only do, we see changes in channel but also we see well-known names expanding from their hero product into more areas – Joe & Sephs embody this trend, evolving to meet changing consumer needs. 

Starting life as a luxury ready to eat popcorn brand with indulgent, innovative flavours they took the market by storm. Then came luxurious sauces then in a bold move they launched simple salted popcorn to corner the everyday market. Over lockdown consumers got more involved with making their own good – we all saw the boom in home baking! Now they have diversified into popcorn machines with many different types of kernels in different shapes, sizes and colours.

Its a win for wellness!

Health and health claims were a hot topic in brand messages and communication – the most I saw were 10 on one product! These are being driven by consumer desire to be able to make more conscious decisions with what they choose to eat.

We saw a holistic overload – Ingredients such as lotus seed with pink Himalayan salt – key products related to ancient holistic traditions and I truly believe we are just at the start of a huge movement to this style of products and marketing.

Of course, you can’t talk about health and wellness without mentioning gut health, we were very excited to meet Lisa MacFarlane of the Gut Stuff with a range of tasty high fibre products, backed up with science, it is very clear that consumers need to eat more fibre and there needs to be tasty high fibre products to meet this demand.

Image to the right, Puratos UK thought leader Vicci Forward with one of the founders of The Gut Stuff; Lisa MacFarlane

Storytelling gets scientific

Every stand had a story to tell, one of my favourites was “Around Noon” with their scientific stand and slogan “Great chemistry = great food”. Consumers have all become experts in food – recognising the science behind ingredients and making the link to healthier eating and purchasing decisions.

  • "Many people experienced positive changes to household food behaviours that they wished to continue as lockdown eased, for example increased home-cooking and food sharing and increased attention to diet." FSA Consumer Covid Study

Mainstream organic

Once seen as ‘trendy’ and expensive and almost exclusive to the more affluent consumer, Organic was once seen as being almost elitist – well no more! Walking hand in hand with so many current consumer trends such as transparency, wellness, local … Organic is seeing a big rise.

Spending on organic products has grown by 12.6% and 14.1% respectively, with almost nine in 10 households purchasing organic in 2020. As of last year, the sector was worth £2.79bn.*

As you will see I have not covered ethics and sustainability and this was visible in abundance with every stand having a clear focus on the subject, it is very clear that businesses a solid focus on a more sustainable future. 

Coming soon – what’s trending in retail? The trend hunters will hit the streets and the supermarket aisles bring you the most up-to-date flavours, colours, textures in cake and patisserie 

Source: *IGD, PHE trial H. 900, Organic farming growth “robust” but challenges persist, speciality fine food, Data from the Soil Association’s Organic Farming and Growing