Back in 2022, there was great emphasis on home-cooked meals, functional foods, and low alcohol consumption due to the rising inflation and the defusing pandemic situation. While COVID-19 may have been the darkest period in recent world history, it did some good like reintroducing people to the importance of physical fitness, mental health, and wholesome food.
Naturally, a sudden rise in the demand for retail food was observed during the lockdown period. At the same time, the popularity of meal kits skyrocketed. With 2023, however, the world is witnessing an unpredictable economic flux. The F&B sector is struggling hard to survive this paradigm shift and uncertain market.
Their focus is on new ideas and ways to tackle the problems these changing times present, like the increasing demand for vegan-friendly alternatives, and competitive pricing. As per our observations of the F&B industry, in 2023, the manufacturers will majorly focus on just these few trends. Each of them is individually discussed below:
Glocal refers to an imperative correlation between foods that are produced locally with foods that are imported globally. The regional production rate and availability will be the top criteria to decide whether to import edible goods like grains and other similar cultivated foods or not. Rather than their cheap price. This could lead to greater grain production for human food consumption and lesser for animal feed due to the subsequent decline in meat consumption across the region.
These rules will be the deciding factor on whether producers and traders will be dependent on imports or not. It will also increase transparency along the whole supply chain, with the fair trade producers’ collaboration, and with farms that are dedicated to ecological or regenerative production techniques.
Regenerative Food System is a deliberate way out of the problem created by the pandemic and the climate crisis. It’s an effective way to decrease dependence on man-made fertilisers that are chemically produced by adding and mixing tons of organic matter and diversified microorganisms. It also reduces greenhouse gas emissions.
It’s a harvesting system that’s more reliable in the long run as it makes crops more resilient against climate change. Since it gained prominence, many globally known brands have also adopted regenerative techniques. Even conventional farmers can readily adapt regenerative techniques suited to their local environments.
These techniques include the utilization of various plant species and cover crops, agroforestry, and rotation pastures, in which cattle, sheep, and goats graze only intermittently so that the pasture plants and the soil have a chance to recuperate. Healthy soils aid in reestablishing the organic carbon cycle and boost the soil's capacity to store carbon, both of which assist fight climate change.
According to FAO, 30% of all the food produced is wasted globally every year. Fortunately, many F&B companies are trying to resolve this issue by adopting sustainable food systems. Manufacturers have become a part of low-waste movements by upcycling food waste to produce byproducts and new products.
As consumers are now becoming more aware and conscious of food wastage, this movement is slowly impacting consumer behaviours. From adding paper straws to making more efficient and biodegradable packaging, industries are doing everything they can to remain on the consumers’ minds.
If we compare the stats from three years past to the current ones, we see that 72% of consumers are conscious of food waste. F&B industries might look for unique ways to answer consumer queries in an attempt to make them feel more connected with their brand.
Even automating back-of-the-house operations like inventory management can help reduce waste. It prevents businesses from overbuying products and reducing packaging waste.
The eating habits of people also seem to be changing as they have started to consume less meat and prefer diets that emphasize consuming plants. In fact, the number of people who identify as "vegan" has grown by 60% over the last three years.
Owing to that, plant-based alternatives for meat and dairy products have been on a consistent rise. 52% of worldwide consumers now identify as flexitarians, a term formed by combining flexible and vegetarian, meaning they are increasing the proportion of plant-based foods in their diets while being mindful of the quantity of meat they consume. If you haven’t noticed the percentage, it signifies more than half of the planet’s occupants.
That’s why many ingredient firms are expanding their offerings to satisfy their flexitarian consumers. At the helm of this trend are the Millennials, the biggest generation of living adults. They are more aware of the impact meat consumption has on the environment and the treatment of animals to acquire it.
Restaurant owners are also starting to add creative vegan and flexitarian choices to their menus to keep up with this rising trend. The introduction and instant popularity of plant-based milk, vegan cheeses, and plant-based meat is a testament to it.
In conclusion, this year, most F&B businesses will mainly focus their efforts on lowering costs while adding more value to their product lines without compromising on the vegan and flexitarian consumer niche. The idea doesn’t seem too far-fetched given the tech advancement and innovative developments in the sector and what we witnessed at Fi Europe 2022.
We believe a small disclosure is needed here. These findings are based on the movements observed in the F&B sector by LECITEIN in the previous years. However, we hold no responsibility if a shift is witnessed in any of these trends and new trends emerge as the year progresses.