As the New Year dawns, FoodNavigator predicts the top five drivers of the European food industry in the year ahead.
Focus shift from ‘sustainability’ to food waste
In recent years, companies have cottoned on to the idea that addressing sustainability issues is not just good for the environment, workers and animal welfare – it’s good for business too.
But the focus is changing, and will continue to change in 2014, toward reducing and reusing waste. This reflects new understanding about the potential of ‘waste’ to generate revenue and ensure that business is truly sustainable well into the future.
Momentum started to build behind food waste reduction last year after the FAO said that a third of all food production is wasted and could feed as many as two billion people with no extra impact on the environment.
Industry is getting on board with initiatives to save food too. Expect to see more of this kind of programme in the year ahead.
Move from ‘local’ to ‘authentic’
The last few years have seen massive interest in all things local.
National and regional pride have been used to great effect to tap into this, and while this will not completely stop, there may be a subtle shift that sees consumers mix the desire for local products and more exotic products toward those that are ‘authentic’ to a certain place.
These won’t necessarily be local to you but ‘local to somewhere’ and include regional specialties and traditional products from other countries and regions.
Look out for a surge of interest in authentic Brazilian products in particular, as World Cup fever strikes.
Provision of Food Information for Consumers (FIC) regulation
The FIC regulation was adopted in 2011 but most of it comes into force in December this year, with labelling changes on the agenda for nearly every food and drink company operating in Europe.
The new rules cover a huge range of labelling issues, from allergens and nutrition panels, to font size in ingredient lists and origin labelling for unprocessed meat – and much more.
Following the horse meat crisis last year, the issue of meat provenance is one to watch, with a recent European Commission survey finding that 90% of European consumers supported origin labelling for meat as an ingredient, which is not currently covered under the new regulation.
However, few were prepared to pay to cover the cost of providing this extra information – but can the processed meat industry afford not to respond to such strong consumer demand for origin labelling?
Many experts – including those at the FAO – have suggested insects to be the solution to the growing problem of animal protein shortage. While beetle burgers and cricket sausages may still have the 'yuck' factor and lack full commercial support, there may be steps toward the use of insects in niche areas in 2014.
Expect to see insects-based snacks popping up in health food aisles and other niche areas as the conversion starts to pick up pace.
Protein in everything
It’s a trend that has well and truly taken hold in the United States, and at the FIE show in Frankfurt, we saw the beginnings of its adoption in Europe: Added protein cropped up in a huge range of products – far beyond the traditional sports nutrition category – including in beverages, chocolates, caramels, biscuits, creams and cereals.
Protein-in-everything also ties into a recent surge in low carb claims , as consumers look to protein for the satiety factor they perceive low carb products to be lacking.
Finally, the health kick shows no sign of stopping, with demand for functional and ‘free-from’ foods soaring. But we all want a bit of indulgence too.
Currently there are not many products that bridge this gap and offer something that is truly indulgent and decadent – but still fits in the health category. While producing an indulgent yet healthy food may seem a big ask, there is huge consumer demand for this sort of product and that means there may be some in store for 2014.
What do you think? Are we on the money? Or is there something we’ve missed? Let us know in the comments below…