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Thrifty eating informs 2009 trend predictions

By Jess Halliday , 16-Dec-2008

‘Tis the season for food trend predictions, but this year’s list from Thefoodpeople is marked by back-to-basic measures to reduce food spending in the recession.

As the financial crisis grips, the effect on spending is already being seen across Europe. The story is even grimmer in the UK, the market on which Thefoodpeople focuses – not least because of the falling the pound against the euro.

The food trend and innovation consultancy has divided its trends into those that are already being observed, dubbed ‘mega trends’, and those that are anticipated, ‘emerging trends’.

Amongst the mega trends expected to continue into next year, it lists “comfort food, nostalgia, scratch cooking and home baking, as consumers want to save money as well as feel good about the food they consume, just like Mum of Grandma did”.

Overall, the amount of protein on plates will shrink, as meat is generally more expensive than vegetables. But where meat is served, consumers will aim to make it go as far as possible through “head-to-tail” eating – that is, eating cuts of meat that have been less popular in recent years.

As for alcoholic consumption, consumers are tending to buy in the booze and stay home, rather than go out to bars and restaurants as often.

Emerging trends

The foodpeople sees ‘free food’ as a new driver for consumption habits: foraging for ingredients rather than relying on packaged ingredients; fishing; and growing your own.

It also expects to see a rise in ‘freeganism’ – that is, the practice of living off discarded, yet perfectly edible food that has been thrown out. To date the freegan movement has been driven by green crusaders who object to unnecessarily wasted food clogging up landfill sites. Now, however, it could be catching on with people who are trying to decrease household spending.

People may well start to club together and produce food by committee, with the rise of community food projects.

Sustainability and health

Despite the emphasis on thrifty food provision, Thefoodpeople does not expects that all of the other big topics steering the industry will go off the boil.

For instance, it expects to see sustainability “remain high on the agenda”. This includes sustainable fish sourcing, and investigating little consumed varieties that are not endangered, such as rock fish and flounder.

Some of the ‘nice to haves’, on the other hand, such as organic foods, may well drop back in importance.

The focus on health is unlikely to fade, in terms of ultra low calorie foods, instant nutrition and health through natural choices.

“The next generation of desserts” will contain less sugar and derive more flavours from the ingredients themselves, and also cross the line into savoury sensations.

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