The Good Consumer speaks! As we predicted, ethically-conscious customers are culminating in a powerful movement that’s persuading mainstream retailers and food producers to listen up and make some changes.

Here we take a look at some of the shifts in culture and behaviour affecting the food industry in 2018.

Self care

Now we know all the ‘free’ (dairy, gluten, fat, sugar) food has been trending for some time, but what we noticed at the tail of end of last year was food was less about restriction and more about healthy choices.

Mindfulness, balance and ‘self care’ are all key cultural trends for 2018 and are now working their way into food. The message is ‘ditch the diet and find what works for you’. Treat yo’self with tasty, nutritional foods and indulge in righteous comfort foods. Pandora from Rooted London came to speak at our BareAll event and inspired us with her take on intuitive eating. We’ve been loving her comforting, energising and nourishing recipes (we highly recommend the sweet potato dahl!).

Medicinal foods are also on the up. Food that is consumed at its peak nutritional value, food that’s raw, food that’s pickled, fermented and food that is super.

Ethical Innovation

Exhibiting at Food Matters Live at the end of 2017, we noticed the prevalence of health products (some that defied belief – edible tableware anyone?) and the vegan section had certainly grown. With the continued pressure on natural resources, sustainable and plant-based food choices are rising in popularity and consumers are looking for convenient, healthy and planet-friendly options.

Technological advances are racing ahead with food solutions at the moment. The Impossible Burger is finally a reality thanks to the Heme, ‘an iron-containing molecule that occurs naturally in every single plant and animal’ and is synthetically produced to make juicy, meat-like burgers to satisfy the carnivores but reduce the impact of the meat industry on the planet.

Expect to see more of this sustainable food research and meat alternative products arriving on supermarket shelves near you.

Packaging

As Theresa May commits the UK to ‘eliminating all avoidable plastic waste by 2042’, consumers are increasingly concerned about the usage of plastics and retailers are getting wise to it. David Attenborough sparked a nation of concern with his series Blue Planet II and we’ve all begun to wake up to the very real prospect of feeling the implications of pollution in our lifetimes.

Food retailers Iceland have been one of the first supermarkets to pledge plastic-free own-brand products with director Richard Walker saying

The onus is on retailers, as leading contributors to plastic packaging pollution and waste, to take a stand and deliver meaningful change.”

Hopefully, with such a mainstream food brand taking a stand, coupled with the government suggesting initiatives like ‘plastic-free aisles’ in supermarkets, we’ll start to see a step change in the amount of unsustainable and planet-damaging materials being dumped into our oceans and threatening our very existence.

Flavours

With the rise of wellness and self care comes a host of new flavours, bordering perhaps on the medicinal, but seemingly veering towards the fresher, zingier end of the scale:

  • African food is on the rise again, according to our taste buds, with flavours such as Ethiopian berebere or Moroccan ras el hanout.
  • Though smoothies aren’t making headlines in the same way they used to, we’re still loving them and using them to top up immunity or get a shot of goodness into our systems. Ingredients like parsley, cayenne and amchur.
  • The superdrink kombucha was big in 2017 and with that brought a penchant for bitter, sour flavours – coupled with the trend for an apple cider vinegar shot in the morning – strong, stringent flavours are on the up.

What are your food predictions? What are you enjoying so far this year? (We’re trying desperately to drop the cheeseboard obsession fuelled by christmas, to no avail.) Share your thoughts! @giantpeach