A balancing act for 2014

The food and health industry is rapidly changing, and as such brands need to stay on trend in order to remain competitive. We’ve spoken to some of the key industry influencers to make our 2014 trend predictions. With economic difficulties still prevalent for consumers, 2014 is going to be a year of balancing opposites. The economy may be showing signs of recovery, yet at the same time, the cost of living remains high and consumers continue to feel the pinch.

We will see contradictory behaviour such as treat purchasing and thrifty saving, cooking from scratch verses value-added healthy convenience food, traditionalism against the new, and a growing ageing population alongside a young, powerful social-media generation. We will also see the emergence of the ‘indie woman’ – the over-27-year-old brand-conscious, unmarried, financially independent females, who are predicted to spend collectively £50bn on food and drink next year.

Here is our list of the top ten food and health trends for 2014:

1. Sustainable eating
Supporting homegrown food and UK food production, including eating in season and consuming more fruit and vegetables, is becoming more than just fashionable, it’s expected. Fresher and therefore considered healthier, home-grown food makes economic sense through a time of austerity and allows consumers to feel better about their fast-paced, mostly city-dwelling lives. There will be room for more convenient homegrown food offers, but the message will have to be clear and the product high in added value and quality.

2. Fresh influences
Travel, food and cookery shows will become even more influential, and larger consumer food budgets, due to taking fewer holidays, will mean that certain people will allow ‘treat’ grocery purchases. The main influences – coming from South America, South East Asia, Scandinavia and Japan – will bring healthy and fresh-tasting new flavours and products to the marketplace.

3. Going au natural
More natural products will be on the shelves in 2014 due to an increase in food allergy and intolerance awareness, as well as a health-drive for more pure ingredients, like raw chocolate and coconut products. Foraged food, including roots, mushrooms, truffles and different fresh herbs, like wild garlic, as well as offal and game have been trending in London restaurants for the last couple of years and will feature more in the higher-end supermarkets come spring 2014.

4. Starting from scratch
Producing less waste and making the most of home economy, consumers will try to cook from scratch more. This will include recipe cards and component meal solutions, as well as purposeful product placement linking up foods that can be cooked together in the shopping aisles. Encouragement from various baking and cookery TV shows means more people will be making their own bread and preserving, with the added benefit that they know exactly what is in the food.

5. Need a helping hand?
The average cookery skill level of a consumer in the UK is low, so veg boxes and recipe and ingredient cookery kits delivered to your door will come into their own in 2014. With cook-by-numbers solutions, sometimes with weighed and chopped ingredients, the home cook feels as if they have done most of the work, without wasting money and time on a misleading recipe, although their hands have been held. It is only a matter of time before the retailers offer an equivalent.

6. Cooking online
Due to the number of technological devices and the tablet’s suitability to the kitchen, the number of people accessing cooking demonstrations via YouTube, Vimeo, Facebook and blogs is set to rise. People have realised that they can teach themselves to cook at the touch of a button and, not only that, they can make a meal alongside a professional, making cooking much less scary. Any food-related marketing campaign should include a film demonstrating how to use its products via a recipe and not underestimate the ever-increasing power of the blogger.

7. Hybrid recipes
Here we’ll see the somewhat wacky Heston effect go mainstream. Culinary alchemy is already drip-feeding through the food world with unusual flavour combinations, such as Marmite chocolate or Earl Grey tea gin. Fusions between different cultures, like white miso paste in a shepherd’s pie, will also become popular. The food still has to taste nice though, so don’t fall into the shock tactic trap – a bad combination can do more harm than good. Chocolate Mint Pringle, anyone?

8. From three to six
Nutritionists have seen food portions decrease in size and meal occasions increase over the last couple of years and, in 2014, we are set to see people consuming smaller meals as much as six times a day, as well as snacking on particularly nutrient-rich foods. The over-50s, with growing nutritional and indigestion issues, and the health-conscious, time-short indie women are two of the main consumer groups that will drive this. Portions of just protein, like sandwich chain Pret’s boiled egg and spinach pot, will become more widely available.

9. Botanical baking
A healthy alterative to conventional baking, this wave of cakes and biscuits use herbs, fat alternatives like fruit and vegetables, and rose, ginger and spices as flavourings instead of chocolate and sugar. Continuing The Great British Bake Off macro-trend, healthy baking is the next big thing and will allow people to feel less guilty about the nation’s cake obsession.

10. Get personal
Personable marketing is going to be crucial next year. Whether you’re a part of a multi-million-pound firm or a new start-up business, people want to feel that the company making their food is a good friend, or at least a well-run ethical company. Food is very emotive and increasingly consumers want to know where it comes from: familiarity will gain trust.

To sum up, we predict that 2014 will be a balancing act; from the balance between new and traditional influences, young and old consumers, to the lavish and the inexpensive. Although contradictions can be confusing, the trends outlined here have many overlaps and can work hand in hand. For marketing and communication, they highlight the importance of a strategic, multi-channel approach and targeted demographic-specific messages to reach and influence different kinds of audiences in a personal manner.

We hope you find the insights useful as you plan your next earned media campaign. If you have any questions, or would like to discuss your PR plans for 2014, please contact us at info@kaizo.co.uk.

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