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Waitrose Food and Drink Report: the rise of the mindful consumer

30 November 2018

Mindfulness of our wellbeing and environment is having a huge influence on the way we shop and eat, according to the Waitrose Food and Drink Report 2018-19. Let’s look at some of the trends in more depth.

The annual report by Waitrose food and drink report is based on extensive research into current food and drink trends. It combines consumer research of 2,000 people across Britain (not just Waitrose shoppers, across all ages) as well as focus group research in which participants were asked in-depth questions about their shopping, cooking and eating habits. Waitrose also says that the report is “backed up with sales data from millions of purchases throughout the year”.

Trend #1: The mindful consumer

The report begins with a look at how mindfulness is reshaping our consumer habits. This mindfulness is a way of living that takes the health and welfare of individuals, their families, communities, and our planet into careful consideration.

“Being mindful of how we live and eat has become a priority in today’s world,” states
Rob Collins, Partner & Managing Director, Waitrose & Partners. “The driving force behind this movement, as our research uncovered, is a desire to look after ourselves and our environment.”

Increasingly, the mindful consumer has a long list of criteria that foods must meet to be considered for purchase. Indeed, these are now ‘hygiene’ factors (i.e. factors that must be present) but are not necessarily differentiators for purchase.

The list of considerations or motivators includes:

  • Vegan/vegetarian
  • Organic
  • No allergens
  • Positive nutritional profile
  • Eco-friendly footprint
  • Non GM

This increased number of constraints brings challenges for producers, such as technical difficulties and potential higher costs associated with product development.

Trend #2: Personalised nutrition

The report goes on to consider the technological aspect of personalised nutrition. From Fitbits to smartphone apps, we can monitor what we consume and how it affects us. The information can already be used to create personalised dietary tips and shopping lists.

Personalised nutrition has been a topic of conversation in the industry for many years, but only over the last few could consumers positively take advantage. Online stores such as MyProtein offer nutritional components in a way that was previously only available to the trade and professionals. Offering individual nutritional components allows for much greater personalisation but this can be a challenge for manufacturers to offer and support.

Trend #3: Embracing bitterness

Despite the fact as a nation we enjoy international cuisine; bitterness has tended to be the poor cousin to sweet, salty and sour flavours. However, the report identifies that bitter finally appears to be making its mark.

“High-cocoa chocolate and kale are now part of the mainstream, while the trend for charring food over a naked flame is bringing a distinctive tang to restaurants.”

Trend #4: Food from West Africa

Bitter flavours are certainly more common abroad and in terms of embracing international offerings, the report shows we’re seeing a rising wave of product development requests for West African food (particularly Ghana, Nigeria and Senegal). This encompasses snacks, meals and drinks – all offering a heady taste, lots of spice and aromas to be reckoned with.

“Whether it’s tangy chicken yassa or tasty jollof rice, dishes are often cooked in one pot, so lend themselves to the trend for sharing. The vibrancy of the cuisine is astonishing.”

Read the full Waitrose Food and Drink Report here. If you’re looking to add some new influences to your product range or struggling to get your product right, Froghop can help, read about how we do it.

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