For the food and drink Expert Outlook 2015 Canvas8 speaks to food author Signe Rousseau, founders of the cookery school Food at 52 John and Emily Benbow and Fred Ward who is head of sales and marketing at Hello Fresh UK.
Signe Rousseau is a media researcher specialising at the rise of celebrity chefs, food, media and the attention economy, and is author of Food Media and Food & Social Media.
Hopefully in 2015 there’ll be less talk about and eating of kale! On a more serious note, there'll be an increasing focus on what some scholars have dubbed ‘subnatural’ foods - foods that have been historically regarded as off-putting: offal, fermented foods, smelly cheese and the like. We've already seen this to some extent with the growing popularity of ‘nose-to-tail’ eating, but now it’s getting intellectual attention, for example through a collaboration between Noma's Nordic Food Lab and Duke University. ‘Subnatural’, therefore, seems primed for further academic and mainstream exploration.
Committing to an LCHF lifestyle, or seeking out the latest subnatural or ‘authentic’ food experience remains a privilege for those who can afford it
Another noteworthy trend which doesn't show signs of slowing despite lacking scientific rigour, is the LCHF (low-carb-high-fat) movement. Cape Town will host the world's first LCHF conference in early 2015, bringing international authors and scientists together in a town that already boasts several ‘Banting’ restaurants (Banting was the name of a nineteenth-century British undertaker who reportedly lost a lot of weight on a low-carb diet). The ‘Real Meal Revolution Cookbook’, co-authored by controversial sports scientist and LCHF-advocate Tim Noakes, is the biggest best-seller in South Africa ever, and is set to be published internationally very soon.
Committing to an LCHF lifestyle, or seeking out the latest subnatural or ‘authentic’ food experience remains a privilege for those who can afford it. For the majority of people, the way they eat probably won’t change significantly - they’ll be more interested in a new crisp flavour or soft drink than revolutionising their eating habits.
Will we still be eating (and instagramming) kale in 2015?
Steph Goralnick, Creative Commons (2011) ©
Brands should focus on aligning brand logic and expectations, and think carefully about the potential implications of breaking that mould. Take the example of Coke Life. From a consumer perspective, it’s easy to think "if this is 'Life', should we associate other Coke products with death?" Clearly, the product isn’t supposed to evoke this association but it easily does. Innovation is important but it has to make sense.
The South African equivalent of Marks & Spencer is Woolworths, and they’re very much on the ball when it comes to launching new products - not always innovative, but with enough of a twist on the ‘usual’ to keep things interesting. So, whether it’s new relishes and spreads for the Christmas table, or a new glaze for the gammon, their main strength is to keep long-term customers loyal. If there’s always something new to check out, people stay interested.
John and Emily Benbow are the founders of the cookery school Food at 52.
In 2015, the trend for buying locally produced food will continue, with an increased interest in anecdotes around provenance. Shopping at farmers’ markets will be about meeting the producers. People also seem to be interested in getting closer to raw ingredients and eating food that’s in season.
‘Swaps’ between food retailers and suppliers is another trend that’ll grow in 2015. For example, Simply Fresh in Hackney get bread from a Borough Market café in exchange for supplying the cafe with produce from the Simply Fresh shop.
Restaurants such as St. John have been championing nose-to-tail eating for a long time but it’s not always that affordable. This is something we think will change in 2015. In a similar vein, we’re excited about a new restaurant in London’s Shepherd’s Market called Kitty Fisher’s. They have a tight menu focusing on interesting cuts or types of fish combined with the finest seasonal ingredients and all cooked very simply on a wood grill.
In 2015, the trend for buying locally produced food will continue, with an increased interest in anecdotes around provenance
Whilst celebrity chefs are always going to be important, people are inspired by real people. YouTube channels enable people to feel much more connected to the ‘experts’ they’re learning from so we can expect to see more of these.
Due to changes in legislation regarding the way restaurants have to inform people about allergens, food companies will need to think differently about ingredients. Also, ‘special diet’ everyday items - gluten-free bread, dairy-free milk etc - will continue expanding into more exciting, flavoursome products and be more readily available - much in the same way you can now get Vita Coco coconut water in every corner shop.
People seem to be busier than ever. They don’t have time to prepare elaborate meals but are sick of buying supermarket meal deals. In 2015, therefore, people are going to look for more convenient ways to cook from scratch (scratch cooking.) High quality frozen foods such as those from French chain Picard will see growth.
People continue to be inspired by their travels and so world cuisine dishes - especially Asian - are extremely popular. At Food at 52, Italian is still our best-seller.
Whilst celebrity chefs are always going to be important, people are inspired by real people
Jaume Escofet, Creative Commons (2014) ©
We’ve responded to some of these themes by introducing new classes for 2015. For instance, Kitchen Basics equips people with the skills and confidence to tackle all types of cooking from basic sauce and pastry through to creating impressive dinner parties. And Mid-Week Seasonal Suppers provides foolproof, healthy, and inspiring main meals that can be cooked in less than 30 minutes and use ingredients you’ll find in your local convenience store.
There’s been an explosion of cookery schools, especially in London, over the last 12 months - from full-day courses on Groupon for £39 to small, specialist cookery schools run from people’s homes. Central Cookery School and Bread Angels are both great examples. For virtually no money, Bread Angels teaches unemployed people how to set up their own bread stalls and market to local restaurants and cafes.
Fred Ward is the head of sales and marketing at Hello Fresh UK
In 2015, we expect the food industry - particularly grocery - to become more competitive as the ‘big four’ continue to lose market share both from the discounters and upmarket retailers. As they struggle to compete on price with Aldi and Lidl - who both have very strong value offerings - they’ll need to carve out a new identity that offers more than just low prices. That’s why we expect there to be a big focus on customer loyalty.
A great example of a simple but effective loyalty campaign from 2014 was the free coffee/newspaper rolled out for myWaitrose card holders. Here, a tangible benefit cut through the price comparison noise used by Morrisons, Tesco, Sainsbury's and Asda.
We also expect more focus on online strategy especially in terms of investment in logistics and delivery innovation. Primarily, this offers the consumer greater flexibility by narrowing delivery windows and the time between placing and receiving an order.
There’s a conscious move by consumers to take more interest in where their produce comes from. After the ‘horsegate’ scandal, people have been more wary of what they’re buying
Even in the short time that Hello Fresh has been around, we’ve seen people become more comfortable and confident with online shopping - a trend we expect to accelerate in 2015. Online is still a very small percentage of the overall grocery market but growing quickly. I think, partly, there’s been a rise in standards as people can now get the same or better quality food delivered to their door as they’d pick for themselves. And partly, it’s to do with growing trust in delivery options.
Brands will continue to look to leverage opportunities in online and improve their product offering particularity with regards to delivery. A great example is the tie-up between Shutl and Wholefoods who look to offer delivery within an hour of purchase across London.
The rise of subscription models such as Graze, Flavourly and Hello Fresh suggest people also enjoy an element of surprise and not having to think about what they’re ordering.
Since the ‘horsegate’ scandal, people have been more wary of what they’re buying and taken more interest in where it comes from. They tend to trust British products over anything else so we’re seeing a significant trend for buying British. This trend is being further driven by people’s awareness of their carbon footprint and a demand for greater transparency.
Generally, we feel people are becoming more adventurous both with what they’re eating and cooking. Our customers are showing a growing interest in more exotic flavours - particularly Asian.
In 2015, we expect start-ups to focus on connecting consumers and supplier, and doing away with the middle men. Part of this will be communicating the benefits of working direct and playing on growing disenchantment with the supermarkets.
Look out for Farmdrop, an online marketplace that connects consumers directly with suppliers based on Good Eggs from the US. Farmdrop is exciting because it was founded as a tech business that delivers food not a food business that’s going into tech. Their innovative approach to connecting the consumer directly with primary producers gives everyone a better deal.
People are becoming more adventurous both with what they are eating and cooking
Chris Ford, Creative Commons (2013) ©
For restaurants, 2015 will be about finding ways to untap growing online opportunities as highlighted by the rise of Just Eat in 2014.
We’re big fans of EatFirst who deliver food to your desk. This highlights the key trends towards convenience and provenance with great quality suppliers and a small delivery window - in this case, 15 minutes. We’re also excited by Deliveroo which looks to give local, high quality restaurants an outlet to the growing online takeaway market.