What are the sector opportunities for farmers?
Emerging trends don’t have to be scary; they can be an opportunity to reach a new market and create added value. We spoke to AHDB’s consumer insights team for more information.
There is a general trend to eat less red meat and more vegetables or white meat, but more than 90 per cent of British households still buy meat, according to Kantar Worldpanel figures.
The way we are eating it is changing though, presenting both a challenge and an opportunity for livestock farmers.
- Products and cuts which are tasty, but quick and convenient to cook (less than 30 minutes), command a premium. For example, AHDB has been promoting thin-cut beef steaks to encourage meat in mid-week meals and its promotion of pulled pork became a success for pork shoulder.
- Retailers want lean meat, as part of the healthy trend, but restaurants want high-quality, flavoursome meat with more fat to serve the trend to eat out and indulge more. So know who you are aiming at.
- Products which fit with the ‘flexitarian’ trend to eat less meat. For example, traditional meat products, such as sausages, where some of the meat is replaced with vegetables/pulses. The meat alternative sector shows strong potential for future growth and investors see it as a key prospect. Health, environment and welfare, Government/health agency support for cutting meat and dairy consumption and growing global demand for protein, all point to a more lasting disruption. Half of meat alternative sales come from meat eaters.
- Products and flavours which appeal to our growing taste for world cuisine. Check out pop-up restaurants and street food stalls for the next trends. Indian and Chinese dishes are still the most common world food to be eaten at home, according to Mintel, but Mexican (also Tex-Mex), Thai, American and Caribbean cuisines are becoming increasingly popular.
Dairy’s health benefits, particularly as regards protein, are being recognised more, but there is also a trend towards non-dairy alternatives. One-quarter of people say they have cut back on standard cows’ milk for health reasons, according to Mintel. However, spending on dairy grew 4.8 per cent last year, more than the total grocery market and demand for high-value products present an opportunity.
- Milk to serve the growing coffee industry and soft drinks. Younger consumers are drinking less tea with milk (more herbal teas), but volumes have been kept high by more milk-based coffee beverages. Flavoured milk drinks are considered more healthy than fizzy soft drinks by 38 per cent of milk buyers (Source: Mintel).
- Cheese is bucking the trend and is highly valued by millennials (those born 1981-1996) and there is more space for innovation, new convenient formats, new flavours and variants to drive interest. This includes dishes made using cheese.
- Vegetarian products: Vegetarians are eating more dairy than before (+16% according to Kantar Worldpanel).
- Branded products with functional (health) benefits, such as kefir (fermented milk product) and innovative milks such as A2. Those high in protein are a big part of the health food trend currently and there are a growing number of dairy products aimed at this.
- Products aimed at young parents may present opportunity. AHDB and Dairy UK’s joint campaign is aimed at millennial parents to remind them of all the great things about dairy.
- Dairy is nearly always eaten as an accompaniment to other food. Growth areas are in breakfast cereals and porridge (particularly yoghurt) and savoury cooking.
- Italian dishes: 20% of all cheese consumed by millennials is in Italian dishes.
Cereals, pulses and potatoes
As our cooking time has reduced and our preferences have changed, the traditional meat and two veg meal has become less frequent. One-pot meals and world cuisine are the order of the day, and this had resulted in a drop in fresh potato consumption and an increase in carbohydrates such as wheat, oats and quinoa.
Opportunities can be found in:
- Pulses: Consumption is rising as people turn to plant-based proteins (see our case study on mixed, organic farmer Mark Lea).
- Oats for breakfast: Breakfast occasions have been impacted by changing choices. Eggs and yoghurt at breakfast are in growth, as is the number of cereals occasions, with porridge in particular growing strongly.
- Specialist cereal and breads: With the health trend, there are opportunities for cereal and bread products with functional benefits, such as high-fibre products or those fortified with different nutrients.
- Ancient grains: There is growth in different grain types, such as ancient grains including quinoa and ancient wheat varieties. Products aimed at home baking may see growth as the popularity of TV show The Great British Bake Off continues. Free-from baked goods, such as gluten-free bread. This category grew 14.5% last year.
- Alternatives to bread: Consumers are turning to brioche, croissants, bagels, wraps and pitta bread, according to Kantar Worldpanel.
- Processed/convenient potato products: Sales of these, as opposed to fresh potatoes, are growing year-on-year. Crisps and chilled are growing fastest. Innovation in products should focus on convenience, healthy snacking, premium snacking, exciting flavours, potato-based alcohol and continental cuisine.
Fruit and vegetables
The trend towards plant-based protein alternatives could offer opportunities, as could a move back towards cooking from scratch.
Opportunities can be found in:
- ‘Flexitarian’ products: For people who are meat eaters but are choosing to eat less meat. This could include products containing meat, but with some replaced by vegetables and pulses.
- Convenient products could be a key opportunity.
- Healthy products: Some of the macro trends mentioned in the other sections are impacting in a positive way, such as fruit and vegetables primarily chosen for health reasons.
- Products/marketing to encourage people to cook from scratch, as there is a resurgence in interest.
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