I had the pleasure of attending the Food Innovation Solutions webinar the other week. Here are my key takeouts from the presentation featuring internal research conducted by thefoodpeople and Good Sense Research:

Delighting diners has never been more important.

  • Customers are looking for joy in their lives!
  • 96% of people have mentioned that food is the main driver of their cost-of-living increases.
  • The hospitality industry is also facing increasing costs across food and energy. Many are switching back to reduced menu size and complexity, offering set menus and elevating sides and charging more for these to maintain appealing entry level main prices.
  • Cuisines that offer comfort, indulgence and familiarity, such as Italian, British and American, are the most popular so far in 2023. In times of stress and chaos, consumers tend to reach for comforting and safe foods; quick-wins and small moments of joy, which is usually why nostalgia tends to thrive in a recession.
  • Meat strikes back.
    • The proportion of consumers eating a plant based diet out of home hasn’t increased by much from pre to post pandemic. This is because eating meat when eating out delights consumers, especially when reducing the amount of meat eaten at home. If consumers are eating out in a recession, then it has to be worth it; people are less likely to take gambles on dishes they’re less familiar with, such as the innovative plant-based options so default to trusted meat dishes they know they will enjoy.
    • There’s no doubt that plant-based eating is now a permanent part of the dining landscape, but meat has definitely found its voice as part of a ‘less & better’ approach driving the consumption of higher welfare premium meat less often.
    • We’ve likely reached ‘peak plant’ in terms of menu share – many plant-based dishes on menus make up 50%.
    • Cellular meat is becoming more acceptable and may be the future of meat.
  • Reducing waste is both cost effective and the responsible choice.
    • Using all parts of the vegetable, animal and seafood to reduce waste is still on the rise, alongside consumer knowledge of the food waste issue.
  • Local sourcing and shortening the supply chain offers a degree of certainty to both chefs and consumers.
    • It drives emotional connection and resonance knowing who is involved in the production, and thus diners feel good about their food choices. As a result, chefs and operators are featuring hero seasonal ingredients to offer innovation and seasonality on menus.
    • Since 2020, there’s been 15% increase in restaurant patrons that are aware and interested in shorter menus featuring seasonal ingredients.
  • Sustainability has become an absolute necessity – Michelin.
    • Since 2020, there has been a 6% rise in the attractiveness of restaurants that implement sustainability measures. It’s crucial to prioritise sustainability as it will remain a critical factor for consumers in the medium and long run.

To receive the full report and find out more about Future Food click here.

Thank you to Charles at thefoodpeople and Kelly at Good Sense Research for such an insightful and interesting webinar – we’ll certainly make use of these macro and micro behavioural trends and look forward to seeing how these predictions pan out in 2023 and beyond!