It should come as no surprise that conscious consumption has made its way to the forefront of consumer habits over the past few years. Conscious consumption is about the consumer not only wanting to know more about the nutritional benefits of the food they eat, but also a need to know where it came from, how it was sourced and how far it travelled to reach their plate.
This all comes down to a demand for transparency and traceability, and we can see these values resonating and reflecting throughout businesses and supply chains.
There are now 2 key features that are necessary for the consumer when they are deciding where to place their pound. I would argue that conscious consumption and convenience are the 2 underlying themes that are reflected in foodservice that we are currently seeing, and also sets the tone for the coming trends as we embrace an age of environmental awareness.
The power of the consumer to dictate how businesses are operating should never be overlooked. With this in mind, we decided to take a look into the emerging consumer trends of 2021, and how businesses are responding and adapting their operations to meet these expectations.
Here are 3 examples of consumer trends and reactionary operational changes that are setting the tone for 2021 and onwards:
According to a survey conducted by finder.com this year, they found 3 very revealing consumer habits that are shaping the way we are shopping. These findings are:
“Almost 500,000 Brits gave up meat in 2020”
“People following veganism increased by 40% in 2020”
“Younger generations are significantly more likely to follow a meat-free diet, with a fifth of Gen Z already doing so (20%) and a further 26% planning to adopt one in 2021.” (1)
These key 3 findings identify a blatant turn away from meat consumption, and an equally powerful stride towards meat-free products. From a consumer perspective, these findings may not come as a surprise - Every aisle in supermarkets has its fair share of ‘meat-free’, ‘meat-alternative’, ‘vegetarian’, or ‘vegan’ options. A Guardian study suggested that by 2040, 60% of meat consumed will be replaced by meat-free alternatives. (2)
Plant-based alternatives are nothing new, but their success has been staggering over the past few years, and food manufacturers have taken notes and these changes have been reflected directly onto our shelves, and plates too.
This quest for meaty tasting, but meat-alternatives has lead to the production of meat
The convenience of eating out was becoming increasingly favoured by consumers, even before lockdown. Platforms offering restaurant-quality food, for the same price minus the hassle of organising an evening out has seen platforms like UBER eats and Deliveroo huge success in a relatively short space of time. This growth obviously boomed over lockdown with the absence of hospitality.
A reaction to this growing trend was the emergence of the ‘Ghost Kitchen’. Restaurants saw an opportunity; a growing demand for quality food enjoyed at home meant that the traditional overhead of running a kitchen, paying rent, worker wages and so on could be dramatically minimised with the removal of floor-space and the majority of workers from the establishment.
Ghost Kitchens are essentially restaurants, with the option for dining-in completely removed, and instead these establishments serve solely as a delivery service. They synchronise with UBER, Deliveroo and other delivery service providers to adhere to changing consumer demand whilst intelligently maximising profits. (3)
Although many of us may question the bizarre nature of the ghost kitchen, being rather anti-social in nature - we must remember that this is kind of what we asked for, by using our consumer power to set the trend to begin with.
Zero food waste
A tangent of conscious consumption and a push for sustainability is reducing food waste. This is not a novel ambition from both consumer and business perspectives, however, the technologies included in the quest for minimising wastage have been innovative and groundbreaking in recent years.
Smartphones act as an additional limb for most people these days. They go wherever we go and extend our understanding of the world, impacting what we can do and what we know.
When pairing the technology we have in our hands with the aim to reduce food waste, apps such as Too Good to Go, Olio, and Odd Boxes are organic developments.
Too Good to Go is an app created with this aim in mind. They pair with bakeries, cafes, restaurants and bars to help reduce daily wastage while providing consumers with discounted food.
Consumers download the app, buy a ‘mystery box’ of discounted foods that would otherwise be thrown away that day, and then they can collect their produce at specific windows throughout the day that align with the businesses’ replenishment system.
Olio works in a fairly similar way, but works on a consumer-to-consumer level as well as B2C; Users post items on the app that they are going to throw away, choose pick-up windows, and reduce their wastage. Olio has already teamed up with some large retailers and suppliers, including Tesco’s, Pret a manger, Sainsbury’s, and planet organic.
And finally, the odd boxes - Odd veg boxes are packages of mis-shapen fruit & veggies that would not make it as far as the shelves, but now they can make it to your doorstep, rather than to the bins.