Interpreting the food industry’s 2012 food trends

food & drink towers just released the results of their annual survey into food and drink trends. The sixth annual 10 Top Trends Report (free to everyone) tells us what to look out for in the coming year.

I thought it would be fun to interpret the results of the report for me and my readers.

Here are the food & drink towers Ten Top Trends For 2012, and my take on them. I’ve just taken snippets – there’s a lot more to the report than this, and you can get the full version here.

1. Regional producers get a boost

The survey identified that authenticity, provenance and ‘localness’ will be very important (19%) or important (51%) next year. Important factors: the sustainability benefits of ‘going local’, reducing the environmental footprint and increasing sustainability will be important to more than half of respondents.

thefitwriter says: I have said for ages now that I’m going to buy meat from some of the many farm shops around here, and get my eggs from farm shops or individuals who keep chickens. 2012 will be the year! What about you? Do you buy local? Does it matter to you?

2. Uplifting food and drink to improve our moods

Happiness and stress have been identified as the two ‘mood food’ areas that hold strong potential for growth in 2012 at 45% and 39% respectively. Energy, the biggest sub-category within the functional food and drinks market, continues to offer growth potential. 38% of respondents to the survey predict energy will show strong growth potential, and 41% agree it will offer average growth potential. Sleep/fatigue also shows good growth potential.

thefitwriter says: This year’s foray into bodybuilding and nutrition has certainly shown me that there are links between mood and food. I know full well that if I eat – say – meat or eggs, with some veg for breakfast, I’ll feel great all day. If I fall face-first into cereal (even “good for you” stuff like oats), I’ll feel yuk. What about you? What’s your good-mood food?

3. Packaging innovations to provide the answer

As costs are being cut, packaging will become a focus for brand owners keen to improve margins from production to market. Reducing packaging weight/size, also known as lightweighting, is not only an environmentally-friendly move, but it can result in cost savings over the long term.

thefitwriter says: I just started buying milk in those floppy “bags” rather than in plastic bottles. *polishes halo* We did get milk from the milkman but he started delivering at about midday and my husband got in a rage. (I don’t drink milk – I use Oatly, or Kara.) I hate hate hate it when you buy something which is wrapped in plastic, then the entire things is wrapped in plastic again. So wasteful. Do you buy anything particular innovative in terms of packaging?

4. Learning to… grow your own, bake your own, make your own

How much influence do cookery programmes such as Masterchef and Nigel Slater’s Simple Suppers have on consumer shopping habits in general? According to the Survey, 23% say they’re hugely influential, 66% believe them to be influential and just 11% say they are not influential.

thefitwriter says: Oh yes! 2011 was the year when I started to grow my own, and I’ll do so again this year. As long-term readers will know, I love to bake. How about you? Is pottering in the garden and kitchen your idea of down-time or does it wind you up?

5. Foraging for truffles, mushrooms, wild berries and edible mini-beasts

Courses are available nationwide teaching people how to forage, what to look for, and then turning their discoveries into three-course meals. This is the ultimate in foodie heaven for those who enjoy getting stuck in!

thefitwriter says: Well, this is a funny one actually, because I have a blog post in my drafts folder about this very topic. During the latter stages of prep, thefitdog and I would do on our long walks and I’d pick blackberries (putting them in poo bags – unused ones, obvs) and then save them for a treat. What a shame they’re not growing now, when I could munch them as I went along if I wanted to. I must admit I’m not brave enough to forage for fungi. And I’m not sure I’d know a truffle if I saw one. Do you forage? Have you ever eaten a mini-beast?!

6. Going beyond the dinner party – at-home dining occasions become more regular

People will invest a little more time and effort (but not necessarily money) into meal times on a more regular basis to cheer themselves up, entertain and add some fun to ‘just another working week’. Original recipes and unusual ingredients will be the focus for home-cooks who will be influenced by television programmes, foodie magazines, websites, social networks such as Twitter and Facebook and Smartphone apps.

thefitwriter says: I enjoy the challenge of creating my own version of whatever my husband and our friends are eating (if they get takeout curry, I’ll cook my own). Maybe I could be the first bodybuilder on Come Dine With Me? How about you – do you do anything to make at-home dinners fun and exciting?

7. Dusting off the recipe books and cooking from scratch

Food and drink towers forecasts 2012 will be ‘the year of austerity’. In 2012, people are expected to return to their cookery books (and other resources) to get a return on their investment, get more out of their kitchen gadgets and get more creative with their cooking.

thefitwriter says: I do have a lot of cookery books I’ve rarely used. Jamie, I’m sorry! Nigella, please don’t “tumble” too many “gorgeous” ingredients on me from a height as punishment. Delia, stop looking at me like that. I do read Nigel Slater’s cookbooks but more for the pleasure of reading than because I intend to cook from them. Anyway. I do almost all my cooking from scratch. What are your favourite cook books, apps or online resources?

8. Food on the go gets a facelift

As impulse sales are forecast to continue to rise in 2012, brands must work harder for their share of the grab and go market. Convenience will remain a priority, but health is also becoming an influential factor. People are looking for quick fixes for specific lifestyle issues such as fatigue and concentration. People are also looking to top up their vitamin, mineral, antioxidant and omega-3 intake in a convenient format.

thefitwriter says: I’m not surprised by this, but I would much prefer people to make their own grab and go snacks (home made bars, muffins etc are so easy to do) or – even better – just grab the bounty of nature. Veg, fruit, cooked meat, hardboiled eggs, nuts… how easy (and cheap!) can you get? However, I realise this isn’t very helpful to food brands trying to make a profit. What do you snack on? Is health an influencing factor in what you choose, or is it price, convenience, taste?

9. Megatrends… on a budget

The survey showed that health on a budget will be hugely important (47%), followed by indulgence on a budget, convenience on a budget and premium indulgence.

thefitwriter says: An Aldi opened in our town the other week. I have yet to go. Health? I do not buy budget brands when it comes to my supplements (fish oils, vitamins etc) as I think it’s a waste of money in the long term. Indulgence? Hm, no I think if I’m going to indulge, I’ll spend whatever it takes to get whatever I really want, otherwise it might not hit the spot. What do you think? What do you choose to budget on and what do you not?

10. Original food and drink pairing: inspiration for the nation

Companies such as French Bubbles operate Champagne pairing events, matching bubbly with sushi, chocolate and cheese. Restaurants are showing greater interest in providing wine, beer, cocktail and spirit matches to certain items on their menus.

thefitwriter says: You don’t want to know some of the “original” food and drink pairings I ingest. I’m not sure the food and drink industry would be very interested. How does this trend relate to you? Do you match your protein powder flavour to your carbs? 😉

The report is ultimately the copyright of Helen Lewis, managing editor and founder at food and drink towers. Thanks to Helen for the hard work behind the survey and the report (and the previous five annual reports). Follow food and drink towers on Twitter here if you have an interest in the food and drink industry, or join food and drink towers (for free) – launched in 2006, it enables PRs, journalists, businesses and consumers to interact and increase their knowledge of the industry. Lots of regular features, daily news and press releases!

Interpreting the food industry’s 2012 food trends is a post from The Fit Writer blog.

Nicola Joyce – the Fit Writer – is a freelance copywriter and journalist who writes for the sport and fitness industry. Her main website is here.

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