As it’s Christmas soon, I will share some key food and health themes I have witnessed and worked with in 2014, and reflect on whether we will continue to see these in 2015.
The first overarching trend has been better-quality foods. By that I mean the dramatic shift we have seen from cheap value ranges to the recognition of the necessity to add value and quality back in. There has been a movement back to naturalness and authenticity. You know a trend has hit mainstream when you see Aldi’s amazing value yet high-quality fresh British turkeys this Christmas. Their Roly Poly turkeys are great value, yet have been superbly cared for in ‘turkey villages’, even being kept entertained by radios in woodland locations across Norfolk! This trend is here to stay.
Nutrition is a word that has been merrily bandied about the food industry throughout 2014. It’s far more useful and actionable than the nebulous term ‘wellbeing’. That said, despite the buzz, it is not yet understood at a deeper level. It sounds healthier than less nutritious options, but work needs to be done to clearly explain the specifics.
Nutrition will move forward and involve more fortified and natural foods initially, followed closely by preventative nutrition and medical nutrition choices. The longer-term movement will be towards preventative dietary behaviour, delivered conveniently. I am convinced protein will continue to play a leading role.
‘Nutrition’ is far more useful than the nebulous term ‘wellbeing’
Ageing consumers need better choices to meet changing sensory and nutritional needs. Thought needs to go beyond the younger 50-ish ageing ‘consumer’ to 70+ patients and the person caring for, buying or selecting products and brands for friends and relatives. There are also tipping points that need to be understood, whereby consumer behaviour becomes patient-type behaviour - this can even be the case before the consumer is a diagnosed patient. Brands such as Wiltshire Farm Foods and On the Menu are definitely on to an upward-moving market trend.
The connection between health, economics and food has started to feel much closer to the top of food businesses agendas in 2014. That said, much greater clarity is needed over how better food choices and behaviour will save the health system money and enhance individuals’ personal health long term. Good nutrition and food plays a key role, but it needs to be made clearer to consumers.
It’s pretty hard to think ‘healthy’ just as many of us are about to tuck into turkey and Christmas pudding. But I hope, given my healthy musings, you don’t mind me using my final words to wish you a healthy, nutritious and happy new year for 2015!
Claire Nuttall is founding partner at Thrive Unlimited