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CONSUMER TRENDS A guide to planning for the future, sponsored by

Inside your consumer trends magazine

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Facts and figures on British consumer shopping habits British food trends: What are the key areas of growth?

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What are the sector opportunities for farmers? How looking at trends has added value to farm

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Foreign consumers want real produce from real people A look at what consumers elsewhere want



Matt Hood Trading director Co-Op: It is perhaps a cliche to say ‘change is the new constant’, but it is one many British farmers might identify with, given the UK’s everchanging political, consumer, retail and environmental landscape. We’ve seen how our shoppers’ habits have changed drastically: they want what they want, when they want it, we call it ‘little and often’, and we’ve worked hard to adapt to meet their needs. Britain’s farmers face the same challenges. In a world of ultrasavvy shoppers who demand high-quality, affordable food and drink, all produced to the highest standards, it is more important than ever they can appreciate and understand what drives consumer behaviour. The UK already has world-leading standards in animal husbandry, traceability and environmental care. As long as we can build on these strengths, while meeting the needs of consumers, we can continue to lead from the front and future-proof our magnificent agricultural industry. Let’s keep the Buy British flag flying for many years to come.

Understanding 3.6%

annual growth of UK food and drink sales, excluding alcohol


££££ Source: Kantar Worldpanel

number of times a week the average household shops for food Source: Kantar Worldpanel


growth of meat volumes consumed in the 12 months to August 2018; the three years before saw a 1% fall in volumes year-on-year Source: Kantar Worldpanel

7% proportion of vegetarians in population

Poultry and eggs volumes consumed have grown every year for four years

Source: AHDB/ YouGov Source: Kantar Worldpanel

Matt Hood For more information, visit


the British shopper 25%

of milk consumers have cut back on standard cows’ milk for health reasons in the past year Source: Mintel


growth of spending on dairy products last year; more than the overall grocery market Source: AHDB


young shoppers say they are more interested in this than savings on food Source: IGD


is consistently in the top five for determining food quality

British or local

51% say this


is important when determining quality of fresh produce Source: IGD

Source: IGD


of GB households buy meat

proportion of vegans in population Source: AHDB/ YouGov

Source: Kantar Worldpanel

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Food trends

Whether you want to sell direct to the public, add value by creating a product, or produce for a commodity market, it is helpful to understand where the main areas of growth are and how people eat and shop.

British food trends: What are the key areas of growth?


here is a real opportunity to add value to British farm produce, says Fraser McKevitt, head of retail and consumer insight at market analyst Kantar Worldpanel. “Farmers need to think about what people want to eat, not just what they want to grow. If you accept what people want, then you can try [to produce something to serve that market].”

says Mr McKevitt. However, this area of growth has recently shifted. Consumers are now much less interested in products where something has been removed, such as fat, and are now more into products where something has been added, says Mr McKevitt. The exception is sugar. Good examples are cereal bars and yoghurts containing added protein, as many consumers look to protein-rich foods.

Healthy eating

Dairy and alternatives

The healthy eating trend has been growing for some time,

Fraser McKevitt

As part of the healthy eating trend, there has in many ways been a positive shift in the way dairy is viewed. Rather than being seen as high in fat, consumers are increasingly viewing dairy as high in protein. However, there is also a shift towards non-dairy ‘milks’ and other products, including desserts, ice creams and yoghurts made using soy, oats, almonds or coconuts. “The darling of non-dairy, the Alpro brand, is being bought by one in every five households,” says Mr McKevitt. “People are

Farmers need to think about what people want to eat, not just what they want to grow FRASER McKEVITT

buying it who don’t have a dairy intolerance.”

‘Flexitarianism’ and plant-based proteins

There has not been a meaningly increase in the number of vegetarians (currently about 7% of the population, vegan 2%, according to AHDB/YouGov), but there has been an increase in the number of vegetarian meals consumed, says Mr McKevitt. This means more people are choosing a ‘flexitarian’ diet (7% according to AHDB/YouGov), where they switch between meals

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Food trends


Brits have a much more varied diet than 20 years ago and people are more open to different flavours and cuisines.

with and without meat, the overall aim being to eat less meat. The key drivers are health and environmental concerns. Flexitarian products are being developed as a result: In the last 12-18 months, major UK supermarkets have launched new sausages made with meat and vegetables or pulses. Sales of pulses and alternative grains, such as quinoa, are doing well and there are new products containing added plant protein, such as yoghurts with fava bean protein.

One-pot meals and variety

Brits have a much more varied diet than 20 years ago and people are more open to different flavours and cuisines, says Mr McKevitt.

This has created a knock-on effect for potato sales, as people move away from the ‘meat and two veg’ diet, towards one-pot meals. On the converse, this has meant an increase in consumption of other carbohydrates, such as rice and pasta.

prefer to put pulled-pork in the oven and leave it for 30 minutes, allowing them to go do something else, rather than sticking an instant meal in a microwave for 10 minutes.

Eating out

Eating out is growing at 5% a

Meat cuts and convenience year, according to Mr McKevitt, Big cuts such as joints are out, and smaller, convenient cuts which can be added to one-pot dishes, such as curries, stews, stir-fries and salads are in. The time people spend cooking has almost halved in two decades, says Mr McKevitt. More lately, speed has become separate to convenience, with consumers more interested in minimising effort than time. For example, people would

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driven by a long-term trend away from spending on stuff, towards spending on experiences. As part of this, new food trends are bubbling up through food trucks, pop-up markets and street food stalls. These tend to be picked up by retailers quickly – such as pulled pork, and Korean and Japanese cuisines, so are good places to look for ‘the next big thing’, says Mr McKevitt.


Sector opportunities

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.

What are the sector opportunities for farmers? Meat

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. Consumers want: 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.

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Sector opportunities


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. Consumers want: 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

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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.


Sector opportunities

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 p11). 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.

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Sector opportunities

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 peo-

ple 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

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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.


Case study

Mixed, organic farmer Mark Lea switched from growing peas for animal feed to demand. He is riding on the trend for plant-based proteins and says he is now

Look at trends and wh


hen Mark Lea grew frustrated with the fluctuating pea market for animal feed, he started looking around for an alternative. He says: “We were growing peas organically and were pretty annoyed with the market. Cheap imports were undercutting prices and it was a difficult crop to grow and sell. “So I started looking at Suma and Wholefoods catalogues [which are health food brands]. I found an article by Hodmedod – they were new at the time, so I rang them up, they came over and we got on really well.” Mark, who farms near Shifnal, in Shropshire, started supplying Hodmedod, a small company which sells British-grown Working with Hodmedod has marked a pivotal change in Mark’s business.

pulses and cereals to retailers and direct to consumers. He supplies yellow peas, which are sold as split yellow peas and black badger peas, which are often eaten as an alternative to chickpeas. But early on he also supplied blue peas, which are sold as green split peas, and marrow fat peas, which are sold for mushy peas.

Adding value and resilience

Working with Hodmedod has marked a pivotal change in his business, says Mark. The peas fit well into his cropping rotation, which includes clover, oats and 10

Mark’s peas sold by Hodmedod.

wheat varieties. He includes peas one year in every five. He also has 80 suckler cows and 100 ewes on his 202-hectare (500-acre) farm.

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Case study

those for humans when he realised they were in closer to the consumer and his crop has added value.

at is in demand


Mark Lea farms near Shifnal, in Shropshire.

The value of the crop is higher now and he is able to negotiate a fair price with Hodmedod each

year, rather than being at the mercy of commodity prices. To retain more value, Mark also cleans and dries the peas on-farm. “It’s very different to when we just used to send the peas off on a trailer to the merchant. Now I feel we have more responsibility and it’s nice to produce food rather than a commodity – I love seeing our farm name on the packaging. “Hodmedod is lovely to work with – there is a huge difference between the relationship we have with them to the feed buyer.”

Look for what’s in demand

As a mixed farmer, Mark says he is proud to produce quality meat, but it has also been good to embrace consumers who want to eat more plant-based protein too. “We produce beef and lamb,

See opportunity in plant-based proteins JOSIAH Meldrum, co-founder of Hodmedod, says: “We’ve seen a huge surge in interest in pulses, especially those grown on British farms. This reflects our cosmopolitan national tastes and enthusiasm for global cuisines, and also that consumers are increasingly choosing to eat less meat. “We think this represents a fantastic opportunity for UK

Mark’s tips: Finding a market

Look at what is being sold in supermarkets, health foods shops and online - Play to your strengths and find partners who complement these, for example with marketing and branding There is a growing number of small food companies, which can provide different relationships and opportunities to the big retailers and processors Work with people you like and build good relationships

but I would be stupid to alienate myself from one of the most rapidly growing markets we have seen in recent years. We are a mixed farm and I am proud to supply different markets.” He is now looking at heritage wheats as another possible market with added value.

farmers who are well-placed to grow protein crops, which can play an important role in more sustainable lower input rotations [they’re an excellent disease break, fix nitrogen and build soil organic matter]. “Shorter routes to market, combined with varietal selection, allow farmers like Mark to find higher value for crops which might otherwise be treated as commodities.” Josiah Meldrum

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Case study

Fergus Howie and his family have found high-value markets in Asia and the Middle

Foreign consumers want re


hen the Howie family first displayed their wares at a Hong Kong trade show, they were surprised their local farmers’ market leaflets and branding were exactly what foreign buyers were looking for. Fergus Howie, who runs the farm’s export business, says: “Real produce from real people is what the export market wants. I don’t think it matters where you are in the world. “Generally, people with disposable incomes near China don’t trust Chinese food products, so they look to Australia and other Western countries and increasingly the UK,” he explains. Wicks Manor, a family-run pig, arable and contracting business in Essex, has 250 sows and produces about 100-110 pigs a week, all butchered on-farm. The family also buys-in 100 pigs a week from other British farms. They first exported their pork products through Waitrose to the Middle East in 2011. But things

Fergus Howie runs Wicks Manor Farm’s export business.

grew rapidly and the family now exports its sausages, bacon and burgers to local retailers and distributors in Hong Kong, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Thailand, Malaysia and Brunei, and is working on Turkey, Vietnam and the Philippines.

Fergus’ tips: Selling abroad Get your product going in the UK first – learn how to negotiate with buyers Be patient – it can take six to 12 months after meeting a potential partner to start exporting Foreign buyers often respect face-to-face relationships, so be prepared to travel. Fergus visits

each customer once-a-year Ask UK Trade and Investment – the Government’s trade promotion body – for support ( It can help you find and build new markets Make use of the UK’s ‘Great Food’ campaign – it has created a lot of good will abroad

A quarter of Wicks Manor pork is exported, with the rest going into UK retail and the food service sector. The family now employs 45 people to keep up with everything.

Starting out

After first exporting with Waitrose, Fergus and his family realised ex-pats offered an opportunity. “Ex-pats want to buy premium and British and are happy to pay up for a product with a story board,” says Fergus. The family looked for a British ex-pat community with disposable income and took a trade stand at a fair in Hong Kong. “It was a bit like going fishing,” says Fergus. “You dropped your

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Case study


East to export their pork products to, helping to grow their business.

al produce from real people ‘People want traceability’ GAVIN Cheung, head of business development, Golden Pig, says: “There is opportunity for good quality British meat in Hong Kong in regards to animal welfare, sustainability and traceability. “Currently in the Hong Kong market, people are becoming

more aware and want to know which farm their food comes from, what is special about this farm and its history. “Part of our philosophy is to work with farmers and producers who we can build long-term relationships with.”

hook and waited to see what you got.” They met Gavin and Carmen Cheung, of Golden Pig, a company which buys premium pigmeat for high-end hotels and clubs. The Howies have now been supplying the company since 2013 and Hong Kong has become one of their biggest export markets.

Hard work and logistics

Exporting has been a big learning curve, with everything learnt on the job, says Fergus. “Everything sounds great, but it’s a lot of hard work,” he says. Things can go wrong too, such as products getting caught at sea if countries suddenly change their entry rules.

A quarter of Wicks Manor pork is exported.

Factoring in all the additional costs is also critical. “There’s nothing worse than sending something half-way around the world only to realise it was for nothing,” says Fergus. Exporting has been important for the farm though.

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“It’s helped us grow the business,” says Fergus. “The UK market is very competitive, so exports have added security because we have a larger customer base and it allows us to spread the work out and plan ahead more.”


World tastes


Quality top priority, then price Competitive price important as there is lots of competition on shelves No strong associations with British food – those which do tend to be negative Leanness of meat important for health choices, but quality and price generally more important

Looking abro What do cons u elsewhere w


he domestic market for home-grown food is strong in the UK, but there are high-value markets in other countries too, which farmers here are well placed to tap into. Exports are important as they can add value to what farmers produce and help manage fluctuations in market demand and price. UK farming has a good base to build on, too. When AHDB ran research with consumers in nine countries, it found people associated British food with quality, safety, tradition, heritage and farming.



Quality is the main priority, followed by price Organic not a big deal for dairy Interest in fresh potatoes starting; until now focus has been on processed. UK expertise in this area has big potential

Lots of price-competitive products on shelves Associate imported food with high prices and lack of freshness More than half do not associate GB food with anything. Only 25 per cent have bought GB food

However, there is a long way to go. Half of those questioned did not associate UK food with anything and in some countries many people had negative perceptions. Understanding what consumers want and how their choices are influenced will be critical to making a success of these markets. We looked more closely at AHDB’s research to find out more.

More information

THIS research was published in AHDB’s Horizon report on international consumer

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World tastes


ad: umers want? Germany


Quality most important, followed by price Taste top priority for dairy Appearance, taste and origin important for fruit and veg Quality (origin) main priority for meat More natural/less processed products important for health purchases Most do not associate British food with anything, but when they do it is the most negative of any country listed here

behaviour using research conducted in August and November 2017, covering about

Quality top priority Taste is most important determinant of a quality dairy product One in five respondents say animal welfare is important for meat – more than any other country listed. Quality (appearance) most important for meat purchases Appearance, taste and origin are top determinants for judging value when buying fruit and veg

United Arab Emirates Quality and health top priorities Half have no association with GB food, but a quarter have positive perception

Saudi Arabia

500 people in each market. To find out more, visit ahdb.

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Quality and what their family likes, are most important Quality most important factor when buying meat, based on safety and origin UK just secured agreement to export sheepmeat Half of respondents said they had no association with GB food, but a quarter have a positive perception


World tastes


Primary concern is food safety, due to several food scares. Messaging to provide assurances is critical. Health and quality are key buying drivers too Middle class often sees imported food from West as higher quality/ safer

Like different meat cuts. Offal, parts such as trotters, and cuts which are high in fat and with bones left in command a premium Dairy is a relatively new, but rapidly expanding market, particularly yoghurt. Category attracting premium products and

organic/assurance schemes appeal. Consumers still unfamiliar with cheese Market for potatoes growing Generally positive perception of GB food – 61 per cent say would pay a premium



Quality, then health, top priorities. Food safety also an aboveaverage concern Higher price often associated with higher safety Quality is a top priority when buying meat and dairy. Health is the main determinant of quality, followed by food safety. Origin also important Most positive perception of GB food of countries listed, with 65% willing to pay a premium

Food safety top priority, with many respondents concerned by the impact of the Fukushima nuclear incident. So messaging to provide assurances is critical Freshness is a key determinant of safety for meat, though this could be an issue for Great Britain, given the logistics For 99% of respondents, animal welfare was not a priority for meat Fatty cuts associated with flavour command a higher price. Lean meat seen as dry/lacking flavour Knowing origin is key determinant when assessing health benefits of meat

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