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In this episode of ColumbusCast, our Food Consultants Laura Gilbank and Andrew Newton join special guest Rod Addy, Editor from the Food Manufacture. Rod has been working in food for over 21 years, analysing changes in the market caused by consumers and businesses.

Here, we’ll be discussing the top trends and everything you can expect going forward for the future of the industry.


1. The rise of plant-based diets

As a result of consumers becoming more conscious around their health and environmental impact, it’s found that an astonishing 14% of UK adults are following a meat-free diet. Additionally, we've experienced increased involvement around initiatives such as Veganuary, with a record-breaking 629,000 people signing up in 2022 alone.


However, just 2% of UK consumers ended up following a plant-based diet in 2021, highlighting that although there’s been a rise in popularity with plant-based diets, people still aren’t willing to fully commit to this trend. This could be due to the vegan products market stagnating, as Rod points out. Though there’s increased awareness around plant-based diets, there needs to be a push from businesses to incorporate fresh, exciting products to their current portfolios.


By diversifying and introducing vegan ranges now rather than later, you can get up to speed with its steady growth in popularity and better meet your customer requirements.

food trends


2. Heightened outlooks around food sustainability


On the theme of environmental awareness, consumers are driving towards food that’s sustainably sourced and produced. For instance, increased awareness around animal welfare has placed additional pressures on food businesses, especially those who supply animal products, to provide alternative foods like cultured meat within their production lines.


There’s also new global-based targets on sustainability, such as achieving net-zero carbon by 2050. These goals are aligned with the mindsets of today’s top food businesses, who want to reduce greenhouse gases and lessen their carbon footprint to boost their reputation from consumers. 


3. Increased awareness around food waste


Food businesses are also trying to reduce the amount of waste they produce along their production lines and in stores. Here are a few examples of recent food waste initiatives:

  • Tesco and their imperfectly perfect range, which serves the goal of tackling food waste by 2030
  • Morrisons have removed their use-by dates on their milk cartons, replacing them with best before
  • Lidl and their too good to waste range

With retailers offering 'wonky' items, it means these goods can have a second shelf life to reduce their carbon footprint and limit consumer waste. After all, it's not like nuts and bolts where they have to be the same size, and you too should be taking the opportunity to incorporate these, leading to profitable and sustainable benefits.

food trends

There’s also a huge drive to tackle single-use, plastic packaging waste amongst businesses. However, this creates a challenge with the waste we produce, as plastic packaging provides a longer shelf life for products such as meat and veg.

What steps can you take to reduce waste?

  • Measure where your food waste is coming from first - analyse your production line and see which areas are causing the most waste, from your food, packaging, to the equipment your team uses
  • Join initiatives and create partnerships with the wider community – from partnerships with food banks to using apps such as Too Good To Go for leftover food, there are several opportunities to reduce your environmental impact around waste
  • Implement better technology within your supply chain – eliminate waste with automation techniques, so you can identify where you’re overproducing and reduce production

4. The rise of technology within food supply chains

Instead of operating via pen and paper methods, food businesses are integrating technology within their supply chain to capture big data. Whether it’s through their back office and admin departments or manufacturing processes, more businesses are making digitising their processes a top priority to meet food trends now, and in the future.

food trends

Here’s how new technology can improve your supply chain:

  • Gain a birds-eye view of your processes – digitisation makes it clearer to understand where your production lines are underperforming. In which case, you can identify these issues with ease and use technology such as automation to maintain efficiency and productivity, at all times
  • Helps you improve your supply and demand forecasting – do you have food that rises in demand depending on seasonality? With the right technology, you can better predict customer demand and increase/decrease supply when needed, resulting in better waste management and control
  • Systems are becoming easier to use – with the rise of technology, systems are becoming increasingly user friendly and intuitive, making the switch from pen and paper towards digitisation a lot less intimidating and more achievable

Listen to our podcast to find out more

Want to find out more about the trends in the food industry? Listen to the episode by scrolling to the top of this blog post or by searching ‘ColumbusCast’ in your podcast app, offering more detail on:

  • Why you should incorporate new lines of plant-based ranges within your product portfolio
  • The issues surrounding food waste
  • The advice a partner can provide on adapting to change, whether this is in the wider environment or internally

Finished our podcast episode? Learn more about what the future holds in the food industry by downloading our guide below.

The future of the professional services industry


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