‘Health, Vegan And Sustainability’: Food-To-Go Operators Name Their Key Trends To Watch.

lunch! speakers – including big names from Greggs, Caffè Nero, Sodexo & McColl’s, share their trend predictions for the year ahead

For over 12 years, lunch! has been the destination show for the café, coffee shop and food-to-go sector. It’s the only UK event that annually attracts so many leading innovators, influencers, trailblazers and decision makers together in one place (ExCeL London) at one time (19-20 September).

They come in their thousands (around 7,000 are expected) to see the product innovations of today and tomorrow and hear expert insights on what’s new and next in food-to-go. With the fast-growing FTG market set to reach £23.4bn by 2024 (up 26.4% according to IGD[1]), there are significant opportunities ahead for operators and retailers who can stay innovative and get their offering right. Keeping up (or ideally ahead) of the latest trends is vital. As is attending this year’s ‘biggest ever’ lunch! show.

“lunch! is vital if you take food-to-go seriously in your business. Every year I am here without fail. This year’s innovative new product could be tomorrow’s best seller. Food-to-go moves too quickly to miss this event,” says Matt Cundrick, head of convenience format & FTG at McColl’s Retail Group. (A recently confirmed opening day speaker, he’ll be talking about using POS data and customer insights to drive growth.)

Martyn Clover, head of food at Tortilla – another lunch! show speaker (and regular visitor), also regards lunch! as a ‘must’.

“Innovation is key to so many things,” he says, “from avoiding menu fatigue to ensuring the guys in store are engaged and excited about the new products we are working on. Innovation keeps us all on our toes and stops anyone trying to rest on their laurels.”

Which key trends/developments do they think will be shaping food-to-go in the year(s) to come? That’s exactly what lunch! organiser Diversified Communications UK asked them both. They also posed the question (via the show’s popular Q&A series[2]) to other show speakers. Among them bosses and senior execs from Greggs, Caffè Nero, Sodexo, LEON, Crussh, K10 Restaurants, Wayne’s Coffee, and Sourced Market, plus analysts from MCA Insights and IGD.

While their responses were varied, healthier menu options, more vegan/plant-based NPD, and the importance of being more sustainable (across all aspects of operations) were certainly the most frequently cited ‘key trends to watch’.

For example, Hannah McKay, head of food & beverages UK & Ireland at Caffè Nero, named ‘health, vegan and sustainability’ as key trends in her Q&A. Maurice Abboudi, executive director at Japanese restaurant and takeaway chain K10, said ‘healthy eating and sustainability’. Adnan Karim, UK managing director of Wayne’s Coffee, said ‘delivery to consumers and catering for vegetarian/vegan diets’. And, for Crussh’s brand director Helen Harrison it was ‘sustainably packaged food, more functional foods like gut-friendly and protein-based products, and CBD’.

Hot food-to-go, delivery, food tech, new locations and partnerships are just some of the other key drivers identified below:

Martyn Clover, head of food at Tortilla: I think vegan/plant-based is still where things are at, but more from a flexitarian perspective of people looking to take days off meat or just generally reduce their meat consumption.

Matt Cundrick, head of convenience format & FTG at McColl’s Retail Group: In convenience, the customer is picking up key high street trends around customisation, a focus on fresh, and split day parts. Breakfast is a massive growth area and will continue for some while yet. The one to watch is innovation in hot food-to-go. Lots of great new suppliers breaking into the market, with high quality fresh products. It’s very exciting times!

Hannah Squirrell, customer director at Greggs: Healthier choices and being able to balance the Government/PHE targets, without compromising on great taste, quality and value. Changing dietary needs is also key and the growing trends around vegan/flexitarian/food intolerance etc. Strong offerings will evolve their digital proposition and launch new ways for customers to engage with them.

Nicola Morris, MD – Corporate Services at Sodexo: I think the wider environmental and sustainable concerns of customers are going to drive purchases towards brands that can demonstrate a real commitment towards a value-based offer. It might be in product and supply chain (where is it sourced, who grew it/produced it, what impact was there on the environment, did they get paid fairly) or linked to wider sustainability and ethical concerns (what packaging, what energy source, were the people that served me fairly paid and treated?).

James Kidman, head of food at Crussh – Fit Food & Juice Bars: On the go snacking, especially with a protein hit, is what a lot of our customers are looking for. Smaller sizes, and on-the-go formats, are also growing as customers grab and go throughout the day. There’s been a lot of innovation in vegan (apparently 1 in 4 new products are vegan these days), but still a very tiny percentage of the population classify as vegan.

Scott Macdonald, MD of Sourced Market: I think it’s fairly split down the middle – healthy choice will continue to grow market share, but indulgence/treats will also continue to grow.

Fátima Diez, formerly of Five Guys now brand manager at Picnic: the sociable media company: I would definitely keep an eye on the growing influence of food tech in the industry and of course, on consumers’ views on it. Also, eating habits and dietary requirements are experiencing an interesting evolution not being only linked to health anymore, but to wider causes like social responsibility.

Shereen Ritchie, operations director at LEON: The food industry has had a tumultuous 12 months. We’ve seen a lot of closures, takeovers and acquisitions. I think we’ll see a lot of food-to-go peers focusing on differentiation and their ‘USP’. Alongside this, we hope to see the continued rise in plant-based options and operators raising the game with their vegan ranges.

Katherine Prowse, insights manager at MCA Insights: I think there will be further tech-led innovation to emphasise brand’s convenience credentials. We have already seen Costa’s pre-ordering trial succeed and be rolled out, and I think we will see more of this and in newer ways. Another key trend will continue to be healthier and more sustainable food and drink products, brands that can communicate their sustainability credentials seamlessly, and be seen to be innovating in this area will be well placed to grow.

In the next 3-5 years, I expect coffee shops to carry on with the challenge of fully establishing themselves as key food-to-go players. We are already seeing improved and expanded food offers at the leading brands and I expect coffee shops to develop this further and to engage in trends around hot food, bowl food and healthier plant-based meal solutions. A focus on the breakfast day-part will help operators tap into a growing area of the market.

Gavin Rothwell, head of food-to-go and senior retail insights manager at IGD: Plant-based, health, and sustainability [are] significant areas of focus now and going forward. But there’s so much going on beyond this. For example, we’re seeing a lot of activity around different locations. We’d expect this flexibility in locations will continue to grow – there are some great expansion opportunities out there where there’s a ready-made group of hungry and thirsty customers, whether it be in workplaces, travel locations or in a wide range of retail and leisure outlets. And linked to this, expect more new and different partnerships to emerge.

The bar continues to rise in food-to-go, so growth is perhaps harder fought for now than previously. All of this creates an intriguing trading environment in food-to-go right now and a fascinating future.

lunch! Speaker Q&As
lunch!’s full Q&A series (featuring all of the aforementioned speakers and more) is available here: www.lunchshow.co.uk/speaker-qas.

Innovations from 400 exhibitors
lunch!’s 400 exhibitors will be offering all the latest innovations, including newly-launched vegan products, hot snacks, healthier and more sustainable food and drink. Plus, of course, plenty of indulgent ‘treats’.

For the latest plant-based innovations check out Around Noon, Bells & Whistles, Bol Foods, Clam’s Handmade Cakes, Creative Nature, Dormen Food – Scrubbys, Eaten Alive, Follow Your Heart UK, Good Root Bakery, Gut Instinct, Huel, Huug, Ima Vegan Sushi, Land & Tide, Lazy Vegan, Loveseitan, Mindful Bites, Norseland, Ombar Chocolate, Perkier Foods, Pollen + Grace, Raw Bake Station, The Coconut Collaborative, The Gutsy Captain Company, The Jackfruit Company and The Tofurky Company , among many others. Over 185 exhibiting companies have indicated they stock vegan products (see the online exhibitor list for more details at www.lunchshow.co.uk/visiting/2019-exhibitor-list).

The ‘healthy snack’ category is well-represented – think Barebells, Beast, Born Tasty, Brain Füd, ChewyMoon, Dash Water, Deliciously Ella, Fruit Bowl, Hey You Energy Cubes, Infinity Foods, Karma Bites, Mister Free’d, nüber food, Organix, Peakz and more.

Plastic free options are also on the rise, for example: CanO Water, Drinks Cubed, Evolution Foods, Flower & White, Goldenballs Goodness, Push Chocolate, RJF Farhi, Satisfied Snacks, and Wholegood (its pre-packed fresh produce for retail is packed in home compostable net).

While tasty hot food-to-go can be sourced from Atria Concept UK, Baked to taste, Chunk of Devon, Food Attraction, Kepak, Mr Lee’s Noodles, PieWICH, RE:NOURISH, Tanpopo Japanese Food, The Soho Sandwich Company, and more.

To see a preview of new product launches at the show, visit: www.lunchshow.co.uk/launching-at-lunch-uks-biggest-food-to-go-showcase-previews-new-product-launches.

Free trade registration

To register free in advance, please visit www.lunchshow.co.uk and quote priority code LU22 (direct link: https://eventdata.uk/Forms/Default.aspx?FormRef=Lun99Visitor&PageNo=20&TrackingCode=LU22).

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