I was shocked just how many new products applied for the New Produce Awards and Dragon’s Den at Bread & Jam, there were literally hundreds. The sad thing is that many of these won’t be around in 12 months time. As there simply just isn’t the space for all of them. One area that I am not sure anyone saw coming is vegan, previously limited to a lettuce leaf and a glass of water, now a vegan has an incredible array of choices and you don’t need to be vegan to appreciate them.
The UK seems to be producing more entrepreneurs than ever before. In my day, getting a job with a big company like a bank for life was a dream come true, now it seems the dream is to have your own business, and food and drink seems to be top of the list. The biggest challenge is getting past just being a start-up. Just because an idea appeals to friends and family doesn’t make it a mainstream product, and unless you get past the stage of selling it to your local shops then its pretty well impossible to make a living. Most big brands don’t make any money for the first two years so unless you have the potential to be on the shelf on the high street then it may be best not to give up your day job. There is a huge difference between a hobby and a business and I have seen a LOT of products that, unfortunately, were never going to be anything other than just a niche idea.
“Drinks and healthy snacking seem to be the craze at present, and everything is designed to make eating healthier, easier and quicker.”
Drinks and healthy snacking seem to be the craze at present, and everything is designed to make eating healthier, easier and quicker. Phrases like ‘deskfast’ mean you spend less time eating and more time working, therefore, brands are cashing in on this. There is a vast selection available from either your local cafe or delivered directly to your office and consumers are busier than ever, many eating the most important meal of the day on the move. Buzzwords seem to be plant mylks and foods, nuts and seeds, protein vegetables and sugar-free or low calories. Some brands try to be everything to everyone resulting in something that doesn’t taste nice but ticks all the boxes; consumers buy for health, return for taste, remember that!
Moving onto drinks; not so long ago everyone saw Stevia as the saviour to sugar which is considered the devil, now consumers are starting to realise Stevia tastes horrible and despite all the masking products the taste still comes through. Therefore, it’s good to see drinks with some sweetness from fruit juice – but even then, in my opinion, drinks innovation recently has been quite dull. If there is no functionality to a drink then why not drink water?
Snacks; this area is turning into ‘white noise’. Between healthy snacking and protein it is just a blur of brands of all different shapes and sizes, all making obscure claims and to be honest not tasting that great. Both these areas will see a lot of condensing as too much choice is not a good thing – consumers would rather not buy at all than spend ages making a choice.
There are some interesting times ahead. Many brands are based in Europe so maybe Brexit will price them out of the market. However, whatever happens with the economy I feel certain new brands will keep popping up backed by innovative, energetic young entrepreneurs that would rather work seven days a week, 12 hours a day than be a wage slave.