How brands can translate food trends into big business

Posted on 20/05/2016 · Posted in Blog

This month The Observer Food Monthly Magazine published an analysis of the key trends that have defined the food and drink industry over the past 15 years.

There was a large number of fruits, seeds and vegetables that were key trends within the food and drink industry, with the ‘superfood’ halo being a key driving force. 2013 saw kale become the ‘must have’ healthy ingredient due to the low calorie and high fibre content. The vegetable received endorsement from health conscious celebrities and wellness bloggers including Ella Woodward and sales grew by 40% when compared to 2012.

Kale paved the way for a number of other trend setting healthy ingredients such as coconut oil, almond milk, quinoa and the avocado. The avocado remains a popular everyday ingredient across households and restaurants and a record £128 million was spent on avocados between March 2015 and March 2016 making them more popular than oranges.

Tapping into trends can be hugely lucrative for businesses. If a product captures the zeitgeist, then it becomes a compelling proposition for consumers and sales will rocket.

Established food and drink companies must be nimble enough to capitalise on these developments. Range extensions or Limited Editions featuring trending ingredients can be launched or, for those willing to invest, whole new brands around emerging trends can be created.

Although it requires capital, the rewards are obvious. If a brand can ‘own’ the trend, then it will become synonymous with it, eventually dominating the category as it matures – Vita Coco has done this well with coconut water. Furthermore, as consumers continue to place a premium on innovation, using trends to show that your brand is cutting edge can be a positive result in itself.

But businesses shouldn’t just wait for trends to emerge. Public Relations can be deployed to turn a product, concept or brand into an exciting new food and drink trend. Palm PR launched Bubbleology Bubble Tea  to the UK and a key part of the strategy was establishing the product as a leading food trend so that it would rival the industry’s biggest players, like Starbucks.

The current hot topic in the food and drink industry for 2016 is of course the sugar tax, which is due to be implemented in April 2018. Both Bubbleology and The Observer Food Monthly’s feature shows that trends can translate into big business for the brands that can capitalise on them, presenting a big opportunity for those who can develop low sugar alternatives to household favourites.