Undoubtedly Brexit, Britain’s exit from the European Union (EU), is the biggest news and most significant factor confronting the UK food sector in 2017. The country depends on EU trade agreements and local markets for around 97 percent of its food and drink export trade.
The pre-Brexit trend towards quality and nutrition will endure, with consumers continuing to seek out more artisan and healthier food options. Shoppers will increasingly look to companies and brands to be sustainable, transparent and socially aware. This will continue to influence how companies do business.
A focus on fresh produce now has customers paying more attention to place of origin and favouring those goods with clearly stated origin labelling. This trend will encourage greater investment in food manufacturing software to enable companies’ greater ability to track and trace produce to its source.
Free from and local
Sugar-free, fat-free, gluten-free, no additives! Food and beverage packaging is prolific with ‘free from’ pronouncements. Stemming from the desire for consumers to want healthier, more natural foods, devoid of those perceived weight inducing, allergenic ingredients.
Artisan and craft brands, will continue to see these products leading their market categories, particularly in the beer and bakery ranges. Largely due to the association that these products have for using natural, quality and where possible, locally sourced ingredients.
Driven from the consumer demand for no additives, artificial ingredients or synthetic chemicals, clean labels are ‘real food’ products containing only natural and familiar ingredients. Clean labels list simple ingredients that are easy to recognise and understand.
This doesn’t just apply to those long unpronounceable additives, there are also other, more familiar sounding ingredients that won’t appear in clean label products, such as sulphite and sorbic acid.
Sulphite is a synthetic food enhancer and food preservative that reduces spoilage by inhibiting bacterial growth. Sorbic acid is a chemical preservative commonly used in the production of cosmetics and used to inhibit mould in cheeses and bakery goods.
Consumers are increasingly demanding clean, clear labelling and full disclosure transparency. They are progressively less forgiving of companies that use misleading information.
The expectation for businesses to engage in good corporate social responsibility is largely driven by the millennial and younger generations. These socially conscious consumers like companies to demonstrate sustainable food supply-chains and fair-trade practices.
They are more aware of the origin of, and ingredients in food. Complete food traceability will identify the exact origin of a raw ingredients, with food manufacturing software and technology having a key role in streamlining these farm-to-fork initiatives.
Sustainable, competitive advantage lies with those companies that respond faster to rapidly changing consumer demand. Current trends will persist over time, so integrating aspects of supply chain transparency and clean labelling into your business operations can certainly provide long-term benefits. Consumers are likely to support suppliers who provide the most detail.
Food manufacturing software enables producers, wholesalers and retailers to provide this detail by tracking products throughout the supply chain.