By Paul Hargreaves, Founder & Chief Executive of Cotswold Fayre Ltd
It is at this time of year that our thoughts tend to be focussed on the New Year. The Christmas rush is nearly over and we can reflect on what we have learnt over the past year and what trends we can incorporate into our decisions for 2016. In our case as you read this our Jan 2016 catalogue will be at the printers ready to be delivered to our customers in early January, so we have had to make these decisions much earlier than those at the consumer end. So trying to be ahead of the game comes with the territory for a wholesaler.
So what have I noticed over the last year and what is in store for 2016? Crystal ball at the ready! In terms of general trends there seems to be a curious mix of indulgence and healthy eating. In summary many people are making an effort to eat and drink more healthily, but at the same time like a “little bit of what they fancy”! Specifically I expect:
- Low sugar products I predict probably won’t carry a tax in the near future as this would be too difficult for the government to implement, but no doubt consumers will be choosing lower sugar drinks at the restaurants and cafes of the UK in 2016.
- Smaller portions of higher quality food are on trend at present whilst eating out and at home. So Wagyu beef, and expensive fish are expected to grow in sales over the next year.
- The same with desserts. Consumers still want that sweetness at the end of a meal, but maybe just a couple of spoons of rich chocolate mousse rather than large wedges of chocolate cake.
- Campaigns such as “Dry January” are becoming more widely taken up by consumers, so expect sales of alcohol in the early part of the year to be even lower than normal.
Some of these trends are driven by the “Millennials” or “Generation Y” and as they will gradually have more influence as they become older and more prevalent over future trends they are worth looking at a little more closely.
- Generally they are thrill-seekers, and love unusual textures and intense flavours. I expect to see 3D printing of food increase over the next year.
- Gone are three meals a day. Snacking is in, with strange in-between meals such as “brinner” and “slunch” being invented. Grazing, rather than sitting down to three square meals a day will happen more and more.
- The good news for the speciality food sector is that it is now trendy to be a foodie, and not just a foodie but a responsible foodie. Provenance becomes even more important as is the environmental impact of the producers.
- Millennials love cooking and compilation-type meals. We have noticed meal kits and items like cheese-making and sausage-making kits very popular this Christmas.
- They also like communal tables in restaurants and even go grocery shopping in groups (very strange to me that last one)
There is much more to say, but if you are an old fart like me, listen to your children, and more important listen to your customers. January is an excellent time to survey your customers.
Meanwhile have a great remaining trading period between now and Christmas, and enjoy your time off (if you get any) over the festive break.
Visit Cotswold Fayre website for more information