One of the top trends covered in Friesland Campina’s 2022 trends report focused on consumers’ growing awareness of healthier foods, balanced with their need for indulgence.
“People have become a bit more aware of the food that they eat,” said Van den Eshof. “I think it’s a good thing that people scrutinize the labels – you are in the end what you eat.
“But while health in important, people want to indulge themselves – sometimes you have the need to let go and go completely indulgent. You see that, for example, in cheese or products like loaded fries.”
For Van den Eshof, the future could easily go either way. As she explained, while consumers will generally become more conscious about the cost of food and will save money by eating at home, they’ll always find the money if they really want an indulgent treat.
With lockdown drastically reshaping the way consumers look at food and how they eat it, one of the emerging trends was consumers becoming more adventures in their tastes and what they were willing to try.
“We asked consumers how important experiences are for them and 75% said it was very important for them – we really like to be surprised,” Van den Eshof explained. “Another 10% said being surprised was moderately important.
“There’s a huge potential for manufacturers to tap into that. It’s a trend for unexpected and unusual combinations of tastes and textures – and example is the ‘Cruffle’, a mash-up between a waffle and a croissant.”
Another key trend that manufacturers can really capitalise on now that lockdowns and COVID-19 restrictions begin to ease is sharing with friends and family – occasions that have been hard to achieve in the past 22 months.
“It’s nourishment for the soul,” Van den Eshof added. “Recognising that these are rituals – sharing bread, baking pastries for each other – we’ve done for thousands of years.
“There’s also a stronger social conscience – where is this food coming from? Having a story about it and that can differ from consumer what is important to them, but we see locally grown or home grown is really picking up.”
Meanwhile, Brexit, supply chain issues, the pandemic, sustainability and consumer concerns about health and wellness look set to steer many food industry trends in 2022.