Food industry trends – buying closer to home

Market vegetable stall copyright 2021 www,thesaferfoodgroup.com

According to 2021 research, British consumers are increasingly looking for British produce; great news for the environment and the economy.

Unsurprisingly, following food shortages in 2020 and 2021, savvy British consumers have been considering alternatives to their supermarket shop.

As well as supply chain issues, consumers have been driven to local producers by concerns about quality, citing a deeper trust in British farmed goods than in imported foods. High profile news stories regarding imported meat containing high levels of antibiotics and chlorine have forced consumers to think more carefully about food quality and production and processing methods.

And environmental concerns have also led shoppers to think about buying local – farms shops and markets have proved a great way to buy direct from producers, as well as providing genuinely seasonal foods.

Record breaking consumer numbers buy British food

This article published by Speciality Food Magazine cites OnePoll research that claims, ‘73% of the public often or always looking specifically for British food when shopping’.

It also revealed a strong level of support for British farming and its quality standards, with the vast majority of respondents wanting trade deals to protect British farmers from being undercut and welfare standards of imported meat to match that of domestically produced food.

The unprecedented challenges caused by the pandemic highlighted the need for more secure supply chains – and local businesses responded to support their communities. Producers found creative ways to get their food directly to consumers, through farm shops, co-operatives and box schemes. The benefits of open air markets became clear as a safer shopping environment.

Rising success of the small food business

The economic situation continues to be tough for some food businesses, especially those without a corporate safety net to keep the cash flow going. However, the pandemic has demonstrated how agile and adaptable small businesses have been and continue to be as the rules and landscape shift on a monthly business

Some great examples of small business agility have been:

  • Food retailers taking their sales out into their community, using church halls, delivery services, or even repurposed ice cream vans to get supplies to vulnerable people
  • Businesses recognising and solving community problems – including the micro brewery who provided a reciprocal collection service for food bank items donated by customers of their delivery service. Community engagement has been a strong theme for a lot of food businesses, giving them the opportunity to really get to know and build relationships with their customers, and there is no doubt a number of these initiatives will continue and thrive once the threat of the pandemic has lessened.
  • Artisan producers joining forces to create ‘lockdown luxury’ boxes – sharing storage, packing and delivery resources to reduce cost and environmental impact and increase customer base

Small businesses can suffer from higher proportional overheads, without the economies of scale enjoyed by larger companies. However, they often have the benefit of entrepreneurial spirit, an adaptable and loyal staff body and the agility to change direction quickly and make change happen. In adverse times, these skills will continue to be invaluable and as circumstances develop, the rise of small businesses is very welcome .

Useful links

Food safety training from The Safer Food Group

Produce and Provide – network of local farms and producers across the UK accessible to consumers

National Market Traders Federation – supporting market traders

Love your local market campaign hosted by NABMA

Calorie menu labelling

What does your food business need to do to meet April 2022 calorie labelling regulations?

Calorie labelling regulations logo

The government has announced that calories will be labelled on menus and food labels in certain ‘out-of-home food businesses’ from April 2022. Out of home refers to business that prepare food for immediate consumption by its customers, such as cafes, restaurants, pubs and take-aways.

What businesses does this affect?

The new legislation means that large businesses with 250 or more employees in England, including cafes, restaurants and takeaways, will need to display the calorie information of non-prepacked food and soft drink items that are prepared for customers. In some circumstances, franchisees are deemed to be a part of their franchisor’s business and therefore employee numbers are calculated across the whole business.

When does it come into force?

The legislation comes into force from 6th April 2022, for the businesses outlined above

How must calorie information be displayed?

Calorie information will need to be displayed at the point of choice for the customer, such as physical menus, online menus, food delivery platforms and food labels

Businesses are also required to display the statement ‘adults need around 2000 kcal a day’ on their menus where food is chosen from a menu, or otherwise on a label where it can be seen by customers when making their food choices. Children’s menus are exempt from displaying the statement referencing daily calorie needs as the calorie requirements of a child are less than that of an adult

Why is this legislation being brought in?

The measures, which form part of the government’s wider strategy to tackle obesity, will help to ensure people are able to make more informed, healthier choices when it comes to eating food out or ordering takeaways

When must smaller businesses comply with the new calorie labelling legislation?

At the present time, no plans to introduce this legislation into smaller food businesses have been announced

What are the penalties for non compliance?

This has yet to be announced

Are there any exemptions?

Specific exemptions applying to food include:

  • • Temporary menu items on sale for less than 30 consecutive days and a total of 30 days in any year.
  • • Food which is ‘off menu’ and made available or prepared differently to the way it is normally prepared, at the request of the customer.
  • • Alcoholic drinks over 1.2% alcohol by volume.
  • • Condiments which are provided to be added by the consumer (not including condiments which are part of the food served).

The Regulations also specify exemptions for food which is served:

  • • On an international aircraft, train or ferry to or from a country that is not part of the UK.
  • • By a charity in the course of its charitable activities.
  • • At an institution providing education to children under 18 years.
  • • To patients (not for payment) at a hospital or other medical establishment or to residents of a care home or other social care institution.

Anything else we need to know?

At the moment, guidance is still being written. As updates are available, The Safer Food Group will update and add to this post. Our training courses are regularly updated to capture the latest relevant food safety regulations – check out www.thesaferfoodgroup.com for more info. If you would like to learn more about calories and menu planning, have a look at our Level 2 Nutrition course.

Future trends in the food industry

It is no exaggeration to say that the last 6 months have been the most unusual we have experienced. Underlined with uncertainty and fear that has invaded our home and professional lives, we have all done our best to adapt to the new circumstances and work towards a future we were not expecting.

Some sectors of the food industry have had an incredibly tough time – for instance the number of vacancies in catering advertised in July was down 61% compared to 2019, reflecting the fall out from closed venues, reduced capacity and cancelled events. Some sectors however, have managed to thrive – adaptable players in food manufacture have been responsive in light of supply issues during the early stages of lockdown, choosing new products, production methods or packaging to meet the needs of a rapidly changing market.

So, how can we be more prepared for the next 12 months in the food industry? We look at three key predicted trends, and consider their potential impact.

Reversing the obesity crisis

We have already seen the early signs of an upcoming government initiative to change the course of the obesity crisis. Research published by Diabetes UK has demonstrated the link between lockdown and increased rates of obesity in children, and an evidence review by Public Health England strongly suggest that outcomes of Covid-19 are worsened in obese adults.

It remains to be seen what role the food industry will play in battling the obesity crisis, but now is a great time for businesses to plan for the future and consider ways they can demonstrate their commitment to the health and well being of their customers. These may include:

  • reformulating products to lower fat, sugar and salt levels
  • increasing plant based ranges
  • training staff in good nutrition to enable good menu planning
  • publishing nutritional values on menus and / or websites to encourage healthy choices
  • creating healthy eating promotions and recipes

Strengthening the Supply chain

Initial stages of lockdown exposed some weaknesses in the food supply chain – however, manufacturers and food retailers worked tirelessly and effectively to get products back into stores and homes. Despite this being an unprecedented situation, that early period forced food businesses to reassess the suitability of supply processes.

A number of trends have begun to emerge from this work, and we will continue to see changes throughout the next 12 months, emphasised by the potential supply issues caused by Brexit. The trends have included:

  • a greater emphasis on local, seasonal produce – with the additional benefit of decreased environmental impact
  • a more considered and collaborative use of resources in food production – for instance sharing plant facilities or warehousing space, or multi purposing production lines
  • increased scrutiny on safe production processes, including good health and well being of industry workers in light of covid spikes centred around production facilities.

Now more than ever, good practice at all stages within the food chain will place business in the best position to take advantage of new market opportunities, maximising their potential to survive and grow.

Rising success of the small food business

The economic situation is undoubtedly tough for all food businesses, especially those without a corporate safety net to keep the cash flow going. However, lockdown has demonstrated how agile and adaptable small businesses have been and continue to be as the rules and landscape shift on a weekly business

Some great examples of small business agility have been:

  • Pubs and restaurants adjusting their eat in offering to takeaways or meal box options
  • Food retailers taking their sales out into their community, using church halls, delivery services, or even repurposed ice cream vans to get supplies to vulnerable people
  • Businesses recognising and solving community problems – including the micro brewery who provided a reciprocal collection service for food bank items donated by customers of their delivery service. Community engagement has been a strong theme for a lot of food businesses, giving them the opportunity to really get to know and build relationships with their customers, and there is no doubt a number of these initiatives will continue and thrive once the threat of the pandemic has lessened.
  • Artisan producers joining forces to create ‘lockdown luxury’ boxes – sharing storage, packing and delivery resources to reduce cost and environmental impact and increase customer base

Small businesses can suffer from higher proportional overheads, without the economies of scale enjoyed by larger companies. However, they often have the benefit of entrepreneurial spirit, an adaptable and loyal staff body and the agility to change direction quickly and make change happen. In these adverse times, these skills will continue to be invaluable and as circumstances develop, the rise of small businesses is very welcome .