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The Future of Food

Hello from the Crafty Gang

Since we last sent out our newsletter, we have been doing some thinking around the Future of Food & Drink. The Pandemic has fundamentally changed our eating behaviours: how we now buy our food, find out about food, share our food and even what we eat (At Craft we are living off of Donuts & Gin)

Below is a taster to some of the research we have undertaken.

We are turning this thinking into 30 min Lunch & Learn Sessions and offering these out to all our friends of Craft - if you would like one please do get in touch and we can book you in.

Hope to see you all again really soon.

In the meantime enjoy this morsel of our thinking.

“The ‘new normal’ that we all spoke about back in the spring isn’t new anymore. It’s just normal. Call it a pivot, a new dawn, or a fresh start, but one thing is clear: things will never be the same again” James Bailey, Waitrose Executive Director December 2020

To put it bluntly, the Pandemic has changed how the world eats. 33% of us say that mealtimes have become more of an occasion (Tesco April 2020). Sitting down to eat together has taken on an increasingly significant role in our lives, with more of us working from home – meals have become the focal point around which all our days revolve. This means that the average household is now spending almost 7 hours a week cooking meals – this is up a whole hour on the previous year (Tesco April 2020). And when we spoke to consumers, they told us that, increasingly, cooking is becoming the barrier between work and home – acting almost as a commute to decompress and switch modes & mood!

Waitrose research has shown that a quarter of us bought food online for the first time this year. The highest uptake was with the under 35’s. This is a trend which looks likely to stick; Sainsburys have doubled delivery capacity and it shows no signs of falling away. This increasing focus on food has led to an inevitable increase in our shopping bills +7.3 yoy (FT Oct 13 2020 BRC/KPMG) rising to +15% yoy for supermarket spends and 26% for takeaways. It seems that in times of strife and worry, we are turning to comfort foods as our mainstay meal. 69% of people are now batch cooking family favourites, and the long forgotten frozen isle saw a resurgence of interest – with John Lewis even reporting that sales of freezers themselves were 3 x the normal rate back in March 2020.

But it hasn’t been only the old-fashioned family favourites that we have turned to. We are seeing increasing levels of interest in ‘premium comfort foods’. People don’t have that many more avenues to spend, so they do have some money and they are feeding themselves’s a relatable feeling to treat yourself to little luxuries during a stressful time. Everybody wants an indulgence. IRI research, CNBC NOV 2020 This means that in recent weeks, consumers have gravitated towards higher-ended coffees, cheeses and cakes. With Coffee Bean Suppliers reporting sales up 44% and coffee machines sales flying too – up 64% yoy (WSJ Oct 2020) There have also been some surprising brands benefiting from the increasing spends - Pot Noodle Sales are up +610% as are more exotic ingredients, with Chinese rice vinegar sales increasing by 194%. These purchases show that lockdown has stimulated our ambitions in the kitchen with over 50% admitting that we have tried out new recipes & cooking techniques since the pandemic started. And when your cooking ambitions don’t match the dizzying heights of Gordon Ramsey, it seems we all drown our sorrows in a Quarantini! – Sales of spirits are up 78% and tequila sales alone have almost doubled (Telegraph May 2020).

Of course, a world of social distance has only served to super-charge the already growing importance of on-demand in the foodie’s world.. The UKs fastest growing brands are all in the food delivery business – Ocado, Just Eat & Deliveroo (Kantar / WPP Most Valuable brands report Sept 2020). Deliveroo have reported that it is looking to double the number of riders it employs after 10,000 new restaurants signed up with the service since the start of the pandemic, and Just Eat Takeaway reported sales up 43% in the third quarter to same period in 2019. The use of delivery services is now so prevalent that it is now normal to see the delivery icons available on food brands' advertising.

This trend has also spawned new innovations direct to consumer: Niche boutique grocery stores deliver your chefy-ingredients for your home restaurant and meal kits from every restaurant in town have become increasingly popular too (with Hawksmoor selling out of their Valentines box within 48 hours). Hello Fresh & Mindful Chef are reporting phenomenal growth through convenience in a box. Subscription services have sprung up from Pret coffee through to cheese delivered direct to your door monthly. Farmers, growers and fishers are turning themselves into brands and selling direct to the consumer.

Nothing is the same as it was before but the opportunity for new food brands has never been greater.

At Craft we are a full communications agency designed to discuss how these fundamental shifts in culture and consumer behaviour should impact your approach to communication. We have spent the last quarter identifying the key trends being driven from these ‘unprecedented times’ to create a framework for discussion with clients.

We understand how media channels are bringing to light new food trends and how this changes across different channels, we have looked at the impact of food and communities – niche and global, and how brands can gain traction to drive growth.

We understand the importance of values when communicating food brands - from provenance through to welfare, health & environmental, and have happily taken the lessons offered by fast food brands on how to do ‘brand’ in a performance driven landscape.

If you would be interested in Craft presenting the Future of Food as a lunch and learn for your organisation, please do get in touch – we would love to share our thinking and debate the findings over a sandwich / Pot Noodle (or Qarantini?!)

Jen Smith & Sally Weavers – Craft Media London

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