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Agribusiness News August 2022 – Sector Focus: Food and Foraging

3 August 2022

Why Foraging? Why not? Including wild and / or sustainably foraged foods in your farm shop / café or as part of an experience-based diversified rural enterprise is a savvy idea given key food trends and consumer needs.

Food trends update

Five key food trends have dominated the food sector in the last 18 months:

  • Our planet
  • Plant-based
  • Functional wellness
  • Life well-lived and
  • The impact of Covid #19

The post-pandemic consumer has reassessed what is important – 85% of UK consumers have adopted at least one lifestyle change (Deloitte, April 2021) and 48% of consumers think sustainability is more important (Kantar 2021). Consumers care more about our planet and many are highly engaged in ‘sustainability’ – whether that is moving from packaged products to refillable alternatives, loving local or taking part in #Veganuary or #Regenuary. Since its launch in 2014 more than 2 million people globally were expected to sign up to Veganuary in 2022 with food producers, shops & restaurants maximising the opportunity and catering for this demand. For people wanting to eat more sustainably while not cutting out meat there is Regenuary – a more nuanced approach with a focus on seasonal produce from farms with a lower or beneficial impact on the environment.

Plant-based is no longer just for vegetarians, it is here to stay driven by beliefs that is it better for health & the planet, that it helps manage weight, supports animal welfare or that meat is too expensive. A staggering 54% of Gen Z are actively trying to reduce meat consumption (Euromonitor 2020).

At the same time there is increased interest in ‘functional wellness’ – foods that do something positive for you and your body – people thinking of food in terms of medicine – food for health. The pandemic kick-started a growth in interest in ‘food for immunity’ and many daily foods now feature immunity statements on their packaging.

Life well-lived combines a few sub-trends – life slower, self-indulgence & self-care. Today’s consumer is looking for a better work-life balance, they want more from their time, they want mediative moments and sensory indulgence, they want to enjoy the journey & not just the destination. This may be about guilt-free consumption & having a positive impact on the planet but it is also about provenance and an appreciation of what is around us.

The pandemic has made consumers reassess what is important and will have a lasting impact. There is a greater interest in local culinary culture & sustainability, and people are looking for ‘experiences’. Food inflation and the squeeze on household disposable income has also increased interest in cost-saving meal ideas, often nostalgic recipes from previous ‘hard times’.

Opportunities in wild & foraged foods

Wild and sustainably foraged foods address a number of these trends. They immerse the consumer in nature and highlight the importance of sustainability. They support well-being – getting out in the fresh air and foraging for your free ingredients. We’re talking plants – many with historical functional wellness characteristics and with a connection to local heritage and locality.

Is there an opportunity for you to consider a food tourism offering – where people travel for a taste of place in order to get a sense of place – by showcasing local, wild or sustainably foraged foods? Can you create an immersive food experience foraging & cooking wild foods? Do you have land where foraging experiences can be created? If you’re developing a destination experience make sure you embrace local and visiting customers, and to be open in terms of your sustainability commitment. Any enterprise will be strengthened with an online offer – be sure to take advantage of the digital trend and build your offer with a clear and credible story.

Be responsible when foraging:

  • Don’t pick or eat anything you can’t 100% positively identify
  • Avoid picking rare species – be aware of local laws & protected species
  • Only take what you need
  • Take advantage of guided walks & foraging courses
  • Avoid plants on busy roads

If you want to find out more take advantage of the free online webinars curated for businesses interested in exploring the foraging opportunity. Whether you’re a food producer, a farmer, a chef, a garden centre or plant nursery; thinking about product or experience development – there’s an event for you. Check out the link to book your place: Foraging Fortnight Business Events, 07979 245 935

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