Increased spending on food shopping and new food trends in the UK create opportunities for Finnish food and beverage companies.
Already in 2012, BBC reported that Nordic food sales in the UK had been rising for five consecutive years and predicted the trend to continue. The Food People, food trends agency, reported Scandinavian food as the “hottest UK culinary trend of 2011”. In 2017, they also rated trend setting influence for different cuisines, Scandinavian resulting as 3.5 in the scale 1 to 5.
Indeed, popularity of Nordic phenomena, such as Nordic design, IKEA, ‘hygge’, and ‘fika’ have been supporting the interest in Nordic food in the UK as well. Nordic food is considered to be fresh and healthy or, if not the two aforementioned, then at least to be “comfort food”, such as cinnamon buns.
The United Kingdom has 67.6 million consumers and in 2016, the UK consumer expenditure in food, drink and catering was GBP 203 billion. The spending on food shopping rose 24% between 2008 and 2016. This trend is expected to continue. The grocery market segment is expected to be worth GBP 200 billion in 2020.
This growth, along with food trends, offers export opportunities for Finnish companies. As an example, Sweden has reported that in 2014 its grocery exports to the UK grew from GBP 243 million to GBP 343 million.
In health food trend, superfoods have been a growing category recent years. According to Mintel market research, in the UK there was increase of ca. 6% in super food and drink launches to the market. Nordic superfoods, such as berries, can have an increasing demand in the UK. For example, Waitrose, one of the biggest grocery stores in the UK, reported that blueberries are Britain’s favourite berry, leaving strawberry behind, and juniper berry sales are up 17% in 2017.
Gut health is also becoming increasingly trendy, and people are aiming to increase their probiotic and prebiotic intake.
Past years have signalled increase in protein-rich foods, but for the year 2018 it is reported that carbs are coming back. According to the Food People new bread and pasta innovations are making them popular again. This creates an opportunity carb-based comfort and health foods.
One notion of food trends in the UK is that they are shifting many more people to veganism or flexitarianism (eating predominantly, but not strictly, vegetarian) and dairy-free products. For instance, Kantar reports that the dairy-free segment has grown from 1.7% to 3.4% of the total dairy market in the last five years. Additionally, the dairy-free market has grown 18.3% between 2016-2017. These trends represent a growing opportunity for high-quality meat alternatives i.e. plant-based proteins.
Also the UK government reports of the growth of free-from market. According to them, one-third of British consumers are buying and eating some sort of free-from food. Numbers presented are:
22% buy gluten-free products
19% buy dairy-free products
16% buy wheat-free and lactose-free products
Baked gluten-free goods with a retail value of GBP 210 million, represent the majority of the free-from category and has in the recent years shown two-digit growth numbers. Frozen free-from food products are now worth approximately GBP 15 million with frozen prepared ready meals contributing to just over GBP 9 million of the market value.
Products with good market potential include:
Plant-based products, especially plant-based products that are rich in protein, such as fava bean products etc.
Sustainable products, ethically and sustainably produced
Superfoods and wild products, such as beatroot, berries (especially bilberry), chaga, birch sap, mushrooms etc.
Fish, especially fatty, wild, or sustainable
Nordic comfort food, such as cinnamon buns
Free-from products – lactose, gluten, wheat, dairy-free
Products that improve gut health
Snack innovations, such as fibre and protein-rich snacks
Coffee innovations, such as coffee RTD coffee drinks and instant coffees