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  • Top 10 Food and Beverage Industry Trends

Top 10 Food and Beverage Industry Trends

Consumer demands reshaping the UK food and drink manufacturing industry

Consumer behavior impacts the market for UK food and beverage manufacturers. Manufacturers have to navigate new recipes, packaging, labels, and demand for new products.

Learn more about this year’s trends—and what they mean for UK manufacturers—in our Food and Beverage Industry Trends white paper.

1. Buy local

Consumers want fresh local foods

British people are more concerned about climate change than ever before. One-fifth of consumers would choose brands with a clear sustainability vision over others.

This “shop local” trend ensures that people eat the freshest ingredients. In addition, it helps reduce carbon emissions linked to climate change.

How manufacturers can embrace the buy local trend

  1. Partner with area farmers to source produce.
  2. Choose local distributors focused on sustainability.
  3. Promote efforts to support the community and reduce your carbon footprint.
Grandfather, son and grandson working in greenhouse
Woman is selecting fruits in cotton bag at local food market

2. Zero-waste

Consumers want to help the planet

Even though the BBC show “Blue Planet II” first aired back in October 2017, it continues to make waves today. Footage showing animals struggling against pollutants affected viewers. Because of the programme, 88% of viewers altered their behaviour.

Zero-waste initiatives gained in popularity. Many businesses have banned disposable straws, plastic water bottles, and single-use coffee cups.

How manufacturers can make a difference

  1. Adopt sustainability standards for your packaging and transportation.
  2. Research how you can reduce or offset your greenhouse gas emissions.
  3. Replace single-use plastics with compostable or eco-friendly packing materials.

3. Meat-free

Consumers want vegan, vegetarian, and cruelty-free options

UK vegans—people avoiding all animal products—numbered 3.5million in April 2018 up from 150,000 in 2006 according to a recent article in The Independent. A new category called “flexitarians” has popped up as well. Flexitarians choose certain days or meals to avoid eating meat.

Animal welfare is the primary reason for these dietary choices. Consumers want to know their meat and dairy comes from humane farms. In 2018, 65% of meat shoppers said traceability is important to them.

How manufacturers can support meatless and cruelty-free diets

  1. Introduce meat-free and dairy-free products.
  2. Choose meat and dairy suppliers that meet high animal welfare standards.
  3. Put details of your product’s traceability on the packaging or website.
Chickens roaming around in a field
Compost bin full of vegetables' and garden waste

4. Minimising food waste

Consumers want to see less food go to waste

The UK wastes more than 10 million tonnes of food each year. 20% of that number—about £1.4 billion worth—comes from food manufacturing. People throw out food because it’s not eaten in time, or because they misunderstand the expiration dates and toss things that are still safe.

Another type of food waste is “wonky” fruits and vegetables. Supermarkets often reject misshapen or blemished produce. Asda found that 75% of customers would buy oddly shaped foods if they cost less, so some stores market “ugly veg” at a discount.

How manufacturers can cut food waste

  1. Buy suppliers’ unwanted produce for use in the foods you manufacture.
  2. Simplify and clarify food freshness labels.
  3. Invest in technology that helps you measure and minimise waste throughout your processes.

5. Mindful eating

Consumers want safe, ethical, and high-quality choices

The widespread “mindfulness” trend—being present in the moment—expanded to include mindful eating. Mindful shoppers seek nutritious, safe, ethically sourced foods. They study food labels and buy brands that demonstrate commitment to quality.

How manufacturers can support mindful eaters

  1. Choose suppliers who value transparency and traceability.
  2. Invest in technology that makes it easy to trace ingredients and assure quality throughout your supply chain.
  3. Promote how your brand ensures safety and ethically sources ingredients on product labels and your website.
Elderly man shopping in local supermarket, reading a nutrition label

Key Takeaway for UK Food and Drink Manufacturers


One common need across the food and drink industry is technology. To keep up with these trends, it's essential to have software that helps assure quality, traceability, and regulatory compliance.

Learn more about how Epicor Tropos helps UK process manufacturers manage the everyday business and boost efficiency across the enterprise.

Woman hands take smartphone photography of food

6. Instagram-able meals

Consumers want trendy, visually appealing foods and drinks

It’s not only famous foodies influencing the public. Millions of people photograph their meals and drinks to share their favourite finds. Colourful, interesting new foods and drinks posted online catch on quickly. Trends like sparkly mermaid toast and unicorn Frappuccinos generate buzz overnight.

Social media sites constantly lift “in-vogue” ingredients from near-obscurity. Just a few years ago, few consumers had heard of aquafaba, chia seeds, or sea vegetables. Now, they’re becoming mainstream.

How manufacturers can embrace social trends

  1. Use social media to promote Instagram-worthy photographs of your products.
  2. Monitor social sites and your supply chain to adjust before popular ingredients get scarce.

7. Free-from foods

Consumers want to avoid allergens and irritants

The most common “free-from” foods are dairy-free and gluten-free diets. Free-from food sales in the UK grew by £230 million in 2017. The number of people who say they regularly buy free-from foods grew from 19% to 43% between 2015–2017. 

Sensitivities such as lactose intolerance and coeliac disease boost sales for dairy-free milk. 15% of all UK households now avoid gluten—even if they don’t suffer from coeliac disease. They perceive the gluten-free diet to be healthier.

How manufacturers can incorporate free-from foods

  1. Promote products you already make that are free from common allergens or gluten.
  2. Look for opportunities to add gluten-free, nut-free, or dairy-free recipes into your product lineup.
  3. Be careful to avoid cross-contamination with allergens in free-from products.
Woman preparing almond milk at home. Pouring the milk into glass bottle
Person writing down a Healthy Lifestyle Diet plan

8. Healthy dieting

Consumers want foods that fit their wellness goals

Interest in healthy eating is on the rise. New diets arise all the time—keto, paleo, 5:2, Dukan, Atkins, and others are popular among consumers. Each of these diets increases the demand for food substitutions. For example, many choose “courgetti” in place of pasta, cauliflower for rice, and lettuce for wraps.

People also seek out foods that improve brain health. Maturing adults value foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, B vitamins, and antioxidants such as oily fish and leafy greens to boost brainpower.

How manufacturers can support consumers’ health and wellbeing goals

  1. Follow diet trends to see which ingredients are falling out of favour.
  2. Monitor demand for ingredient substitutions that might affect your supply chain.
  3. Consider using substitutions to create healthier versions of popular recipes..

9. Going global

Consumers want new flavours

UK consumers look to other countries and cultures for inspiration. Staples such as fish and chips and the Sunday roast now rank below curry as the favourite British meal. Foods from Korea, Hawaii, Portugal, Japan, Mexico, Cuba, the Philippines, and the Middle East are gaining popularity.

Social media is another major contributor to trendy international cuisine. As people share travel and dining photos with friends and family, they increase interest in new dishes and ingredients.

How manufacturers can feed international palates

  1. Follow travel blogs, social media pages, and magazines to discover trending global foods.
  2. Look for suppliers with a variety of international spices and ingredients.
  3. Incorporate global cuisine into your product recipes.
Floating market in Damnoen Saduak near Bangkok, Thailand.
Supermarket quick meal buffet line

10. Fast(er) food

Consumers want wholesome meals with minimal effort

Many people today feel time-poor. Adults work longer hours and often face longer commutes than in years past. The average time people spend preparing dinner at home shrank from an hour in 1980 to 24 minutes today. Many British households rarely cook as delivery services such as Deliveroo and Just Eat become more popular.

Consumers often stop to shop for their evening meal after work. These habits boost demand for high-quality convenient meals. Some businesses now sell gourmet freezer meals and vegan ready-meals. Others produce recipe boxes filled with all the necessary ingredients to cook at home. Spending on these recipe kits was up by 65% in the first half of 2016 compared to the same period in 2015.

How manufacturers can bring convenience to shoppers

  1. Offer ambient and fresh convenience foods that appeal to healthy eaters.
  2. Explore recipe kits for easy meals.
  3. Develop new products that only need one or two steps for a complete and nutritious meal.

Learn more about this year’s trends—and what they mean for UK manufacturers—in our Food and Beverage Industry Trends white paper.