It is clear that innovation from major brands is at an all-time low. Indeed it seems that food innovation from the big brand stables is dead with them choosing instead to buy high flying, entrepreneurial brands.
Financially, we live in challenging times of course but as a consequence, consumers are increasingly seeking out best value for money along with products that provide the ultimate in convenience.
COVID was of course a game-changer with the need by retailers to cull niche product lines to enable them to manage difficult logistics challenges. But now their focus is to revive their profitability and grow their market share by introducing innovative, new products.
Against this backdrop, consumers are more savvy than ever – constantly looking for not only the best value for money but also best value for time.
One only has to look towards the demise of once-loved retail stores and restaurant chains to evidence consumers voting with their feet as they seek better value for time elsewhere.
And this is good news for the plethora of new brands coming to market in greater numbers than ever before.
Technology can both fast track and reduce the cost of bringing new products to market and provide incredible insights into consumer behaviour though tools such as those that analyse social media chatter and sentiment.
As already mentioned, the major retailers are starting to turn their attention to offer differentiation, seeking out and supporting brands with the potential to make them destination stores for consumers and specific demographics within them.
The increase in vegan brands and the size of their ranging within chilled in particular is an example of this – as is the growth in gluten free products now on sale. But there are opportunities for vegetarian foods too as food service menus increasingly favour vegan dishes over their vegetarian counterparts.
Non-dairy is another growth opportunity, not just attracting vegans but also a broader demographic who are becoming more health focused with a realisation of we are what we eat.
And nowhere is this more evident than in the explosion of interest in gut health products off the back of large research studies which have linked poor gut flora to depression, anxiety, Parkinsons, diabetes, obesity and even dementia.
Another significant opportunity are brands which focus on the Mediterranean diet with its continuously increasing recognition as the healthiest diet in the World.
It is clear that the opportunities for pioneering brands are significant and with increasing interest from investors in supporting new food brand concepts, the future looks bright indeed.