Opinion

Tap into sub-trends and ‘foodie fads’ in your product development

Innovation should be tapping in to ‘sub-trends’ and ‘foodie fad’, say Jonny Bingham (left) and David Jones (right) (Photo©Sacha Ferrier)

Analysing, reporting and acting on food trends have become big business in the past few years.

Openly publishing our thoughts on the food trends, helps our clients focus their efforts on what will be best for them. By reviewing trends for the past two years, we noticed a few things that could help businesses in the way they approached new product development (NPD).

First, it is necessary to use a ‘tiering system’ for looking at trends. The three tiers we use are: major trends, sub-trends and foodie fads.

Sub-trends and ‘foodie fads’

More importantly, we noticed is that industry often takes months or even years to take advantage of trends and the gaps in the market generated by them. The problem is that a month is a long time and a trend could well be approaching the end of its life.

A good example of this was the demand for American products. These appeared in retail long after all of the trends writers had moved onto predicting other world flavours as the next big thing.

The result was that the retail environment was flooded with barbecue flavours – pulled pork being especially prominent – and consumers grew tired of it quickly. A lot of these launches have since disappeared from shelves, probably costing the producers a lot of money in the process. After all, NPD is a costly exercise.

The food industry as a whole, only seems to react to major trends after a delay, once they are confident that consumers want products in that area.

Sub-trends and foodie fads seem to be overlooked entirely – probably because they present a risk. The consequence of this is that consumer desire for these products is left un-satiated.

So, what if someone did pick them up? Consider the potential for a market where there is consumer demand but no competition – it could well be an extremely valuable area to work in.

First to market

A solution to this is to use independent, rather than in-house, NPD. It has the advantage of being able to respond quickly to these sub-trends and foodie fads because it cuts through the majority of the red tape involved in internal NPD.

Products can be developed, have the nutrition and cost estimated and any other required work turned around within a few days. By contrast, carried out internally it would probably take several weeks just to go through the approval stages.

Ultimately, outsourcing the work could save time and money. But, more importantly, products would more likely be first to hit the market.

  • Jonny Bingham and David Jones (Bingham & Jones) are contract food innovators for the food industry who, as Michelin restaurant-trained chefs, have a wealth of culinary experience, which they use to assist blue-chip food companies and others with their new product development for sale in supermarkets.

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