Health and food: Focus on current trends

Health is a core consumer concern. This 2018 Alter’Native Food conference casts an eye over the current food trends.

Health and pleasure: new product offerings that are both healthy and indulgent

This 2018 Alter’Native Food conference reflects a growing aspiration for so many people, which is to “eat healthily”. Foodservice professionals need to take this on board, to offer balanced food offerings that are also delicious and appealing.

What is the vocabulary of Generations Y and Z when it comes to health and pleasure?

Impact des génération Y & Z sur la consommation alimentaire

The advent of Generations Y and Z is vital for explaining why the notion of “healthy is sexy” has assumed such importance on the food market. These “millennial” generations represent a major tranche of the population: 27% in the USA and 24% in Europe. They have taken control of the modes of communication, in particular on the social networks, and impose their world vision on the entire planet.

The particular character of these generations of Millennials is that they have been raised amidst food crises, and they have a different outlook from the generations that have gone before. For them, the age of plenty is taken for granted, but the food crises give them cause for concern. They are therefore more interested in the quality and the sourcing of foodstuffs. Their vocabulary is peppered with key terms such as these:

  • “Craft”, “artisan”: notably in the USA, where the craft movement accounts for more than 10% of the food market. Enthusiasm for artisan production therefore has a real impact. The idea is to put a more human focus back on food, in contrast to products that are sometimes judged to be too industrial. The non-standardised is now testament to quality.
  • “Taste”: previously, being a restaurateur meant being able to cook, to wed ingredients together. Although this is still the case today, it is also possible to observe real importance afforded to procurement and sourcing. A good chef is also capable of identifying good produce, and liaising closely with producers to obtain the best raw materials. The emergence of “food halls” is an illustration of this.
  • “Experience”: for millennials, experience is of prime importance. In the USA, for example, an influencer made headlines by saying that avocado toast was killing off the auto industry! By setting a perishable foodstuff against an automotive product, she illustrated a trend among consumers to reallocate their budgets on things that may be more experimental, and not designed necessarily to last.
  • Health”: people are becoming ever more health-conscious. Domination such as that of the burger cannot be overturned overnight, but increasing attention is being paid to staying healthy. Several dietary schools of thought have also come to the fore: flexitarians, vegans, raw (uncooked food or food cooked at less than 42°C), “free-from”" (gluten-free, sugar-free).

For Anne-Claire Paré, these items of vocabulary illustrate: “…this desire for what is both healthy and indulgent […] and which characterises the age.”

What are the concepts and products that typify the health and indulgence trend?

Several broad product families and sectors of activity are riding the wave of these latest trends, coffee being a notable example. The latest Starbucks Reserve, for example, opened its doors in 2018 in reaction to the emergence of new independent coffee roasters with a strong health message. These coffee roasters are turning their backs on indulgent beverages and refocusing on the real taste of coffee. The menus proposed are therefore quite succinct, but with the accent on sourcing and preparation. Other sectors may be cited:

  • Bakeries, offering products with natural, simple and healthy connotations. In the space of five years, some 500 artisan bakeries have sprung up on the French market. Genuine gastronomy is developing around bread.
  • The self-service sector is putting the emphasis on health. The Prêt-A-Manger chain offers detailed nutritional information and lots of recipes of the “slimline” sandwich or mini-salad variety. The health aspect is pushed really hard at Prêt, making their fare appear fashionable and palatable for the consumer.
  • Fast food is also producing innovations, not least with the development of the vegetarian burger.
  • Generalist concepts are seeing the light of day, such as “Pod”, a fast food chain created in 2005 which proposes authentic and exciting menus. 
    Healthy fast food concept - Pod London

    Healthy fast food concept - Pod London

  • The phenomenon also encompasses desserts with, for example, the emergence of 500 mL pots of ice cream containing only 240 calories.

There are therefore lots of concepts supported by the idea of good health and the desire to eat healthily, while having something appealing on your plate.

Speaker: Anne-Claire Paré, BENTO

Focus on Bento

Anne-Claire Paré is the founder of the Bento trends agency, which focuses on three main business lines:

  • International foodservice trends
  • Food and foodservice marketing (for boosting and assessing existing offerings)
  • Creating concepts and insights for innovation

Bento observes the trends not only in France but also internationally since, notwithstanding France’s rich culinary heritage, it is interesting to venture abroad to gain extra impact.

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