October 17, 2022

Pleasure drives product innovation and development, SIAL Insights reveals

Enjoyment is a key motivator and driver for innovation in the agri- food industry 

SIAL Insights grants visitors access to leading analysis on the food industry’s major trends and developments from partners Kantar, ProtéinesXTC and NPD.

Results from the Kantar Insights Food 360 Study 2022 show that satisfaction is an important factor in shaping the behaviour and expectations of consumers, and is also becoming a more complex area of study.

In summary, 71% of survey respondents said they expected food to be enjoyable (an increase of one percentage point from the previous survey). This is the first time there has been an increase in six years.

The report draws a fundamental connection between food and people’s emotions, and how it has been, and is, a “haven” during times of crisis and uncertainty. Enjoyment was cited as the number one focus for innovation, with nearly one in two innovations in the food industry putting enjoyment as their number one focus.

The survey also shows that consumers do not want to have to choose between enjoying their food, and eating healthy or ethical products. 

The last few years have led consumers to ask fundamental questions about the food industry, especially regarding its impact on the environment, as well as ethical concerns for animals. Some 41% of respondents said they felt guilty about eating meat and had concerns about animals suffering.

Meanwhile, 11% of consumers were found to have donated to NGOs whose goal is improving the food industry. Thus, there is clearly a demand for food that is enjoyable, while at the same time being healthy and ethical.

The survey found that consumers also have an appetite for escapism through food. With planes being grounded over the past few years and ongoing travel disruptions in some parts of the world there is a heightened awareness, and demand, for new tastes and textures.

Another significant point is that following lockdowns, consumers decided to “reclaim” their homes, identified as a space of security, comfort and pleasure too. Kantar Insights found that 56% of consumers were found to have cooked more since 2020.

The quest for new tastes manifests itself in many forms for consumers, be it powerful tastes, original natural ingredients or unusual ingredient combinations (chocolate and seaweed for example). 

The region of Southeast Asia, especially countries like Japan and Korea, is reportedly leading inspiration in the trend known as “assertive exoticism”. Another region of interest is sub-Saharan Africa, cosnidered as a taste territory with untapped potential.

More specifically, it find there is a market for innovation with sweet flavours. For example, new yoghurt flavours, including baobab, vanilla, tangerine, yuzu and even lavender. Ice creams and sorbets also present themselves as good flavour experiment, with exciting tastes and textures, such as champagne. 

The challenge for restaurants to balance price and pleasure

SIAL Insights has found consumers are more sensitive to price than they were before. However, there is still an appetite for enjoyment, with customers prepared to pay more for a “value proposition”.

It suggests, that for consumers, it is not about finding the lowest price point. “Value for money” is a lever for satisfaction, with some people willing to pay a premium for a high quality dining experience, whether that is for local produce, unique flavours and ingredients or even restaurant atmosphere. 

This appears to be a polarising trend in Europe. The NPD Group found that 54% of Europeans think restaurant prices have risen too much relative to their purchasing power, despite respondents understanding the reasons for increases, such as improvements in food quality, raw materials, wages or fixed costs.