September 7, 2022

Enjoyment is a key motivator and driver for innovation in the food industry, SIAL has found.

Results from the Kantar Insights Food 360 Study 2022 have indicated that satisfaction determines behaviours and expectations of consumers, and is also becoming a more complex area of study. Ahead of the SIAL Paris show this October, SIAL Insights outlines the findings of Kantar’s informative survey.

Enjoyment as a core value

In simple terms, 71% of survey respondents said that they expect food to be something they enjoy (an increase of one percentage point from the previous survey). This is the first time there has been an increase in six years, with enjoyment as an expectation falling behind health and naturalness. 

The SIAL report draws a fundamental connection between food and emotions, and how food has been, and is, a “haven” during times of crisis and uncertainty. 

Enjoyment was cited as the enduring number one focus for innovation, with nearly one in two innovations in the food industry positioning enjoyment as the number one focus. 

Enjoyment is for everyone 

The survey found that consumers do not want to choose between enjoying the food they eat, and eating healthy or ethical food. 

The last few years have led consumers to ask fundamental questions about the food industry, especially regarding negative impact on the environment, as well as ethical concerns for animals. 41% of respondents said they felt guilty about eating meat, and have concerns about animals suffering. Meanwhile, 11% of consumers were found to have funded NGOs whose goal is to improve the food industry. Thus, there is a demand from consumers for food that is enjoyable, while also being healthy and ethical too. 

With price sensitivity emerging as a key issue, spurred on by inflation as well as geopolitical disruption, the report notes that there is a challenge for the food industry to offer food that is both delicious and conscious. 

Consumer intention to explore new tastes

The survey found that consumers have an appetite for escapism through food. With the future of long-haul travel still up in the air, and with planes grounded for extended periods of time in previous years, there is a heightened awareness, and demand, for new tastes and textures. 

The search 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, observed as a taste territory with untapped potential. One example of this interest is French retail chain Monoplix, which is using more and more African recipes, such as chicken mafé, in its ready meals. 

In the world of fine dining, revered chef Mory Sacko has impressed by mixing African, Japanese and French influences on the menu of his Michelin-star restaurant Mosuke since September 2020.  

Specifically, there is reportedly a market for innovation with sweet flavours. New yoghurt flavours include baobab, vanilla, tangerine, yuzu and even lavender. Ice creams and sorbets have also been observed to experiment with exciting flavours and textures, such as champagne. 

The reclamation of home cooking

The SIAL report states 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. With the help of digital tools, consumers reinvested in food through cooking and baking, or opted for home delivery. A study from NPD Crest in 2021 found that the share of deliveries in total out-of-home catering orders was 7% in 2021, contrast to 2% in 2019. In the UK, this percentage was found to be 18% in 2021.  

Home cooking has a plethora of benefits on budgets and health, due to the lack of food processing, the report notes. That said, not everyone had the time to cook entire meals from scratch. Food innovation therefore could provide solutions to this via cooking aids, recipe kits and ready-made preparations for savoury meals. 

In terms of deliveries, the popularity of eating at a “home restaurant” continues via home delivery and pickup options. Players in the food service industry have been able to adapt to new needs, with an increase in home deliveries that may very well be a lasting trend.  

The challenge for restaurants to balance price and pleasure

According to the SIAL report, 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”.

Apparently, for consumers, it is not about finding the lowest price point. “Value for money” is a lever for satisfaction, and it was found that some are 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 improvement in food quality, increase in raw materials, wages or fixed costs. 

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