In this article, in the New Food magazine, the author, Joshua Minchin outlines his thoughts on the challenges and trends that the food industry will have to cope with in 2021. Below we summarise the main points of the article.
The author states that it is crucial for the food industry to maintain the high levels of trust that consumers have had in them to date. This means that consumers trust that the food is safe to eat and that the industry looks after the people who work in the industry.
Due to Covid-19 many inspection bodies such as the FDA and the UK FSA postponed some of their physical inspections. The FDA stated in March that it was ” temporarily postponing all domestic and foreign routine surveillance facility inspections” although some did resume in July.
A lot of trust has been placed in food manufacturers to uphold safety standards in the absence of these inspections. The author predicts that these inspections will recommence and the food industry should prepare for these.
The author suggests that it is crucial for the food industry to keep focusing on sustainability. Due to the pandemic, some progress in sustainability was reversed. He gives examples such as the plastic wrapping that has reappeared on fruit and veg in supermarkets and the fact that many coffee shops banned the use of reusable coffee cups, increasing the demand once again for disposable plastic cups.
Some progress has been made on food waste with the example of Toast Ale who use surplus bread instead of virgin barley to brew its range of craft beers, saving nearly 2 million slices of bread from being wasted.
With the continuation of the pandemic, food businesses will continue to have to deal with ongoing shutdowns and reopening. They also need to cope with converting from being a restaurant to being a takeaway.
One of the challenges of this is that the food supplier or retailer must still provide all the necessary allergen information. This information can be provided in print, online or over the phone.
The pandemic has provided ample opportunity for food criminals as the demand for cheap food increases. Food such as honey and spice have been particularly vulnerable to fraud.
It is expected that in 2021 consumer interest in plant-based diets (either full or part plant-based) diets will increase.
More global food companies are beginning to launch some of their products in vegan form. McDonald’s are gearing up to release their McPlant range later this year while KFC has brought back a vegan burger.
However, some food manufacturers feel that innovation in plant-based food is slow. Innovation in areas such as taste, texture and nutrition need to accelerate, according to Michael Leonard, Chief Technical Officer at Motif Foodworks.
While the pandemic has meant that many restaurants are closed, consumers still want to enjoy craft and artisan foods. The author predicts that consumers will order these either by placing orders online for ready-made food or ordering craft and artisan ingredients online. Therefore, food producers in this sector still have an opportunity to grow despite the pandemic.
The author recommends that the food industry continue to embrace technology across all operations to survive. Embracing technology could include having virtual inspections, more use blockchain to better trace supplies and prevent fraud, augmented restaurant menus and cultured meat.
You can read the full article here.