In 2020, a lot will change that could impact the food industry. This might sound like a broad statement but here are some important factors or questions to answer:
- Will the trend towards plant-based and other foods continue moving us away from red meat?
- How will Brexit impact where and what we buy?
- Concern for the environment is driving ‘buy local’ but do we have capacity to cope with the demand on a local scale?
Stars and stripes
Historically, the UK has sourced non-UK products from countries in Europe such as France and Ireland but with Brexit and possible future trade deals, this could change. There have been many concerns raised (and rightly so) over the possibility we could be sourcing chlorinated chicken from the USA in the future. While this might raise alarm bells and be a main focal point for discussion, the wider issue is over general food regulation and how this might impact the UK market.
The European Union is considered to have stricter regulations over food hygiene and animal welfare. The approach and culture in the USA is very different and this is reflected in their laws and regulations as well as their farming practices.
Intensive farming in the USA is, well, more intensive! and a future trade deal could lead to food such as chicken, beef or crops that look and taste different. This could be for a number of reasons such as the USA uses a ‘rapid-growth’ process for beef and feeding cattle on a hormone-rich diet., It could also be because they use different or more pesticides on crops to yield higher crop productivity, or the way in which chickens are washed with chlorine.
As we move away from being in the EU and towards new trade deals with different countries, catering businesses need to be aware of how consumers will react to possible changes in the supply chain. Will consumers be more demanding in wanting to know where their ingredients come from and will they seek more reassurances than they have in the past? Certainly this has been a trend in the last 20 years and concerns over health practices in other countries are likely to raise further questions.
Greater care for the environment could be the answer
In the introduction, we raised the question ‘Will the trend towards plant-based and other foods continue moving us away from red meat?’. It’s now clearer than ever that there is global warming and that what we eat plays a role in caring for the planet.
Buying and eating locally grown crops instead of internationally shipped red meat for example, will massively reduce the carbon footprint. If current consumer and supply chain trends continue, then the demand for products from countries such as the USA will be less significant, as we eat more vegan food and source locally more of what we eat.
What will your stance be?
The purpose of this article is not to be political. It’s to raise awareness of how Brexit and other factors in 2020 could impact your business. Although 2020 will bring more opportunities for catering businesses and suppliers, it also brings more uncertainty about where food ingredients could be sourced from and how they are produced. A catering business that ignores consumer trends or where and how products are sourced could quickly find itself in the spotlight for the wrong reasons.
Alternatively, a well-thought-out branding campaign, telling customers how you source locally, or sustainability could be a fantastic way to make 2020 a great success for your business! What will your stance be?
If you would like to discuss these subject matters in greater detail, get in touch with our food service consultants at Ramsay Todd Consultancy.