Strategic advice for the food and beverage industry

Meat gets a fresh face

Posted on:
December 3, 2018
Julian Mellentin

In a world seemingly obsessed with plant protein, meat is having to work harder to appeal to a new generation of conscientious meat-eaters who want producers to go the extra mile for the sake of the planet.

And 22-year-old cattle rancher Nikki Carr is leading the way in the normally staid and macho ranching industry with a fresh young perspective on raising and selling beef.

It was while studying to become a lawyer that Carr was first inspired to become a cattle rancher. She began to notice a growing awareness of food sustainability amongst her Millennial generation, and a visit to a ranch in Australia gave her a glimpse of an alternative way of raising cattle.

‘Almost all the beef sold in America,’ Carr says, ‘is raised in a feedlot.’ In Australia, the cows are free to roam the pastures. ‘Australia is one of the biggest beef producers in the world, so I felt there was a serious lapse in ways things are done here.’ The result: Hippie Cow Beef, a pioneering Texas cattle ranch and beef-delivery service she runs with partner Parker Flannery.

By connecting and selling directly to their customers online, Hippie Cow says they are able to provide an affordable means for America to enjoy beef without guilt. An 8lb (3.6kg) ‘Steak Lovers’ delivery box costs $160, a 20lb (9kg) “Cowboy Curated” box just over $200.

Hippie Cow’s methods are environmentally-sound and fair to the cattle – the animals are allowed to roam at will across thousands of acres – and the company donates a portion of their profits to a veterans’ charity, Heroes and Horses.

Astutely tapping into the trend for authenticity and provenance, their website emphasises their ‘passion and respect for traditional values’ and uses fonts and images associated with the Old American West to create a feeling of heritage.

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Devoted to dairy?

Posted on:
November 29, 2018
Julian Mellentin

If you think that young people are the next big consumers of dairy alternatives, think again.

In October this year, twitter user @shine_with_love posted a humorous observation about the tendency of lactose-intolerant people to eat dairy, despite being fully aware of the intestinal discomfort that will follow. The post, pictured, received an astounding 188,000 likes and 64,000 retweets. What is it that resonated with so many people? The humour, of course, but to be funny it has to have an element of truth about it; it has to have that modern buzzword, ‘relatability’.

What is perhaps surprising is that these dairy devotees are mostly young people; around 70% of both Instagram and Tumblr users are under the age of 35, and 40% of Twitter users are under 30. This is where these viral posts are originating: the age group that is often stereotyped as leading the vegan trend. However, a brief conversation with even a non-lactose-intolerant teenager can end in the verdict ‘I could never be vegan – I love cheese too much.’

The comments of these posts are full of apparently lactose-intolerant people and their friends saying ‘I drink soy milk but I refuse to give up cheese,’ ‘I’m here for a good time not a long time,’ and ‘What is life without cheese though? These aren’t the only examples; a quick search on Instagram or Tumblr reveals an astonishing number of similar posts, all proclaiming the author’s dogged determination to brave the unpleasant effects of lactose intolerance for the sake of dairy.

While these fearless cheese-lovers almost certainly do not make up the majority of the 65% of lactose-intolerant people worldwide, they are clearly very common, especially in the US and Europe, where most of these posts come from. There is something about dairy that people are willing to suffer for. Particularly beloved are ice cream, milk and – toughest of all to give up – cheese.

The young, it seems, have a love affair with dairy, and many are unwilling to bow down to social pressure to be vegan, or even to gastrointestinal discomfort, if it means giving that up.


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4 Key Trends for 2019 seen in Food Matters Live

Posted on:
November 28, 2018
Julian Mellentin

It was very exciting to see a lot of companies at the recent Food Matters Live connecting to many of our 10 Key Trends for 2019. Food Matters Live is an annual event in London that brings together companies, research organisations and experts to showcase and discuss the future of food and drink. We spotted these examples of four of the key trends are coming to life and being used to generate exciting new products and businesses:

1. Digestive Wellness

When you look at an event map and see a dedicated section called “Kombucha Corner” you know that interest in gut health and fermentation is here to stay.  But kombucha brands weren’t the only ones riding the “digestive health” wave. From fermented vegetables brands like Bodkin’s claiming to be “naturally rich in probiotics and great for gut health” to low-FODMAP, gluten-free and lactose-free Belly Goodness pasta sauces that “don’t have any of the common foods that can irritate the gut”, it was clear that this trend is now being driven by both science, consumer interest and new product development. It was no surprise that the room was completely full for the Digestive Health seminar talks, and it is exciting to see that many innovative brands are responding to all kinds of tummy-related consumer needs.

2. Plant-based
We’ve pointed out many times before that contrary to what’s being said, plant-based is not only for vegans or vegetarians. What’s really fuelling this trend is the interest – from both lifestyle and mainstream consumers – in having more plants and experimenting with their diet.  So it was great to see that this is now being accepted by most, with brands putting strong efforts into developing convenient and good tasting plant-based products to please the palates of consumers beyond vegan/vegetarian preferences. The mayonnaise from Rubies in the Rubble that “vegans can enjoy too!” is made with aquafaba, the high-in-protein water left over from cooking chickpeas that provides texture and consistency, and is a popular ingredient in many vegan dessert recipes. Other interesting products included ice-cream made from lupin beans by Lupinesse and Swedish Oumph! plant-based kebab and pulled “pork” products.

3. Personalisation
Personalisation is all about consumers taking back control of their diet and health. They have easy access to technologies and platforms that allow them to research about these topics and make up their mind about what’s better for them. Surprisingly, even though it was during the “graveyard slot” of 4pm, the room was full for our seminar on personalised nutrition in which we presented a range of strategies that food & beverage companies can use to connect to this trend. It is clear that personalised nutrition is just getting started. An intriguing product was Foodini, a 3D food printer that looks like it could belong in the kitchen counter rather than the garage, and is marketed as a way of “knowing exactly what you’re eating, as you choose the ingredients that go in” and of reducing food waste.

4. Beverages redefined
Beverages was undoubtedly one of the categories with the most activity. From sparkling tea in a Prosecco-style bottle that could be an attractive product to the 40% of consumers who claim to want to reduce their alcohol consumption, to cacao-based coffee alternatives, there was something for everyone.  Innovations in the tea sector also abounded. Tea Rex is a brand offering pureed cold-pressed fruits & roots infusions (think turmeric, ginger, berries…). Tea Pop uses a patent-pending extraction process that “extracts all the goodness of loose-leaf tea” and forms a crystallised “pop” that dissolves in both hot or cold water – another brand connecting to reducing unnecessary food waste.

There’s no question that fragmentation of the marketplace and alternative channels (most of the small brands exhibiting had already set up their own online shops) are creating a wealth of opportunities for food & beverage companies. There are many niches and a market for everything. Just don’t expect it to be mass.

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