Navigating the Modern Palate: Meeting Consumer Demand for Real Food With Real, Expanded Value in F&B
F&B businesses are redefining excellence to meet the demands of discerning consumers who seek value, ethics, and holistic well-being in equal measure. It’s time to explore this intersection of value, health, and convenience in F&B as businesses across the world are rising to the challenge to provide more than just sustenance, and embracing the concept of real food with real value, to meet the complexities of modern consumer expectations.
Modern-day F&B consumers are a discerning group: they’re educated, curious, and aware of global and social issues, and as a result, they care about sustainability and ethics in what they purchase, whether that’s their food and drink, their clothing, their cars, and beyond. And they don’t just want things that are good for the planet and good for society - they also want foods that positively impact their own health and well-being, with at least 40% of consumers placing this as a priority.
In addition to these holistic and health-focused benefits, consumers are also seeking things that offer them value. The advent of technology has armed the consumer with a wealth of ways to be empowered, from having access to an abundance of information to being given a voice (and platforms through which it can be heard), not to mention a seemingly unlimited new scope of competition as the physical borders of the past are increasingly broken down, and allowing them to demand more from the products they buy. In the technological age, the world’s is the consumer’s oyster - and they want these so-called oysters to be sustainably-produced, ethically raised, as locally-sourced as possible, traceable, from a company that is not only transparent about its processes and conduct, and that perhaps also gives back to the community - and that also speaks to them in a personal way by being aligned with their principles and reflecting their lifestyle, whether that’s through their practices or their branding. It’s a tall order that can be considerably intimidating for F&B businesses, particularly as so many are already struggling to face down other modern challenges including everything from the effects of climate change and extreme weather to wars and political conflicts, rising economic pressures, and everything in between. But the demand for real food with real value is one that companies - and the food and beverage industry as a whole - is being compelled to meet and serve, in order to survive, grow, and thrive.
Embedded amidst this call for value is also the desire for consumers to get the maximum quality and benefits out of each item they opt for. Although they’re happy to spend more on the product that matter to them the most - and many are even willing to part ways with a brand or product if it didn’t align with their principles and lifestyle - at a time where people across every corner of the globe are feeling the effects of high prices and rising inflation, consumers still want to get as much bang for their buck as possible. This trend isn’t just tied to financial reasons either: consumers are also trying to prioritize their health and wellbeing despite their increasingly busy schedules, leaving them looking for clever multitaskers that offer them maximum convenience and time-saving. One area where this has already been seen is in the speciality foods and beverage market, where coffees, juices, and even waters are being boosted with health and cognitive benefits such as adaptogens, “brain food”, immunity boosters, and superfoods. In the dairy industry, it’s now par for the course to see eggs, milks, yoghurts, and cheeses that have been fortified with extra nutritional benefits, while the sweets and snacks industry has also seen an enormous surge in demand for added-value products that can offer you everything from beauty-boosting antioxidants to digestion-improving fibre, more vitamins and energy, gut-health improvers, and more, all in convenient packaging that is environmentally-friendly while being designed to make it easy for people to have it all even while they’re on the go.
With such high demands, companies trying to rise to the challenge aren’t just eager to show off how much they’re trying to meet these needs - it feels almost imperative that F&B businesses embrace as much transparency as possible with their consumer base in order to be successful. But this transparency has hidden benefits that go beyond meeting consumer demand - it doesn’t just help to appeal customers to your brand, it also helps to create a discourse between a brand and a buyer, building relationships that become an integral part of their lifestyle. The result, if done right? More customer loyalty, the chance to expand laterally with new realms of diversification and exciting, creative collaborations and partnerships. Even within a company, this increase in transparency comes with extra benefits: it helps employees feel more valued, respected, and able to trust in their leadership and their organisation as a whole, improving everything from staff retention and combating labour shortages to improving communication, workflow processes, and innovation.
The benefits of embracing the concept of real food, with real value, is one that benefits businesses, food industry workers, and consumers alike - and underlining it all is the fact that this growing emphasis on conscientious consumption requires F&B businesses the world over to rise with excellence. In the modern culinary landscape, food choices go beyond mere sustenance, and the achievement of excellence must now incorporate that which is not just well-crafted but also thoughtfully-crafted, with premium and ethically-sourced ingredients, created through ethical and transparent practices, and wherein every facet of the culinary experience – from sourcing or manufacturing to preparation and presentation, and even experience – are more important than ever. These elevated standards are being seen across all levels of the industry, reflected in an uptick in certifications and accolades recognising exceptional quality and sustainability practices, as well as a boost in the educational initiatives and professional development programmes nurturing a new generation of F&B professionals committed to pushing the boundaries of culinary innovation and artistry, and redefining what it means to achieve greatness in F&B.
One of the most highly-anticipated events in the international food and beverage industry’s annual calendar, Gulfood is known for being the ultimate facilitator of achieving this level of excellence, by providing the largest, most trusted platform for F&B sourcing, networking, and more. This year, 5,500+ exhibitors from 127 countries will be coming together to network, grow, and build this brighter future, offering countless opportunities to forge connections and close deals that will not only meet these ever-shifting modern consumer needs, but also create exceptional and lucrative opportunities for F&B businesses from across the world. Don’t miss your chance to join us there this year, from February 19-23, 2024, at Dubai World Trade Centre, and elevate your business to new heights as you make a real impact in the global F&B landscape.