Foodservice in Retail Innovation

Ready for our second deep dive from this year’s IFE seminar sessions with IGD?

April 16, 2024
Naomi Barry
Global cuisine
April 16, 2024
Naomi Barry

The second IGD talk I attended began with a question… How many food related decisions does the average person make each day? And it’s much higher than I thought… According to Kroger, the average person makes 221 food related decisions… every single day, so there’s no mistaking that food and drink are an incredibly deep-rooted part of our everyday lives!

But why so many?  According to the experts, the number of ‘eating moments’ is on the rise, even more so post-pandemic.  Our traditional three-a-day meal pattern is changing, and we’re making decisions on the go, based on convenience, food functionality, price and experience, depending on the occasion. And of course, there are more options than ever for us all to choose from, beyond eating at home or dining out, making those decisions even more complex!

And while we might like to think that predicting the next big thing is as easy as following influencers or seeing what’s gaining traction on social, what shapes the market is so much more complex, taking into account sectors, categories, trends, diets, global flavour and cuisines.  But with so many factors at play in food and drink, it’s more important now, perhaps than ever, for brands to have a strong NPD plan and pipeline that keeps them in front of the competition, particularly in an ever-changing landscape when cost is impacting businesses at all stages of the chain.

And here foodservice could provide the answer, the test and learn if you like, for setting the tone for what’s hot in grocery retail innovation.

Post-pandemic, eating in has reclaimed its share of the market, and looks to be retaining it at 37%, predicted to hold to 2028.  IGD attributes this to the agility of retailers adapting and innovating ranges, by offering products that target key eating out missions across the day. But it’s not just as easy as recreating dishes found in foodservice or finding the next big cuisine to enjoy at home – unfortunately, the stretch from out-of-home to in-home cooking is too far to create scale.  Many companies and brands have tried, and failed, but research shows that creating brand experiences out of home and transferring them into retail is the only way to make up ‘space’ and deliver the desired stretch – take for example the success of Nando’s retail range.

To help companies navigate trend planning for the long-term, the team at IGD has created the Four Forces of Change STAR model, taking into account four megatrends shaping the world we live in:

  • Societal shifts
  • Transformative technology
  • Altering authorities
  • Resource resilience

The approach encourages businesses to thinking beyond the ‘now’ and prepare for future eventualities, but of course with so much disruption and uncertainty, it’s no surprise that perhaps thinking ahead and modelling for the next five years isn’t as front of mind for many as the what’s next. One thing is for sure though, consumer expectations and technological innovation isn’t slowing down.  Here, the foodservice sector is a great example of one facing these challenges head on, adapting to consumer demand, while still managing the day to day, supply chain and rising costs.

The journey from foodservice to retail

The team took us on a fascinating journey on where foodie trends start and how they transfer from OOH via product inception, to ubiquity:

1.  Inception: Trends start here, typically found in casual, street food environments, or at fine dining restaurants. At this stage these foods are difficult to seek out and find on menus, more stumbled across – and seen in retail at ethnic markets, typically as ingredients.

2.  Adoption: Trends grow here, typically at lower cost.  At this point in the cycle, they’re still differentiated and often feature authentic or premium ingredients. They are likely found in casual independent, and speciality grocery stores.

3.  Proliferation: At this stage, trends are adjusted for mainstream appeal, often combined with popular dishes, like burgers or pasta.  And from here consumers will be used to seeing these foods in chain restaurants, QSR and supermarkets.

4.  Ubiquity: At ubiquity-stage, trends reach their maturity and can be found across all sectors of the food industry.

Foodservice driving innovation…

Who would be without hot sauce at home?  While our favourite condiment was first conceived in street food, it quicky moved to independent stockists, followed by Nando’s… who went on to grow the category in foodservice and retail – with hot sauce challenges being played out on social media – now it’s available everywhere!

And sushi, which was born in the first Japanese restaurant in the UK in 1994.  Followed later in the decade by YoSushi, coming to the masses via Sushidog and Wagamama 2010-2015… fast forward to 2023, Sushi overtook the classic sandwich as the UK’s fastest growing premium lunchtime dish, according to Tesco.

And it’s backed further still, by Asda’s Trend Book, released last year, outlining its food and beverage product development for the next 18 months.  Drawing on global cuisines and flavours, fusion cuisines, loaded sandwiches, and pasta breakfasts, bold visuals and interactive elements, it illustrates perfectly how retail innovation is strongly influenced by trends emerging in the foodservice industry and how to offer at-home experiences in response to demand.

Media impact

While supermarkets are being led by foodservice, social media does have a role to play.  And the emergence of new platforms, notably TikTok which has been a powerful player in shaping trends and selling out brands overnight – take for example Prime and Little Moons.  This is further backed by Waitrose referencing the platform and its most-viewed foodie trends throughout its 2023 trend report

But it’s not just social – broadly speaking, media in all of its various forms has ‘ignited a culinary revolution in the UK’, shaping the way we experience food, while driving demand for diverse, international flavours and authenticity. Take for example MasterChef, making the gourmet accessible in your lounge at home, and the impact of influencers sharing trusted foodie recommendations and dining hotspots through our phone screens.

The changing landscape of food consumption

The team wrapped up the session by sharing the changing landscape of the UK’s food consumption, further proof if it were needed of the ever-powerful impact of foodservice.

Looking at food trends, comparing 2015 and 2023 plenty of cuisines have reached ubiquity, but it’s interesting to see new players entering the UK’s top 10.  Interesting too to note all of the advances and changes we’ve encountered along the way… the arrival of YouTube, Twitter, Instagram and TikTok, the first smart phone, salt reduction, calories introduced on menus, a sugar tax, HFSS, calorie labelling, Natasha’s law, not to mention a recession and a global pandemic. 

With greater access to high-quality restaurants and street food  we’ve shifted away from the British classics towards global cuisines, bold flavours and umami.


1. Chinese                 

2. Indian                   

3. British                   

4. Italian                   

5. Thai                       

6. American               

7. Mexican                 

8. Japanese               

9. Greek                     

10. French                 


1. Chinese                 

2. Indian                   

3. Mexican                 

4. Japanese                   

5. Italian

6. Greek

7. Thai

8. French

9. Spanish

10. Korean

Looking to the future, IGD shared the cuisines currently in the inception and adoption phases in the UK including Afghan, Ghanaian, Hawaiian, Himalayan, Ethiopian, Eritrea, Filipino and Indonesian, so watch this space for the next big thing!

It is however important to remember… Cuisines rarely disappear.  They tend to plateau or are reinvented, and the variety available to us, via foodservice and retail, will only grow!

So, with another absolutely captivating journey through food with the team at IGD, I have again learnt so much and loved hearing about the food trends, how they develop and seeing predictions come to life.

So, when it comes to our key takeaways (no pun intended!) from the session, remember:

  • Authenticity is key – emerging trends are increasingly localised and driven by countries famous for their spices
  • Foodservice drives innovation – without doubt the journey from foodservice inception is key to ubiquity in retail
  • And in order to remain relevant – keep up with the latest trends in media of all types, as it exerts its ever-growing influence.