Food for Thought: May 2021

Vegan cheese, cocktails, next-gen vitamins, and other recent articles, reports and long reads that made us stop and think

Food for thought

Spotting interesting trends and finding noteworthy food facts and figures is a big part of what we do at Ceres. Here are 10 recent articles, reports and long reads that made us stop and think.

Cracking vegan cheese: The global vegan cheese market is expected to almost triple by 2030, reaching $7bn (£5.1bn). However, challenges around taste, texture and meltability remain. This article profiles several interesting startups trying to create ‘genuinely cheesy’ vegan cheese using the latest tech. [Source: Wired UK]

Thirst for cocktails: Brits’ appetite for at-home cocktails during lockdown has sent UK sales of mixers soaring, with value up nearly 30% to £307.1m, according to Kantar data. This makes mixers the strongest-performing segment of the total soft drinks category. [Source: The Grocer]

Personalised nutrition: Zoe, a personalised nutrition startup based in the UK and US, has raised an additional $20m. Zoe’s approach focuses heavily on the microbiome and gut health. Its first commercial product includes a home testing kit that helps consumers understand how they respond to different foods, with personalised nutrition advice created based on the results. [Source: TechCrunch]

Virtual clienteling: An awkward term but powerful concept, ‘virtual clienteling’ refers to the practice of building customer relationships with digital tools. It’s becoming an increasingly important consideration in the context of omnichannel retail. Key examples from the world of grocery include US food retailer Albertsons, which uses AI-powered virtual assistants and live chat technology to answer shopper questions on product availability, delivery and more in real time. [Source: CB Insights]

Next-gen vitamins: With health and wellness a key focus for consumers, a new breed of startups is pushing into the vitamins and supplements market. Names to have on the radar include London-based Feel, which offers ‘clean’ supplements with punchy branding via a DTC model, and Heights, which specialises in ‘braincare’. The vitamins and supplements market is worth £144bn globally and 51% of Brits take some form of vitamin regularly. [Source: Sifted]

Flying high with insect protein: Singapore’s Blue Aqua International is partnering with air and travel services provider dnata to feed airport food waste to crickets and mealworms and turn them into fish feed. The partnership aims to reduce the country’s reliance on imported feed and help reduce food waste. Singapore imports more than 90% of its food but aims to produce a third locally by 2030. Less than 20% of its food waste is currently recycled. [Source: Bloomberg]

Shroom boom: The global mushroom market (excluding psychedelic varieties) is expected to be worth more than $50bn by 2025. This is being driven by growing interest in fungi and their use in on-trend products such as ‘adaptogenic’ mushroom coffee, mushroom jerky and mushroom-based meat alternatives. [Source: Vox]

Rise of the mystery box: To get attention on social media platforms such as YouTube and TikTok and increase their chances of going viral, some grocery brands are bundling their products into ‘mystery boxes’. The trend started in China and has now gained traction in the US. We’re keeping a close eye on how many UK food brands will follow suit. [Source: Modern Retail]

Frozen apple trees: Apple growers in the Italian valley of Valtellina have deliberately covered their flower-covered apple trees with a thin layer of water and frozen them. Paradoxically, it’s to help protect the trees from unusually cold weather and frost. [Source: Gastro Obscura]

Eat like a cat: To promote a new range of cat food, US brand Fancy Feast (part of Nestlé Purina) has released a cookbook of dishes for humans inspired by its products. [Source: Washington Post]