Food Industry Future Trends

Food manufacturers are still undergoing a period of change and transformation following the impact of COVID and Brexit. We anticipate that several existing trends – and some new ones – will guide strategic decision-making in the food sector this year.

4 Key Food Industry Future Trends

1. Plant-based Products

Consumer demand for plant-based products continues to accelerate around the world. The number of vegans in Europe (an estimated 2.6 million people) has doubled since 2015 and Europeans’ consumption of plant based food increased by 49% between 2018 and 2020. Global retail sales of plant-based food alternatives could reach $162bn by 2030, up from $29.4bn in 2020. By the end of this decade, 7% of the global protein market may be attributed to plant-based foods. Manufacturers will have to continue to adapt to meet the future needs of consumers.

So far, product development is mainly focused on plant-based protein and dairy alternatives, but the cell-based cultured proteins industry is still in its infancy and one to watch. Experts believe that, compared to conventional animal agriculture, the production of animal tissue in bioreactors will prove a safe and sustainable source of protein – a means to meet the rising appetites of the growing population without exhausting natural resources and raising carbon emission levels.

2. Higher Commitment to Clean Food Choice and Sustainability

Innovation in sustainability practices is changing as consumer demands and ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) requirements evolve. Consumers are more conscientious now about how they impact the environment. Consequently, manufacturers are becoming eco-conscious too, replacing fossil fuel-based energy sources with renewable and electricity-based energy.

We’re also witnessing significant and continuous changes around packaging (recyclable, biodegradable, etc.), the reduction of water consumption, and the increased development of more sustainable cleaning solutions for end-products and equipment alike.

3. Retail and Foodservice

The COVID pandemic has undoubtedly changed consumer buying behaviour. The on-trade sector suffered at the start of the pandemic as pubs, cafes, and restaurants were forced to close. Retailers, on the other hand, experienced significant revenue gains as consumers stayed at home and ordered their groceries online in much larger numbers than ever before.

According to Deloitte, 64% of consumers do not plan to return to their pre-pandemic habits of dining out in restaurants. Instead, 61% of consumers are ordering takeout or delivery at least once per week, which is up from 29% one year ago. A rise in convenience meal delivery firms such as Gousto and Hello Fresh is fuelling this trend.

4. Increased IoT Connectivity and Automation

Implementing and updating technologies will be a priority for businesses across all sectors this year. Investment in industry 4.0 tools that enable companies to optimise workflow, remove production bottlenecks, improve margins and waste, etc. will likely continue unabated in 2022 and beyond.

Food manufacturing is one of many industries facing labour shortages, not only in the wake of COVID but also following Brexit. Food businesses have often been behind the curve on automation and robotics but given the challenges created by labour shortages, there is a larger requirement to mitigate the need for humans and to enhance process efficiency and end-products for producers.

Nigel Wright Interim Management

Our interim management team works closely with consumer businesses across the UK and Germany to secure interim leaders into key roles. Using our international resources and expertise, we can deploy exceptionally qualified interim leaders to manage and assess complex business issues efficiently and implement solutions effectively.

The benefits of this flexible solution to short-term business needs are:

Speed: Timeframes are significantly lower than you think. An interim can be brought in within just a few days, depending on the brief and circumstance.

Expertise: Our interim executives are often overqualified, having previously achieved a very high level of seniority in their field. Many now focus solely on interim work so their knowledge can deliver results in a condensed timeframe.

Impartiality: As an independent third party they can provide honest and impartial perspectives without any political agendas.

Cost Savings: Our interim executives frequently provide a higher return on your investment, avoiding legal obligations, holiday and sick pay, pensions and other benefits.

Contact details

Our Regional Director, Sarah Simpson, has built an impressive track record with a variety of businesses whether PE-backed, owner-managed SMEs, FTSE and AIM-listed. Sarah is an award-winning Interim Provider who works closely with leadership teams to understand their strategic goals and has helped several organisations identify interim executives to assist in time-critical situations.              

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For more information and any recruitment queries, please contact Sarah Simpson:


Telephone: +44 (0)7706 338 253