Published On: 14/11/20222.8 min read

In October, we had the opportunity to attend the SIAL 2022 conference, in Paris.

Organised by Comexposium, SIAL Paris is the largest food industry trade fair in the world with more than 7,000 exhibitors and 400,000 exhibited products.

The aim in the conference is to provide unique insights into trends and opportunities in this huge sector, so that businesses like us can stay up to date with new innovations and provide the best possible service to our suppliers and customers across the globe.

It was a fantastic event which gave us lots of food for thought (pardon the pun), and now we want to share with you our key takeaways that you should consider for your planning activity.

Consumer expectations

Trends in consumer behaviour are often volatile and unpredictable due to the ever-changing nature of the food industry. For us, it was particularly interesting to see that despite the rise in environmental activism, consumers are still prioritising their health above all. Since the pandemic, two thirds of consumers now choose products or ingredients designed to boost immunity, even if they have negative environmental effects.

It was not surprising to find that consumers value enjoyment as a necessity in eating, so much so that 50% said they have treated themselves more during and since the pandemic with gourmet and comforting products. Given the circumstances of a global pandemic, people have understood and appreciated the value in treating themselves as it can so easily be taken away.

Agrifood innovation

If there’s one thing you need to know, it’s that there are five main trends which influence food innovation on the industrial side: enjoyment, health, convenience, fitness, and ethics. Putting this into perspective, enjoyment and health came out on top as most innovative, with ethics showing a steady increase over the past five years. This could be due to the rise in plant-based diets that require brands to develop new and inventive ways to stay relevant, as well as the moral obligation to pay more attention to environmental effects in food.

Those working in the production of alcohol-free drinks, savoury frozen foods, and dairy will be happy to learn that these are the most innovative categories of food, both in 2020 and 2021.

Overall, there has been a wave in eco-responsible foods, with an increase in plant-based alternatives to animal protein and carbon footprint matching fair pay for producers in level of importance.

Out of home catering

As we know, this industry has experienced a negative impact in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. From supply and labour shortages to a turbulent recovery, out of home catering is yet to return to its 2019 level.

Price sensitivity is also a notable issue here, partly due to the Ukrainian crisis. Research has found that 55% of people think the price increases we are witnessing will influence their out of home dining, with 31% sharing that they will be likely to visit bars and restaurants less often.

Where is the opportunity here? For suppliers, it’s important to apply this insight and focus on customers prioritising household spending by opting to eat at home. There is a opportunity to capitalise on and utilise this insight when planning campaigns, product placement or development.

SIAL 2022 was a fantastic experience that has left us feeling inspired and full of insight which we’re excited to be taking forward.