Preparing For The Next Normal - Wondrous Nature

Within Wondrous Nature we appreciate Mother Nature more than ever. Indeed, as the pace of life slows a little, we are finding magic and wonder in our own backyards, fields and parks. Gardening has replaced going to the pub as a national pastime(!), and local walks provide unexpected inspiration. The desire to protect the natural world abounds; so too does appetite for enjoying its bounty as Mother Nature intended. From tropical fruit to mystical mushrooms, the world is full of ingredients that need no alterations or modifications.

Topical Tropical:

There is no doubt about it, we are officially All Things Tropical obsessed; from home kitchens to restaurants to catwalks, we are inundated with images of palm trees, pineapples, coconuts and so on. As consumers look for exotic holiday-esque twists in their day-to-day lives to boost their mood and give them that 'holiday feeling' this is likely to become more prevalent. That means we are not only seeing it when it comes to interior design and fashion but also in our food with more people using tropical colours and fresh flavours...

Traditional tropical flavours such as, watermelon, coconut, passionfruit and mango are now giving way to their lesser known, however, of course equally exciting counterparts like guava, dragon fruit, mangosteen and açai. As for dishes, we have just been skimming the surface with tropical flavours we already know (and love), for example, mango salsa, goat curry and obviously jerk chicken. We should expect an increase of lesser known dishes and new innovation to make waves; think Cuban sandwiches, BBQ pineapple, coconut pavlova… well the list goes on.

There are obvious opportunities here is in tropical and Caribbean mixes, spices, marinades and flavours in snacking, BBQ, summer eating, seasonal drinks and cocktail but also desserts with lesser known tropical fruits.

Discovering Neptune:

Seafish, the public body that supports the UK seafood industry has recently carried out a poll that suggests over half (55%) of consumers would like to eat more seafood. There many factors that are increasing consumer interest in this sector such as, the health credentials of seafood, particularly oil fish; as we've mentioned in previous articles Renew Me & Don't Damage Me, consumers are becoming progressively concerned about their health and immunity and fish can be an excellent source of protein, omega 3 and vitamin D. Another factor is the ever-growing interest in flexitarian and pescatarian lifestyles; as many consumers look to cut down on their meat intake, fish and seafood is being used as a replacement. We also cannot forget the new lifestyle movement on the block, Seaganism, which is a diet that excludes all animal products except for sustainable fish & seafood.

There is no question of doubt that innovation in the fish & seafood sector itself is rising massively. Today's innovators are thinking far beyond traditional seafood formats and are going way outside the box – we are seeing things from seaweed crisps to squid sausage, seafood hot dogs to salmon jerky and fish ageing in a more waste conscious, health conscious world.

As we seek solace in comfort the world of seafood offers a plethora of options fish pie, fish and chips, fish fingers and scampi to name a few as well as fish 'named as meat' for a level of familiarity – fish sausage, pastrami, jerky or burger.

Additionally, lockdown has connected us all with domestic industries and in particular farmers and fishermen, we expect a renewed focus on the plight of the British fishing industry and the people within it.

Fairy Tale Forest:

Gardens and greenery have been trending everywhere from food, to fashion to interior design and from a visual perspective, that means lots of deeps green, forestry-inspired prints, bluebells, bright yellow sunflowers, crimson roses, mystical mushrooms etc. This year's palette is all about vivid, vibrant colours, and warm, natural light that appeals to children plus adults alike which is a world away from the pastel, mermaid and unicorn palettes of previous years.

You may ask the question, what's driving the obsession with all things green and natural? Well the uncertain times we are faced with are a big factor as many people have turned to gardening to keep busy whilst increasing their mood. It seems that gardens, vegetables, flowers and parks are providing a little bit of escapism for consumers in these tough times and we are actually gaining culinary inspiration from this too – we are seeing focaccia loaves adorned with edible gardens, cake draped in flowers and you cant have escaped the 2020 frenzy for foraged wild garlic pesto.

Leaves are getting renewed attention in this food era where waste reduction, root to stem eating and foraging are connecting us with nature. It's not all carrot tops and cauliflower leaves but similarly sorrel, hawthorn and broad bean leaves, but also fig, blackcurrant and citrus leaves in sweet cooking.

Mushrooms continue to surge in presence and popularity due to their 'meat like' texture, flavour and umami hit but also their purported medicinal properties particularly for Reishi and Chaga but also for their wider associations with nature, woodland and fairy tales, all offering comfort in times of uncertainty.

As It Is:

As consumer concern around the impact of what they put in their body increases, many want to believe what they eat is as 'untouched' and 'unprocessed' as possible. Although it is not a universally agreed or defined term, the discussion around 'clean label' goods is ever growing; roughly speaking it is all about being natural/ organic and using as few ingredients as achievable.

We then have to take into consideration that the pace of life has significantly slowed down for many people which is allowing them to take pleasure in things that may previously have been overlooked; cooking of course but also the natural world around us which is being appreciated now more than ever. This all feeds into the growing appetite for enjoying food 'as nature intended'. We have all heard of the wonky fruit / vegetable and just because it is blemished or asymmetrical doesn't mean it isn't nutritious and delicious… we then enter the era of 'uga-licious'.

As flavours and nutritional values are once again at the top of the agenda, we expect a shift to rid of all the 'unnecessary' bells and whistles and instead focus on closer to nature, valuing the 'whole' to reduce waste whether this be shop brought or home grown.

In this article we've highlighted the shifts that are likely to evolve and develop in the COVID-era through the lens of Wondrous Nature. The opportunity within tropical, holiday-esque escapism in food and drink to continue as we look to be connected to the tropical cultures we can visit. We expect the continued momentum behind sustainable domestic seafood either for health, nostalgia or as part of meat reduction. There will be opportunity in food and drinks that offer maximum comfort and connection with nature from minimally prepared and minimal waste. By considering these shifts and how you as a business, brand, start-up or entrepreneur, pivot and adapt in consideration of them, will mean that you're well positioned to succeed in this COVID-era in food and drink.

In article 7 we'll be continuing looking at the 'pleasure principle' social driver, this time looking at the mega trend Deep Flavour through the lens of the COVID-19 pandemic and the longer terms shifts that we expect to see manifest.

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Stay safe and keep well and we'll see you in Article 7.