tfp Food & Beverage Trend Summit 2023 Recap

Recapping a hugely successful 10th annual food and beverage Trend Summit with tfp director Charles Banks, plus a look at the numbers from this year's event.

This year we had attendees join us from over 50 countries around the world, totalling over 2,500 people listening in and joining the conversation. Over 1,500 companies attended the event with thousands of hours watched amongst them. In summary, it was a truly global representation of the industry all together exploring invaluable insight from inspirational speakers.

To recap the event, tfp Co-Founder and Director, Charles Banks said:

To summarise the key themes, the shifts that are happening right now and into the future are big, they're complex, they can be polarising, divisive and uncomfortable and the trend manifestation that we expect to see into the future reflects this, there wont be one single solution but we've tried to cover as many of the different angles, opinions and perspectives as we can today as stimulus to feed your thinking, to think of new ways, this will continue on our other channels.

Looking to the future horizon there will be monumental change happening, there will have to be monumental change. You can clearly see from all of our speakers the overarching global driver adapt to thrive in evidence, the tension between the today… and where the tomorrow needs to be. At this year's event we talked about how AI will transform all aspects of food and drink and how it can be leveraged alongside human intelligence to stay ahead. We talked about the ever more complex strands within the pillars of protein and how the pendulum swings between them as we, as industry and consumer, expand our knowledge base and the impact that our quest for protein impacts us and the world we live in.

We know now that ambient food is awesome food, with a renewed focus on tinned, dried and shelf stable produce has encouraged creativity, gourmet elevation and innovation in the category, driving even greater relevance. We've learnt that, yes, consumers are watching the pennies, but they want meals that guarantee satisfaction and deliciousness in simple gourmet.

This is all about simple, guaranteed results but with elevated culinary practices and principles applied. We can't get enough of all things umami, so much so that we're seeing a 3rd wave that we've called Umami 3.0. Professional and home cooks alike are getting even more adventurous, creative and bold in search of that ultimate mouth watering drool. An amalgamation of seeking comfort in difficult times as a result of the cost-of-living crisis, along with consumers yearning for simpler, happier times with retro throwback, even if it's not your era, you can borrow it.

Unabashedly retro dishes from the 50s through to the 80s are back in vogue. We also learnt that "regenerative" is poised to replace "sustainable" as the way to describe environmentally and socially desirable business models. In part this is because "sustainable" tends to have the connotation of maintaining the status quo while regenerative evokes restoration, circularity and positive change. We heard Reniera talk about how EMF are bringing big business and entrepreneurs together in their big food re-design project and how Dominie and the team at Wild Hare Group believe with cross industry and cross disciplinary commitment that circular food systems can also be commercial and work for everyone from the farmer to the consumer and the planet.

We learnt that plants can be smarter than you think! Indeed, start-ups and scientists are turning them into 'protein factories' through molecular farming, and others are using gene-editing technology to give plants different advantages. Kate Hofman spoke about how grown up farms are leveraging this in their quest to develop resilient reliable food systems. We learnt that consumers are leveraging the power of genetics, neuroscience and nutrition to 'hack' their unique biology – it's not about just living longer, but BETTER optimised living.

What's clear is that health and wellbeing going forward is more about ME and is more about proactive intervention. In many of our conversations on the day we touched on UPFs. The debate around 'ultra processed' foods continues to gain momentum, as we begin understand the links between what we eat now and how that food is processed – and our long-term health down the road. Dr Kevin Hall spoke at length about what we know and what don't, the hypothesis and hyper palatable foods and how the way forward is about leveraging the knowledge now and the knowledge we'll gain into the future to unite industry in 'better processing', where there is absolutely opportunity.

Lastly, Megan Van Someren's presentation highlighted to us all how businesses, brands and celebrities can respond to the challenges of today with a relevant and ambitious business models that are yes commercial but ones that also have a strong social conscious heartbeat that runs across the business. You can I'm sure see why the global driver for 24/25 is – adapt to thrive and why the tomorrow choice is really the essential today choice.


All event videos are available to tfp trendhub subscribers online already. We'll be making all of these videos available to everybody on our YouTube channel from early in the new year. Thanks to everybody who joined us on the day - speakers and visitors alike. We're already looking forward to 2024!