The Year of the Rise of Fresh Produce
TREND REPORT 2019:
United Fresh (www.unitedfresh.co.nz) has over 27 years' experience supporting and promoting the New Zealand fresh produce industry, working with the entire value chain, from seed producer and grower to consumer, providing leadership on pan produce issues.
This is their inaugural Trend Report for New Zealand.
Whether you’re growing it, selling it or just eating it, fresh produce in New Zealand is a core staple in every household. With great growing conditions and an innovative, versatile industry, we’re lucky to have access to some of the tastiest fruit and vegetables on the planet.
In 2019, global indications are that fresh produce is at the top of every trend list. Healthy, nutritious food, prepared with love is the key to happiness in homes across the nation, but the days of meat and two vege gracing our plates every night may be a distant memory. So what exactly will our kitchens be producing this year? What will our grocery lists look like? And what on earth is a Jafflechute? United Fresh, New Zealand’s only pan-produce industry organisation, has broken down the top fresh produce trends from around the world and around the country so pour yourself a guava and hemp seed smoothie and take note.
As concern for our environment and the future of our planet increases so to do the range of solutions that individual consumers can adopt as part of their daily lives. Research from the University of Oxford (nature.com) indicates that sustaining a healthier planet will require us to not only halve the amount of food waste we create, and improve farming practices, but it will also require a shift toward more plant-based diets. With the production of beef creating nearly 100 times more emissions than that of the same amount of legumes such as beans, peas or lentils, it’s easy to see why plant-based protein is being touted as a game-changer for the environment.
A flexitarian diet simply means reducing some - but not all - of our meat consumption. Think Meatfree-Monday or making a bolognese sauce with cannellini beans instead of mince. Vegetables become the star of the evening meal rather than a bit part on the side with cauliflower replacing rice or courgettes replacing noodles topped off with a no-meat mince made from beetroot, mushrooms, tomatoes and almonds. Look for more plant-based protein to appear in your supermarket aisle and in ready-meal options as this trend becomes mainstream.
Struggling to put wholesome, nutritious food on the table every night? You’re not alone. The rise of food delivery companies has been a steady one over the past few years from meal-kits on subscription to UberEats ferrying restaurant offerings straight to your front door. 2019 will see further food delivery programmes designed to make life easier for busy families. Growing demand for healthier alternatives has seen a number of new options in the market such as My Food Bag’s ‘Fresh Start’ programme featuring a range of meals founded on high quality fresh produce.
Millennial consumers are the key drivers in the delivery sector with new technology ensuring continued innovation to capture the attention of this smart, savvy but ultimately fickle market. From ordering a pizza via emoji to toasties dropped by parachute (yes, this really is a thing, happening on a street corner in Melbourne - jafflechutes.com) the aim is food that’s fast, fresh and fun.
Primary producers are also seeing the value in the delivery market with everyone from local greengrocers to fruit orchardists joining the online revolution and supplying direct to consumers in major centres.
If 2018 was the year we farewelled the plastic bag, 2019 is the year we’ll be pushing retailers and manufacturers to join the plastic-free revolution. The pressure to reduce packaging - particularly in the fresh produce aisle - is mounting with consumers demanding supermarkets walk their talk and offer alternatives to plastic wrapped goods.
According to the Ministry of Environment, every year, New Zealanders send around 2.5 million tonnes of waste to landfill, while about 252,000 tonnes of this is plastic waste. Supermarkets in the UK have committed to ensuring all plastic packaging can be reused, recycled or composted by 2025, and it seems our supermarkets are also listening to the thousands of calls for ‘food in the nude’. In fresh produce, initiatives include misting systems to keep products fresh, BYO containers or bags and compostable or edible packaging.
Consumers in 2019 are predicted to shop more frequently and for smaller amounts than we have in the past. Gone is the traditional ‘big shop’ as we focus on fresher ingredients and buy for just a couple of meals at a time.
Expect a big increase in the range of ready-to-eat and ready-to-cook kits and products on our shelves. Think peeled and chopped produce, fresh sauces, quality frozen products and wholefood ‘good for you’ treats (dessert hummus is now a thing….).
4.2 Feeling Good
Wellness is a huge trend with everything from kombucha to adaptogenic (think superpowered) mushrooms and oat milk featuring on our shopping lists and CBD oils, collagen and Ayurvedic herbs added to your favourite snacks. Retailers are expected to play a more active role in supporting the health and wellness of their customers. Most of us might aspire to eat and live well, with 85% of consumers saying they are actively trying to improve their diet, but aspirations don’t always translate into action. Helping consumers to both look and feel good will be an increasing focus for retailers and suppliers.
4.3 Shop Smarter
Technology has a big role to play as ecommerce grows both online and instore. Shop your favourite recipe on Instagram or use a personal digital device as you roam the aisles, supermarkets are adopting social platforms to tailor customer loyalty programmes and provide a seamless shopping experience regardless of location. Greater tracking of products and consumers will enable greater traceability from farm-to-plate as consumers want more in-depth information about where their food comes from. They want to meet primary producers, hear their stories and make a personal (if virtual) connection with the origin of the contents of their pantry.
4.4 Offline Appeal
In the drive to keep customers coming into bricks and mortar stores as well as utilising the range of online options, the shopping ‘experience’ is increasingly important. Smaller stores catering for quick shops, restaurants and pharmacies on premise and instore ‘activities’ such as monthly wine clubs will start to appear as supermarkets up the ante.
Homegrown is emerging as a strong trend for 2019. The backyard vege garden is undergoing a renaissance as Kiwis, especially our younger ones, embrace the benefits of healthy eating. The well-being of our youth will be in the spotlight this year with the development of the Government’s Child and Youth Well-Being Strategy. With a specific strand of this strategy focussing on healthy, nutritious eating, the kids of ‘19 will be encouraged to embrace the 5+ A Day message to get growing and make healthy food choices. Aided by schemes like Fruit and Vegetables in Schools (FIS) and Garden to Table, our schools are becoming a hothouse of young gardeners keen to learn the ‘lost’ skills of providing for the family. Since 2005, the FIS scheme has become the widest-reaching health initiative, delivering daily servings of fresh produce to over 118,000 children and grow-your-own education resources for teachers throughout the country thereby improving the overall health and attitudes of not only the students enrolled in the scheme but also their families and the wider community.
Building on the interest in gardening in schools, around the country it’s now becoming common to see community gardens, a social hub within a neighbourhood offering an opportunity to learn about, grow and share fresh fruit and vegetables. In addition to these large gardens, small ‘sharing sheds’ are popping up around the country as families look for an easy way to share excess produce or other household bits and pieces.
6. Māori Garden
Young Māori are at the forefront of the coming green revolution with the rediscovery of traditional growing techniques and heritage varieties of plants such as the kūmara, as well as the use of te reo in gardening - 5+ A Day’s most successful campaign last year was during Te Wiki o Te Reo Māori and Jade Temepara’s He Kākano gardening show on Māori TV highlighted the benefits of growing and cooking your own vegetables to a wide audience of te reo speakers. The 5+ A Day campaign highlighted the growing movement with their slogan ‘Ngā huarākau me ngā huawhenua mo te oranga’, ‘Fruit and vegetables for well-being’. With a combined focus on strengthening the mind and the body, the campaign’s combination of language-learning and healthy eating put the spotlight on key vegetables used in Māori kai blended with modern flavours and cooking styles. New developments and partnerships which encourage the involvement of young Māori are emerging across all primary industries. The Māori Kiwifruit Growers Forum which works in conjunction with Zespri and Te Puni Kōkiri are an excellent example of this with their focus on growing Māori leadership, education and expertise within this multi-million dollar industry. Bringing jobs and a share in the wealth generated by the kiwifruit industry to remote areas such as Te Kaha and Ōpōtiki, industry partnerships with local iwi are proving a win-win situation for all.
Beauty products with natural ingredients have been increasing in popularity for several years now. In 2019 the quest for perfect skin will include a greater focus on diet and the benefits of ingesting products deemed super ‘skin food’. While coconut oil and avocado were top of the hitlist last year, look for blueberries, pumpkin, chamomile and papaya to emerge as the heroes of 2019. While tasty little blueberries have become a popular snack, their health and beauty benefits are becoming increasingly important to consumers. Containing one of the highest antioxidant levels of any fruit, blueberries are now being added to daily beauty rituals for healthy skin as well as a healthy body. The vitamins C and E in blueberries help remove dead skin cells and promote the growth of new ones, while the vitamin A is a great collagen booster and a high concentration of Anthocyanin helps reduce inflammation. Now found in everything from cleansers to anti-wrinkle creams, look for more blueberry-based beauty products emerging over the coming year.
The global beverage trade is experiencing some of the highest growth in all of the FMCG categories. A daily green smoothie, kombucha, matcha tea or turmeric latte have become as popular as the old standards of tea, coffee and juice.
Smoothies are set to continue to top the list for those looking for a quick health fix. Whether it’s homemade before you rush out the door or picked up at a local vendor, a blended glass of fresh produce is still a quick solution for a treat-on-the-go. New additions to the classic green smoothie recipe include oat milk (high in protein), activated charcoal, collagen, CBD oil, hemp seeds, mushrooms and, in the international market, Pacifica fruit such as guava and dragon fruit. The movement away from disposable plastic cups and straws is set to continue with large corporations from supermarkets to restaurant chains and even the state of California banning plastic straws. Fortunately for smoothie fans, both metal straws, paper versions and the smoothie bowl have emerged as alternatives to ensure the continuation of our daily dose of blended fresh fruit and vegetable goodness.
9.The Death of Boiled
Research has shown us that fresh is best when it comes to our daily vege and boiling them in water significantly reduces the nutritional value of many of our favourites. If they’re not pureed in a smoothie or slow roasted in the oven, how will we be cooking our carrots and spinach this year? According to Pinterest, sealed in tinfoil is the ‘new’ trend, with images of foil packet dinners achieving the highest number of ‘pins’ on the image sharing site. Steam cooking in parchment or foil is certainly not a new technique to the kitchen, but the combination of ‘clean’, low-fat cooking and easy clean-up is a clear winner for the home cook.
Air fryers are enjoying an upswing in popularity with their promise of diet-friendly fried food - what’s not to like? Preparing beetroot and kumara fries or even the dreaded kale chips is apparently a breeze in a modern air fryer, with many cooking a whole roast chicken and swearing they replace all of the functions of a standard oven at a fraction of the cost.
Anything to do with gut health and pre or probiotics is still a major food trend over the coming year. Pickling and fermenting vegetables remains on the rise with the popularity of kimchi and sauerkraut continuing on from 2018. The addition of chillies and hot spices to pickle mixtures adds a new spin on these classics.
As the legal standing of medicinal cannabis evolves, so too does the use of cannabis-related food products. Fruit and vegetable growers across the country are keeping a close eye on this developing market as opportunities to get a slice of the ‘green’ economy pie become clearer. Whether it’s growing for medicinal use or for more mainstream products such as CBD oil, there’s no doubt that demand for these products will create enormous demand in our primary industry.