Healthy, sustainable eating shapes UK specialty product launches

14 Sep 2022

From probiotic ice cream to CBD-infused chocolate and chorizo seasoning for plant-based meat, Ingredients Network went trendspotting at the Specialty and Fine Food Fair in London.

Craft chocolate, honey, gin, cheeses, nut butters, ice cream, spices and more: artisanal brands across the spectrum of food and drink were in full force at the London’s Speciality & Fine Food Fair, showcasing their wares to buyers from the independent sector, with potential retail purchasers from national chains and platforms also represented. It wasn’t all about the UK. European producers were well represented and there was an impressive turn-out from Asia.

Healthy, sustainable eating shapes UK specialty product launches
© AdobeStock/Halfpoint

The Discovery and Sustainability zones were busy with new products, new packaging, new flavours. It was evidence that the important topics driving food innovation and product development has really transformed in recent years with plant-based, vegan, healthy, natural, ethical, recyclable, and compostable ruling the signage.

Healthy Snacking

Snacks – savoury and sweet – abounded and were definitely of the ‘better for you’ ilk. Some of our favourites included Karen Eats’ lower sugar, “free of nasties” flavoured nuts; the range of tasty pulses from Taking the Pea (now vegan friendly); Cascoa’s coffee in an antioxidant filled bar; Chocobel’s no added sugar range of sweet treats, including the Keto Hero Bar; Radek’s Chocolate partnership with Bristol CBD Oil; and Coppa Maga’s probiotic, no added sugar ice cream.

Plant-based

Other vegan discoveries were Thanks Plants range of alternative burgers, sausages and their festive roast (tasters included cranberry sauce and stuffing, and yes, it did taste like Christmas). Alt Farms cheddar made from cultured oats and beans is nut, soy, lactose and preservative free. Vegan sweets and gum were well represented, notably Yumma Candy and the brilliantly packaged Oh My Gum. Barries’ egg-free mayonnaise has a range of six flavours and really doesn’t taste compromised. Need has made the ultimate plant-based ice cream sandwich and The Herby Hog seasonings has taken every possible flavour associated with the pig (bacon, chorizo, sausage, BBQ pork etc) and reproduced it in plant-based form.

© AdobeStock/nungning20
©AdobeStock/nungning20

Ethical Eating & Sustainability

Two stand-out brands were Gouter (a range of chocolate and nut clusters made with rescued bread) and Squished (energy balls made from unwanted fruit), both examples of upcycling to produce delicious products. But there were numerous stories across the whole exhibition of companies and their efforts to produce more eco-friendly products – in manufacturing, packaging and distribution - including Greenypeeps and their ‘carbon negative’ tea range, Two Farmers who create their hand-made crisps using renewable energy on their Herefordshire farm and Field Fare, who offer retailers a freezer of pick your own loose products, including fruits, vegetables, pastries, fish and desserts. The concept – “give customers what they want and not more than they need” – is designed to reduce food waste and unnecessary packaging.

Food waste was also a hot topic on the conference stage. Liam Jones from Olio described the challenges faced by their ‘Food Waste Heros’, volunteers who collect and redistribute surplus food across the UK. Host venue Olympia’s own catering manager Abbey Short demonstrated a considerable commitment to the reduction of food waste on site, boasting a 17% drop in their efforts to date with on-going plans to work towards the UK goal of halving food waste by 2030.

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