Local food is a key trend

Today’s consumers have a taste for everything that is local, organic and healthy.

Our very own time-honored and distinct local foods will soon receive their well-deserved attention as a recent study revealed that regional and community brands are the ones being welcomed and sought after by most Filipino consumers.


“Food for Thought,” the pioneering research of Lowe Counsel, the strategic insights and innovation consultancy arm of Lowe Manila, identified the current trends on consumer behavior toward food consumption. Specifically, it looked on the evolution of eating habits, tastes and behavior of consumers and determined key emerging trends within the food and beverage category.

In-depth interviews with chosen “thought leaders”—individuals who are the forefront of new ideas, behavior and attitudes with most progressive attitudes and influence on others—that included luminaries and experts in the culinary industry were used to characterize the evolution of the Filipinos’ eating habits, preference and behavior.

“While trends are important, it is equally important to understand what’s driving them and this is where local situation and context come into play,” said Lowe Inc. vice president for brand planning Bang Gutierrez.

Everyone who is going in and out of the country has his or her own share of food advice. Most especially the overseas Filipino workers consisting of more than 10 percent of the current population have influenced the market by introducing new things to their families.

Easier accessibility to travel has led to cultural influences and increased the penchant of Filipino consumer, Gutierrez added.

Due to the rise in numbers of lifestyle diseases targeting the thirty-something age group, it points towards food and lifestyle habits as contributory factors.

“Those who have diseases and illnesses are getting younger and younger. There’s no longer a way for us to deny that our lifestyle and food affect our health,” she said.

According to Gutierrez, another important market driver is sustainability. Shortages in basic commodities such as rice, imported milk, butter and flour hit the country down to the poor.

Meanwhile, the advent of culinary schools training new and fresh chefs will bring in innovative restaurant concepts. “Sooner or later these graduates will obviously impact the food industry,” she added.

Time-pressured consumers, or those who devote much time at work and commuting, have less time to prepare their own food. This type of consumers will greatly affect the direction where the food industry is going.

Also, the mature consumer market, given the country’s lack of free health care and the cost of medicines, are turning to functional foods and supplements to solve their wellness issues, Gutierrez explained.

Key trends

1 Rediscovering local. Local food will be a key trend in reviving and enriching the quality of all-time local favorite dishes. This is where the influence of new “culinarians” and the people coming in the food industry will make an impact. Traditional dishes will be the focus. “People will be pleased with enthusiasm as they naturally gravitate toward the food that they know, they grew up with and they’re comfortable with,” Gutierrez said.

Regional and community brands are perceived to be of higher quality in terms of processes and are seen as authentic against homogenous global brands. “Consumers will be curious to know how a certain product is processed before it is put into box,” she added.

She also emphasized that the implication of this is building regional or boutique brands, which is not too far off as opposed to constantly trying to go national and push on a single brand across different markets and regions.

Safety has become an important trend and it will become an important discriminator among consumers particularly when it comes to packaged goods. They are more likely to trust big companies with established reputations.

Likewise, a counter trend is the homemade products and brands made by individuals. “If you know the origin of brands—people putting a name to a certain product—in contrast to products from a company that you don’t know,” she stressed.

2 Health is wealth. In relation to the increased culinary education, chefs are embracing the challenge of providing healthy but enjoyable menus. Healthier options in restaurants help move the people to embrace healthier food in their lives.

“Gone are days when you say healthy, it tastes awful,” Gutierrez said.

There is also an added value when people see other people eating healthy foods. There is a certain badge value attached to it.

One big trend is functional food. Food as medicine will continue to compliment western medicine in the future. In effect, the study showed that the pharmaceutical industry would feel the impact of this trend due to the cost of maintenance medicine that is “prohibitive” even for upscale consumers.

“This trend will create new opportunities for food brands,” Gutierrez said.

The medical community will serve as an instrumental means for this trend to happen as they speak more often on the link between certain food and diseases.

“We can no longer extricate the link between food and health,” Gutierrez emphasized.

3 Juicy future. Natural and fresh fruit juice is a segment that is gaining traction. “We aw a major shift from carbonated drinks to iced teas as a healthier alternative,” she said.

“We foresee that the next shift will be out of that category as people will begin to scrutinize what exactly is in the bottle that they are drinking.” Brands will begin to offer natural options.

4 Appliance of science. People will look into science to validate claims and establish the connection between food and health. “As people’s need for food change so is the kitchen,” she added.

As food preparation methods evolve, the kitchen of the future needs to have new and different type of equipment that are moving towards the preservation of nutrients and integrity of food.

5 Luxury and indulgence. Qualities of processing and quantity or scarcity are the two factors that will continue to dictate what is considered luxury. An emerging segment of luxury will be affordable indulgences such as the “special edition” and “seasonal” that offer a chance to indulge and pay a premium for “everyday” items.

6 Experience eating. People will want to get as close to the source of their food as possible. “Close to the source does not mean the nearest groceries, but where is it made,” Gutierrez explained. This gives motivation to create shorter food supply chains.

The demand for transparency of the food source will be a future trend that will most likely affect the food industry. People will judge quality, safety and taste based on where the food comes from.

Live kitchens will be offered by more restaurants in order for consumers to see the freshness and quality of food being prepared and cooked.

7 Sustainable and local foods. “We saw an emerging trend in terms of the application of indigenous ingredients in western foods like chili ice cream, ampalaya ice cream and malunggay chips,” Gutierrez said. The economic imperative from poor regions is driving them to collaborate with culinarians to provide a means of living for cottage industries.

Consumers appreciate the concept of organic food but find it difficult to practice. “Price disparity between organic and nonorganic options remains so high that normal consumers still cannot wrap their hands around organic foods,” she added.

Urban gardening or “growing your own food” is another emerging trend. Due to the absence of food sources, people who go organic or raw food are resorting to growing their own food to sustain a chosen lifestyle.

8 Convenience. Fast-food restaurants have become the default choice by many particularly by working employees.

Packaging nutritious and quality food will be the next trend as people veer away from preservatives.

Via Business Mirror