Food and Drink update: Healthy interest in food and drink nourishes innovation

Published: Tuesday 4 February 2020

Veganuary, is it a fad or the future?

While the encouragement to ‘try vegan’ in January is thought to have been embraced by 350,000 people worldwide, the move towards a ‘vegan-influenced’ plant-based diet has been apparent in our supermarkets and restaurants for many months.

For the estimated 600,000 vegans in the UK, the decision to avoid consuming any animal products including meat, fish, dairy and eggs is a commitment made for many different reasons. It could be the desire to reduce environmental impact, improve animal welfare or for their own healthy-eating choices.

But it is not just vegans who are embracing the inclusion of more plant-based food and drink in their diets. The pursuit of ‘wellness’ certainly seems to be a consumer trend to watch. Research among supermarket shoppers in 2019 showed that one in five Brits were eating less meat than in the previous year, with almost two in three (64%) saying this was for health benefits. 

Discerning shoppers looking for healthier alternatives to products high in fat, salt and sugar are looking, and finding, a growing number of options. This has been influenced, in part, by regulation. Since the introduction of the ‘sugar tax’ on soft drinks in April 2018, it’s thought that 90 million kilos of sugar have been removed from UK diets. Many manufacturers heeded advance warning of the incoming levy in order to re-formulate their recipes with reduced, or zero, sugar content, neatly avoiding the tax while also satisfying health-conscious consumers. That said, sugary drinks are still holding their own.

Looking at the growing ‘energy drinks’ sector specifically, the sales of ‘regular’ energy drinks were valued at £172 million, compared to £67 million for the diet versions. And while the big three brands Lucozade, Red Bull and Monster dominate, there are some innovative smaller brands appearing in the energy drinks aisle, offering more natural ingredients as a ‘pick-me-up’.

Natural innovators

In fact, we were delighted to present NFSG Ltd, the father-and-son business behind emerging brand, Overhang, with the Fastest Growing Business Award at the 2019 Cotswold Life Family Business Awards, sponsored by Hazlewoods. Based on an old family recipe originating in Genoa, Italy, circa 1880, Overhang is an all-natural blend of ginger, orange and lime, with added milk thistle, burdock root and raspberry leaf.

Listed within many of the high street’s biggest supermarkets, health-food shops and convenience stores and online, Steve and Will Wilkinson’s Gloucestershire-based business has quickly expanded into the export market, taking their revitalising drink to the US and UAE.

We wish them continued success and expect to see much more from NFSG, and other innovative natural brands, in the months and years to come.

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David Williams
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Rebecca Copping
Rebecca Copping
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