The trends UK food and drink start-ups are targeting

The Bread & Jam Festival kicks off on October 3-4, showcasing new brands with functional food, plant-based offerings, world flavours, kid-friendly snacks and low- or no-alcohol drinks.

18 September 2019
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Now in its fourth year, the Bread & Jam Festival is back on October 3-4 and will be attended by hundreds of emerging food and drink brands in the UK.

It’s an opportunity to discover the latest innovation coming through the pipeline, according to Bread & Jam co-founder Jason Gibb, who gives a rundown of the 2019

delegates and what trends they are seeing coming through from the grassroots.

Fully functional

Functionality is a trend that we have seen emerging for a few years now. And this year’s cohort of emerging brands are looking at new categories of food that can deliver enhanced benefits to body, mind and soul. With SKUs called ‘calm’ (infused with L-theanine) and ‘skincare’ (with plant-based collagen) Gubel are taking chocolate to a new level. There’s also high performance coffee from Bondi, functional spritzers from Lost Coast and drinks that support performance, detoxification and balance from Alive Beverages.

World of flavour

Brexit isn’t stopping food entrepreneurs from looking to the outside world for culinary inspiration. New flavours, products and dishes are being inspired by cuisines as diverse as Filipino, Cajun and West African. We have premium plantain chips from Purely, Arabic fava bean dips from Cuzena, with a quarter of the fat of hummus, and even cultural mash-ups like cactus pasta.

There is a lot of interest in forgotten ancient grains – Insane Grain, for example, are planning a range of sorghum based snacks and Malobi’s are introducing the UK to fonio, a gluten free super-grain from Senegal.

You can’t kid a kidder

If you are a parent you know that all kids love salty snacks, sugary sweets and lashing of tommy k on their dinner. If only there were healthy versions of these products that we could get the kids hooked on! Well that is the thought process behind Nombots who will be launching a range of healthy crisps, Hullaballoo who make kid-sized chocolate bars with 75% less sugar and Milly’s Kidchup who make  condiments with no refined sugar, artificial sweeteners or syrups aimed at youngsters.

Vegan 2.0

It’s interesting to see that whereas last year vegan was the buzzword with delegates, new brands have started to replace the v-word with plant-based claims on packet. This is presumably because they have clicked that the opportunity lies with the 22m flexitarians in the UK rather than the 2m hard-core vegans.

As a vegan myself I know that the biggest challenges we are yet to overcome are to find decent butter, egg and milk chocolate alternatives.

So I have high hopes for Fellow Creatures who are making unbelievably creamy chocolate without dairy, Mergulo who are developing vegan butter and another, as yet unnamed, start-up having a crack at making a plant-based liquid egg.

Vitamin sea

We have a new wave of food brands pushing the nutritional and flavour benefits of seaweed and even sea water. Seaspoon, for example, make a range of seaweed-based seasonings for sprinkling on your breakfast, lunch, dinner and even pudding. Shore have gone a step further and baked the seaweed into puffed crisps with enticing flavours such as lime, chilli and coconut. Pushing the boat out even further there is an as yet unnamed start-up looking at seawater shots that will provide the body with all the minerals and trace elements that it needs.

Low alcohol is high up the agenda

With reports that a third of young people are now teetotal it is no surprise that we are seeing a record number of low- or no- alcohol adult drink start-ups signing up to the Bread & Jam Festival. From mocktail makers like Sipling, Dachita and the Social Drinking Club, to spirit distillers like Caleno and Wilfred’s, to beer brewers like Nirvana and the Coast Beer Co. They are all hoping to bring joy to going alcohol-free.

What’s on?

The festival will include an agenda of talks, panels and workshops. This year’s roster of speakers include the founders and heads of Clipper Tea, Oatly, Hotel Chocolat, VBites, Bol, Oppo, Dalston Drinks, Deliciously Ella, Pip & Nut, Ugly Drinks and Livia’s Kitchen.

There is also the opportunity for retail pitching with senior buyers from Ocado, Sainsbury’s, Morrisons, Whole Food Market, Holland & Barrett, Planet Organic, Selfridges, As Nature Intended and CostCo, along with VC speed-dating called Meet the Funder.

A Dragon’s Den style programme called Pitch to Win will also play out at the festival. Pitch to Win will see six start-ups sell their concept to a panel of industry experts including Pippa Murray, founder of Pip & Nut, Rebecca Wicks from Sainsburys, Sunna Van Kampen, who heads up LVK and Adam Arnold, who started Brandality. One winner will walk away with a prize valued at over £32,000, including branding, sales and legal support, a private meeting with Sainsbury’s category buyer, mentoring from Murray, and an exhibition stand at The Speciality Fine Food Fair. Applications to pitch are still open.

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