"I’m often asked to comment on global food, drink and diet trends and what impact these will have on our supermarket shelves in the future. It’s hard sometimes to decipher between a quick-fire fad or a long-term megatrend.

We also have to consider whether dietary trends from overseas will work with Kiwi lifestyles or our taste palates. Not all products that resonate well in other countries work here, such as cricket flour, so far Kiwis don’t seem too keen, but I guess we’ll wait and see.

Global diet trends do certainly impact new product development and the sales of certain products. Some run hot for a couple of years like eating for your blood-type or the Atkins diet, whilst others resonate a lot longer like paleo, gluten-free, vegan and more recently keto.  The popularity of these global trends has seen both major international food companies and smaller local suppliers bringing out new products to cater for the increased demand.

The move towards vegan and vegetarian diets has seen fantastic product launches, like Magnum and Cornetto vegan ice cream at Countdown. Paleo cereal and keto bread are flying off our shelves.

Products that help support digestive wellness continue to resonate with consumers across the world and here as well.  We’re seeing double-digit growth for fermented foods and drinks like kombucha, kimchi and switchel, as well as probiotics in yoghurt or cereals. We are constantly reviewing our range and we’re set to expand our offering even further as several kefir drinks will start to appear on our shelves soon. Kefir has previously been found in some of our yoghurt products, but the drinks are extremely popular in other countries and it’s my prediction they’re the next ‘it’ product when it comes to gut health.

We already know that health and wellness is a mega trend across the globe. And concerns for the planet and the environment are also driving changes in our diets. Both here and globally there is a growing popularity for vegan and vegetarian meal solutions.  We’ve certainly seen this within our sales data and the percentage of vegan customers has doubled in the last year.   We’re certainly not saying that all Kiwis are becoming vegetarians, we do still love to create a meal based around meat, however, in recent years we’ve seen more of our customers adopt a flexitarian-based diet where they actively choose to have meat-free days and plant-based meals instead.

We’re seeing lots of exciting product development in this space and I think this will continue, especially as more and more experts promote diet changes as a critical part of addressing changes in our climate.

We’re also starting to see, particularly out of Asia, an increase in new products that claim to help prevent ageing.  Food producers are taking their inspiration from the beauty industry and focusing on inner health and wellbeing.  Products that can help people of all ages improve their bone, joint and brain health, as well as proactively address other age-related health concerns such as relaxation, stress and sleeping, will certainly continue to grow in popularity.

And then of course there is convenience; society is time-poor and we’re all looking for a healthy and quick meal solution. Reading about trends of the future, global innovators are now looking to harness artificial intelligence to find us easy meal solutions.

It begs the question, would you trust your phone to plan all your meals and order your groceries for the week?  I think that many of us would probably jump at this opportunity, particularly if it included cooking the meals as well.  Anything is possible.”