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What can we expect from the UK food industry in 2020?

July 3, 2024
Lukas Vanterpool

2019 saw the continuation of ‘conscious consumption’ popularity. From food and drink to personal care and household cleaning items, consumers were purchasing items from low-impact, sustainable supply chains, packaged in recyclable materials, from brands that followed through on their ethical or environmental claims. 

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So, what can we expect from the UK food industry in 2020? Read on to find out. 

On-the-go is on-the-rise 

The health-conscious consumer will, by now, have become comfortable with the changes they made to their diet and lifestyle in 2019, and are likely to be looking for a convenient, yet nutritious, way to snack. 

In previous years, snacks have always been considered to be unhealthy. However, brands have been quick to react to consumer demands in the last 5 years, introducing nutritious, pre-portioned, high-protein snacking options to the market. 

Research by Grand View claims that the global healthy snacks market will rise by 5.2% to more than £24 billion in 2020. With a focus on plant-based snacks, these will include high-protein plant-based options. Puffed snacks are predicted to be a big snacking trend in 2020, too. 


Sugar content will continue to lower 

Continuing with the theme of conscious consumption, the demand for low-sugar foods is sustained into 2020. As consumers become more educated about their health – and the ingredients, fat and sugar content in foods – the demand for more nutritionallybeneficial food grows.  

We can see that brands are already responding to this. Statistics from England’s public health body show that there has been a 2.9% decrease in the sugar content of store-bought brands in the last four years.  

While we have seen a huge shift in the sugar content in the bottled drinks industry, confectionery brands are now following suit, reviewing their offerings. For example, Cadbury’s iconic Dairy Milk can now be found in a 30% less sugar version. We expect there will be a number of other brands that will release challenger products this year. 

Along with using well-known sugar alternatives such as stevia, there has been predictions that innovations in the syrups sector will see foods such as pomegranates and sweet potatoes used to create sweet alternatives.  


An effort to reduce waste and become sustainable 

Sustainability will continue to be a key focus throughout 2020, both for corporations, and consumers. There is a huge number of brands vying to be a part of the circular economy and producing less waste. A report from the ITE Group found that independent retailers in the UK are looking to increase the number of sustainable products they stock by 33% in 2020. 

Another survey reported that 62% of consumers said they want to purchase brands that are open and honest about their environmental impact, while a further 63% admitted they would stop buying brands that are harmful to the environment.  

When it comes to food waste, the scale of the problem has influenced organisations and governments to tackle the issue at both local and national levels. Fruit and vegetables account for almost 50% of the food we waste, with many being discarded for being ‘imperfect’.  

Some supermarkets have already introduced ‘wonkey veg’ type ranges. The restaurant industry is using innovative ways to reduce its wastage, too. Solutions include apps that offer heavily discounted meals to prevent food being thrown away, we expect these to become more popular throughout 2020. 


The reliance on digital assistants when it comes to food shopping 

With the number of households using digital assistants such as Google Assistant and Amazon’s Alexa continuing to grow, it should come as no surprise that the way consumers shop will change.  

An article in TechCrunch suggested that voice shopping is going to rise to around £30 million in the next two years in the UK and USA – a convenient way to buy our food and FMCG items. 

Further Reading:

The turning point will be for brands to determine how to leverage this opportunity to create closer, more loyal relationships with consumers and make themselves available through this new e-commerce channel. We’ll start to see savvy brands placing an emphasis on voice search now in order to secure orders as the use of voice e-commerce grows.  


Packaging will continue to be a hot topic 

Packaging has found itself on the consumer agenda since 2018 and will continue to be debated in 2020. 

It was the Blue Planet series that brought the environmental impact of plastic packaging into the limelight. Brands and retailers rapidly found themselves under fire, with many announcing pledges on packaging, looking to reduce the use of plastic, and include more recyclable contents.  

However, 2019 saw the issue of infrastructure come to light. The public became aware that plastic isn’t the enemy, it’s the way in which we dispose of it. In order to recover more plastic packaging, retailers are looking to introduce bottle return systems to recover PET plastic bottles to recycle, while packaging designers are designing innovative packaging with recyclability in mind.  


If one thing is for certain, we know that the UK food industry is a dynamic and responsive industry. Fuelled by innovation and exciting new product development, we look forward to the changes that will come with 2020. 

If you are looking to increase your food or FMCG offering in 2020, and require high-quality candidates from engineers to QA managers and technicians, contact a member of The Sterling Choice today 

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About The Author

Lukas Vanterpool

I started The Sterling Choice with Gareth Whyatt back in August 2013. We’ve always remained true to ourselves and what it is we’re trying to achieve – A great company with great people and great results! This journey never stops, we are always finding ways to support our colleagues and make sure they leave every day feeling fulfilled.

Over the years I’ve always been asked “what’s your USP??, what makes you different from all the other agencies??”. That’s an easy one for me to answer – “Our culture makes our business and our people make our culture”

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