Demand for finger foods is benefiting from prevailing trends in both the retail and foodservice sectors, reports Jonathan Thomas.
The future for manufacturers and retailers of both frozen and chilled finger foods appears to be highly promising. Much of this is due to the fact that eating habits of consumers in parts of the world such as Western Europe continue to evolve, where the emphasis has steadily switched from regular mealtimes to irregular eating throughout the day – and, in some circumstances, during the evening and/or night. This trend has aided demand for smaller meals and food portions suitable for sharing in social occasions, whether in the home or within a foodservice establishment.
Growth within the category has also resulted from the greater consumer interest in different types of food, many of which are inspired by various ethnic cuisines from around the globe. As such, the market for finger foods is no longer made up solely of the traditional favorites such as chicken nuggets, potato skins and vol-au-vents. Nevertheless, these continue to retain a strong and loyal following, as can be illustrated by the variety of foods typically eaten during major television occasions such as the Super Bowl in the U.S. Although this phenomenon remains particular to the U.S. market, recent evidence suggests more European consumers are gravitating towards various finger foods suitable for particular occasions or experiences, whether in the home or when eating out.
The Home as an Entertainment Venue
One of the main growth drivers for frozen snacks and appetizers of late has been the continued popularity of socializing in the home with friends and family, rather than going out. According to a 2017 report from drinks manufacturer Diageo, the home is fast becoming a destination for socializing in its own right across much of the western world. While much of this has been driven by the emergence of increasingly successful food delivery apps (e.g. Just Eat, Deliveroo and Uber Eats), it can also be attributed to the dramatic growth of in-home entertainment, as evidenced by the rising penetration of TV services such as Netflix and Amazon Prime.
As of the start of 2019, for example, Amazon claimed that around 100 million Alexa-enabled devices for smart homes had been sold. During 2018, the number of people talking to Alexa each day doubled, while developers have now built over 70,000 skills into the devices. Future technological advances are likely to lead to the emergence of more virtual reality entertainment systems, thereby opening up even more new ways of socializing and interacting with people in the home.
To read the complete article, please refer to the May-June 2019 print issue of Frozen Food Magazine Europe.