Trend Forecasting Fundamentals, with a Focus on Barbecue Trends


Predicting the future of food and beverage is key to aligning new products with consumer expectations. Here's how we uncovered emerging barbecue trends, using methods that can be applied to any market

Barbecue season brings with it burgers, ribs and new and unexpected takes on the BBQ tradition. To give customers the insights needed to develop sauces, products and dishes that align with the latest “it” flavours and preparations, Kerry’s meat team—including research, development and applications; culinary chefs; marketing; business development and sales—recently joined forces to predict the biggest barbecue trends of the season.

This trend forecasting process, which involved compiling data from sources ranging from sales figures to food stall menus, in many ways mirrors Kerry’s method for trend forecasting across categories. While we have a large team of staff to aid in these, companies of all sizes and levels of maturity can follow this roadmap for collecting insights. As you begin to identify consumer demand and explore opportunities for growth in retail and foodservice, this methodology can give you the information you need to make informed predictions.

Trend Forecasting Source #1: Secondary Research

The journey typically starts by sorting through secondary research. With barbecue, the first task was to find consensus on the size of the barbecue market in 2018 versus 2017 from retail and category perspectives. Through number crunching and comparisons, we determined that the retail market in the UK experienced a growth of approximately 15% overall—from £662m to approximately £780m, year over year. Next we sought to determine the cause of this increase. One possible explanation was anecdotal—Brits were exposed to a surprising amount of sunshine in 2017, compared to the previous year. But our analysts also determined that an increased variety of barbecue offerings contributed to the growth of the market; our insights team found that across categories, well-traveled consumers are the new norm, and they tend to have better developed palettes and are more open to new and experimental tastes.

Trend Forecasting Source #2: Product Profiles

To understand the retail landscape for barbecue, we needed to discover which categories were widely available and which needed to be developed. We reviewed the offerings at ten major UK retailers, scouring shelves and noting everything from portion size and taste to packaging. We saw that manufacturers were responding to the well-known cross-category consumer demand for provenance and origin claims by splaying this information across packaging. We also saw a number of different ethnic flavour influences across proteins as well as a variety of smouldering smoke offerings.

Trend Forecasting Source #3: Mainstream and Unconventional Menus

“Eat the Streets” is Kerry’s research-driven food safari and a tool we often use to provide customers with inspiration for innovation. For this research, two separate teams reviewed barbecue restaurants and street food stalls in two locations—Bristol, UK, and Copenhagen, Denmark—to uncover flavour, taste and texture trends.

On these gastronomic tours, unusual menu options were ordered, sampled and analysed. Common trends and unique innovations were catologued in each location. By combining insights from both destinations, we were able to paint a clearer picture of the new, bigger, better and bolder barbecue ideas entering the market, such as extremely flavourful ethnic preparations, many of which hadn’t yet entered the mainstream consciousness.

Trend Forecasting Source #4: New Media

The influence of social media and other unconventional information sources can’t be underestimated when it comes to helping trends emerge and spread. To shed light on what’s influencing consumers’ buying and consumption habits now—and highlight what niche trends may propel the market forward—we dug deep to find the social media influencers and posts having the most impact on barbecue trends. We also looked to other influential sources of knowledge sharing, such as documentaries.

We inventoried macro- and micro-trends, including barbecue-specific techniques and flavors as well as the ways general industry trends, such as plant-based protein, are discussed on social media and in print and film. Some of this information echoed our findings in current packaging concepts—that consumers want to feel connected to their food and that origin and provenance are key factors in helping to build a product story. This underscored the importance of appealing to consumers who want barbecue foods produced ethically and safely without compromising on delicious and exciting taste.

Trend Forecasting Source #5: Scientific Capabilities

Food science innovations—from new ways to seal in flavour to better and faster cooking methods—can also help propel a trend from a niche market to mainstream. We approached a few of our food scientists to ask about new advances that could affect the future of barbecue, given the current marketplace and our new insights. We also checked to see what new capabilities were being requested by customers, as this, too, is a telling sign of what’s coming next.

Freshness was one area deemed especially important to the barbecue market as it moves forward. New technologies that help ensure taste throughout the product lifecycle may be integral to the foundation of new products, including solutions that help maintain taste and texture in packaged products, those served at QSRs and everything in between.

This step-by-step overview provides a glimpse of the total insights collected around barbecue trends. To learn more about our research on barbecue trends and capabilities, see our Meat, Poultry and Seafood applications page. To learn about other proprietary research and insights, contact Kerry.


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