Food + Fashion, Home Bar, NFT Mania, Pizza Buzz…
In the spotlight
👜🍊 Food + Fashion : the Power Duo?
The links between fashion and gastronomy have never been so strong. For several years now, luxury brands have been opening more and more restaurants or cafés within their points of sale. The latest examples include the Louis Vuitton chocolaterie in Tokyo, the Gucci cocktail bar in Florence and the Monsieur Dior table in Paris. The trend is even giving rise to new concepts, such as the workshop offered by British designer Stella McCartney at Le Bon Marché, where the presentation of the new collection is accompanied by a vegan cooking workshop. "In an experience economy, memories are precious goods," says Alasdair Lennox, executive creative director at retail design consultancy Fitch, in this Design Week article. Taste, the enhancer of brand memorabilia? Fashion, the new standard for food values and communities?
Fashion >> Food: Fashion brands continue to break into the food world. If Patagonia launched its "Patagonia Provisions" food range a decade ago, The Pangaia has recently distinguished itself by inaugurating Pangaia Superfoods. For its first drop, the brand imagined an energy bar that ticks all its ethical boxes. The result: a carbon neutral product thanks to responsibly sourced ingredients and biodegradable packaging. The added bonus is that each box purchased helps finance the planting of about one square meter of flowers to preserve the survival of bees. But the complicity between the two sectors can also take on other aspects, like these Adidas sneakers made from mushrooms or these dresses made from banana fibers. Soon we will be eating our clothes... which seems to be under study according to the Scandinavian food designer Katja Gruijters. In her April newsletter, she explained that she has been commissioned to develop an edible fabric for a major brand. To be continued.
Food >> Fashion: Food tends to become a real fashion addict. Taco Bell, McDonald's, Burger King... Many fast food actors have launched their own wardrobes. The phenomenon is spreading to restaurants and DTC brands (Fancy Sprinkles, Square Root, Poppy…), which are increasingly quick to market their merchandise with design products and enticing copywriting. The goal? To reinforce the sense of belonging and build strong community approaches. The Liquid Death water brand, for example, is playing the storytelling card to the hilt by encouraging its consumers to "sell their souls" by joining their community. The result: exclusive merchandising. The plant-based milk brand Oatly focuses on dropping vintage pieces to further strengthen its green DNA. The drop sold out in record time and the profits from the operation were donated to a non-profit organization. Note that thanks to upcycling, food brands can also create added value by making textile collections from their byproducts, like Groceries Apparel.
Supermarkets and grocery stores are also undergoing a transformation. These retail spaces tend to adopt visual merchandising worthy of fashion boutiques more and more. In the Foxtrot or Pop up grocer concept stores, shopping has never been so glamorous, while azure blue lattes and glittery popcorn are highlighted on ultra design shelves. The fashion/deco/art trio is becoming more and more united, like Nonna's Grocer, a concept store inspired by the founders' great-grandparents' print store offering hyper-realistic fruit and vegetable candles designed to create a new ritual during meals. Another curiosity is Dada Daily, whose motto is to bring "decadence to the table" by mixing the sale of functional objects and unconventional snacks like cauliflower popcorn or honey-glazed Umami nuts.
From Vincent van Gogh's "Potato Eaters" to Paul Cézanne's "Oranges" to Andy Warhol's Campbell's soup can, food has always fed aesthetic codes rooted in mass culture. In the time of social network, the adage "to devour with the eyes" seems to have beautiful days ahead...
🍕Pizza: a slice of reinvention.
Mamma Mia! With 800 million units consumed on average per year, France is the world's second largest pizza market, just behind the USA. According to a Gira Conseil study dated 2020, the French would consume twice as much pizza as hamburgers and 40 times more than sushi.
While popular, pizza has also become a playground for star chefs. In 2013, the Gambero Rosso, the Italian equivalent of the Michelin Guide, had already unveiled a volume dedicated to pizzerias, classifying them in three categories: Neapolitan, Italian and gourmet, giving pride of place to experimentation. Today, this quest for originality tends to integrate the healthy, sustainable and/or vegan movement around recipes where the flour is, for example, reformulated with cauliflower, chickpeas, eggplant, sweet potato or squash. In this premiumization of the market, other evolutions are taking shape. Take a look.
The home-made pizza revolution. Ooni, Breville, Gozney: so many companies that have allowed individuals to become real pizzaiolos. Whether indoors or outdoors, these pizza ovens have seen their sales soar during the lockdown. In an interview with Fast Company, the Scottish brand Ooni showed a growth of +300 percent in 2020 weighted by a stockout during four months. Beyond the rise of a whole new generation of semi-professional cooking materials, a real movement is taking shape to make the entire value chain accessible. In Europe, Gustini is now targeting individual consumers by marketing its traditional flour in one-kilo formats, compared to 25 kilos previously. In the US, Central Milling — a joint venture involving 13-time Pizza Cup winner Tony Gemignani — is offering its own premium versions. And the phenomenon is set to continue, according to trends detected by Eurostar Commodities. This British ingredient supplier predicts the future success of flours such as Pinsa Romana — to create Roman-style recipes — or even bases made from pre- and probiotics. The same logic applies to tomato sauces and it would not be surprising to see the emergence of e-shops offering other ingredients now accessible to all. In view of the recent badbuzz encountered by the industrialist Buitoni in France, it is likely that the craze for homemade pizza will continue to grow. In fact, the subreddit dedicated to pizza has increased by +60 percent in the last two years, going from 228K to 364K members between January 2020 and 2022. While Redditors used to publish their opinions on restaurants' pizzas, most of the posts are now about homemade recipes. Ready to get your hands dirty?
The automated pizza boom. Workforce shortages, rising ingredient costs... what if the solution lay in pizza robots? The phenomenon is gaining momentum as start-ups, both franchised and owned, multiply. At Pizza Forno, the dough is made inside the machine: once it is rolled out, it is covered with sauce, cheese and another topping before being heated. One of these machines can hold up to 70 refrigerated pizzas and serve them either hot or cold. Another example is Piestro, whose dispenser prepares and bakes fresh pizzas on demand. Notably, the company has raised over $5 million through equity crowdfunding and is preparing to raise another $20 million. Special mention for the resto-robot-pizza models, such as the Pazzi franchise or the Israeli start-up Hyper Robotics, which aim to create fully autonomous fast food chains. With these machines, it is now very easy for any business to have an automated food point requiring little maintenance and a source of additional income. Two strong arguments.
The icing on the pizza? Placer Robotics, which, in addition to having allowed Aldi to launch its exclusive Pizzabot, is planning the launch of a crypto-currency, the "Pizzabot coin."
🍴NFTs are taking a seat at the table.
According to DappRadar, the NFT market — digital tokens based on blockchain technology with the main characteristic of being non-copyable and non-interchangeable — generated $23 billion in trades in 2021. Another notable figure: on Google, there has been an average of seven million monthly queries for the acronym since March 2021, a date that more or less corresponds to the introduction of the term into the mainstream vocabulary.
While a brand used to be defined by its products, services and values, the emergence of digitalization — and in particular Web3 — tends to change this. More and more, the brand tends to be defined by the nature and influence of its community. At once an experience driver, a loyalty tool and an investment support, NFTs makes it possible to rethink the engagement links between the brand and the consumer by reinjecting the oh-so-strategic notion of ownership. Let's take a closer look at four pioneering models that have already seduced the food world.
1. The NFT Membership, to reinforce exclusivity.
A first use case concerns NFT in the form of a subscription (purely transactional) or membership (transactional AND relational). The idea? Reinforce the feeling of belonging and exclusivity. A key example is the Bored Breakfast Club, 5,000 breakfast sketches sold in NFT form. These serve as membership tokens and, thanks to a partnership with the New York Times favorite Yes Plz, will allow fresh coffee to be delivered anywhere in the world. A new coffee blend is launched each time the community wallet, which is funded in part by royalties from the sales of these NFTs on the secondary market, reaches a certain threshold. Membership should soon unlock other benefits like access to events or exclusive coffee batches.
This model is becoming more and more popular, as illustrated by the Eve bar launched by chef Adam Handling in London. Here, an NFT cocktail menu offers fans access to recipes and free drinks within the establishment. Another example is VCR Group's Flyfish Club. Announced for 2023, the concept requires ownership of a specific NFT to access the physical restaurant. New menus and exclusive experiences will be offered to members depending on the level of rarity of their NFT.
2. The Redeemable NFT, to certify authenticity and ownership.
Another use of NFTs is to verify ownership, a notion that makes sense for vintage wines, champagnes and other spirits. And if we can imagine operations carried out by brands themselves, the marketplace offer can be interesting. One platform in particular seems to stand out: BlockBar is targeting spirits and associates an NFT with a physical bottle that is stored until the token holder claims it. Most notably, in October, the platform partnered with scotch brand Glenfiddich to mint NFTs linked to 15 bottles of a 1973 scotch. Starting price? 18,000 dollars. The Dalmore also called on BlockBar to put a 33-year-old cask of Pauillac Premier Grand Cru Classé Finish single malt Scotch whisky on sale, presented as 223 NFTs. Another example is the Cloudwine presale, a series of NFTs supported by a very limited allocation of Taittinger champagne and other exclusive privileges.
This model is particularly interesting in terms of added value for producers, large domains and others. Explanations: when a player markets wine, he has the upper hand on the primary market. However, if the bottle increases in value over time, he no longer controls this secondary market. NFTs allow him to charge royalties in the form of commissions on future resales.
3. The NFT for Community Co-creation…
A third use case is one that allows a collective to co-create a brand. The American beverage brand DTC Leisure Project, for example, has minted a limited series of NFTs that will allow buyers to co-create the brand with them. Holders of these NFTs can also apply for a "Creators and Doers Grant" that offers business funding and mentoring opportunities. In this interview, founder Steve Michaelsen shares his vision, "When we talk about co-creating the future of the brand, we mean building a brand that mutually encourages our NFT holders to engage and support leisure over time. The strongest and most relevant brands of all time have always been rooted in the needs of a community. However, today's consumers want to be more involved in how brands manifest and grow over time for their community. NFTs and Web3 are fundamentally changing the game, which is why we believe the brands we will know and love tomorrow will be co-created by the communities that consume their products and services."
... and towards a new generation of brands?
Stretching the Leisure Project concept a bit, one can imagine new brands founded and operated by NFT holders. This is the case with the Bored & Hungry restaurant: Andy Nguyen, happy holder of one of the very popular Bored Ape NFTs, has decided to take advantage of the exploitation license granted by the purchase of the precious token (Ape n°6184 bought for 90 ETH or nearly 260 K€) to open a chain of restaurants under his ape’s look and feel. Other community models could follow thanks to the DAO (Decentralized Autonomous Organization), a form of organization established on the blockchain and owned by the people who contributed to create and finance it.
Some examples? FriesDAO, which hopes to offer holders of its tokens the ability to own a piece of a fast food franchise like Popeye's, Burger King or Taco Bell. We can also consider Dinner DAO and its slogan, "Let's pitch in and have meals together." Meanwhile, Gmgn supply wants to create the first CPG brand holding company operated via a DAO with a first NFT "drop" for a cereal brand. "The future of brands lies in people having a say and the ability to receive value in return from their fandom," summarizes Jordan Castro, co-founder of Doodles.
4. Play-to-Earn (P2E), for foodtertainment...
We have already talked several times about the synergies between gaming and food via the rise of games such as Nainai’s Recipe, Venba or Nour. The same goes for cookbooks inspired by video games like Tomb Raider, Assassin's Creed and Final Fantasy. Today, the food sector is riding the play-to-earn wave. In broad terms, this terminology refers to games based on the blockchain. Here, users have access to the ownership of assets: by playing, they increase their value and participate in the game's economy, creating value for developers and other players, ultimately being rewarded themselves. Some concrete examples? Big Town Chef, launched by chef Gino D'Acampo. This P2E game allows players to grow and trade virtual ingredients to participate in cooking competitions. Its Discord already has more than 19k members and reflects the birth of a community, which is essential to the growth of the concept. But ambitions sometimes go further than the metaverse... OneRare is a P2E game dedicated to chefs, brands, restaurants and producers. The idea? The foodverse: create virtual experiences by collecting ingredients and following recipes that they can mine. There are also games to interact with foodistas around the world.
... and to create new phygital experiences.
As OneRare develops, users will also be able to exchange their NFTs for meals and other experiences, products or services in the physical world. An important element and a challenge for P2E is building experiences that blend physical and digital. Specializing in virtual and augmented reality, Jess Herrington launched Fresh Hot Delicious in 2020, a restaurant entirely dedicated... to virtual desserts. The idea? Each dessert exists as an AR filter on Instagram, accessible for free. As in any IRL restaurant, the "desserts" are exhausted after a certain time. Users can play freely with their filters until they are deactivated. This feeds exclusivity and the Fear of Missing Out... Translated into the P2E universe, we could thus imagine games that activate limited menus or products in the real world. And why not take inspiration from move-to-earn, with projects like Dustland Runner where players are rewarded for completing activities in the physical world? Will there soon be "cook-to-earn" or "eat-to-earn" operations with coupons, loyalty points and other cashback to reinforce engagement and loyalty? As you can see, the challenge lies in giving the online experience a tangible and genuine taste.
We should keep in mind that, of course, the market is still in its infancy but the opportunities are there. To stand out from the crowd, one should not hesitate to combine the possibilities offered by NFTs. For example, the success of the Bored Apes, which allows its holder — well beyond owning a virtual work in the effigy of a monkey — to have access to a membership, giving rise to exclusive benefits and having commercial use rights. And that's not all: the more active the community is, the more valuable and rewarding the project becomes. As you can see, the more use cases associated with an NFT, the more its value becomes tangible.
❄️The premiumization of the frozen food market
As reported by trend consultancy Stylus, the frozen food market experienced a worldwide boom during the pandemic: +21% in the US in 2020 according to AFFI, +31% in Spain or +30% in Italy according to a YouGov study in 2021. Germany, the UK and France accounted for more than 50% of sales in Europe. On Google, queries for "freezer" soared worldwide with peaks of 1.8 million in March and April 2020. While today these queries have returned to normal levels — about 823k per month — the increase is still +23% compared to 2019, reflecting new habits.
The evolution of uses is taking place on several fronts. First of all, the traditional players in the frozen food industry are now adapting their product ranges according to trends: keto, vegan, allergen-free, carbon neutral, etc. At the same time, we are seeing an increase in the number of DTC brands, particularly in the US and the UK, in the premium frozen food segment. Ipsa Provisions and By Ruby offer gourmet frozen meals, while All Plants and Mosaic Foods focus on vegan alternatives. The latter brand also offers a Mosaic + range designed with chefs to guarantee a "restaurant quality food" label, as does In Good Company, which is reinventing packaging in returnable aluminum boxes. In France, Picard wants to establish itself as "the leader in French gastronomy at home" by making its points of sale more intimate with tasting counters, upright freezers and windows open to the outside.
This premiumization of frozen food, which opens the door to new competition, could even infiltrate company restaurants. Indeed, with the rise of telecommuting, companies are looking for more flexible offers and start-ups that offer connected fridges such as NU !, Foodles or Baobab Lab could take advantage of the situation.
For the more skeptical, evangelism is taking its course. In "Ice Kitchen," chef and food writer Shivi Ramoutar offers recipes designed to be prepared in two portions: one for immediate consumption, the other for freezing. Ashley Christensen's “Always Freezer Season” teaches how to freeze like a chef. Special mention for "Freeze" from By Ruby, specialized in gourmet frozen meals.
🍹Home Bar & Cocktail Mania.
Recently, The Telegraph mentioned the 2022 trend report from Rated People, a British marketplace that connects homeowners with local tradesmen. Surprise: among the equipment priorities cited by the respondents, the construction of a home bar ranks sixth, ahead of the installation of a gym or a kitchen. This is a finding shared to the Telegraph by interior designer Carden Cunietti. Audry Carden said that while their clients are rediscovering the pleasure of going out to bars and restaurants, they also want to be able to entertain at home in an atmosphere worthy of a "real" establishment. “I think people are trying to secure the future of their own entertainment," says Carden, who links this trend to the health and social uncertainties created by the pandemic. Google queries make this trend clearer: "Home bar" was typed 74K times in February 2019 worldwide, compared to 110K in February 2022, not counting the peaks recorded during periods of lockdown or curfew.
And he who says bar says recipes. "Cocktail recipes" generated 246K queries in December 2020 and December 2021, nearly three times as many as in previous years and that's not counting specific queries. Soda for spirits, salts, shakers and other kits for budding mixologists are also booming as the query "Cocktail shaker" jumped +122 percent on Google between December 2019 and December 2021.
This has inspired new uses and products. Do you know the pod machine has been revisited with a cocktail twist? Bartesian is the brand of the moment: its machines are sold for around 350 dollars, while a pack of eight non-alcoholic pods costs around 20 dollars. This leading position is reinforced by the fact that Drinkworks Home Bar by Keuring has suddenly announced the end of the commercialization of its machine, only a few months after its launch. While no explanation was given, one has to wonder if the Nespresso cocktail market is set to take hold. Note that semantic queries close to "Cocktail maker" / "Cocktail machine" accumulate on average nearly 40K searches each month.
Still, artisanal solutions are there to counter any possible rejection of the robotized offer. DTC brands are multiplying, like Haus' hyper-designed starter kits, Cocktail Club, subscription, Tip Top premium cocktails in cans, Craftmix cocktail powders, Sayso infusion bags or Stir-Up’s subscription-based bottles. The same dynamics are at work in the hand-crafted sector: in France, mixologist Victoire has launched Bons Bonnes, which delivers homemade cocktails in five-liter containers.
Finally, let's not forget the "sober curious" movement that we have already talked about, which brings many opportunities: everything, or almost everything, remains to be reinvented. An example? Combining trends under the scientific-functional prism. For example, Good Idea is a naturally flavored sparkling water that contains amino acids, chromium, and helps balance blood sugar when consumed just before and during a meal. Just launched in Sweden and the U.S., the brand is the result of research conducted at the Lund University Diabetes Food Center. Good Idea is a subsidiary of Aventure AB, run by the Öste brothers, the founders of Oatly. Healthy cocktails coming soon?
🥖Bread goes all-in on the functional side
While bread making has been a star activity during the pandemic, it seems that ancestral methods and other healthier recipes are making a comeback. In January and February 2019, the Google query "sourdough" was typed on average 110k times per month. During lockdown, this query increased fivefold. In January and February 2022, there were 201K monthly searches, still nearly double compared to pre-pandemic levels. The same dynamics can be seen on Reddit where the number of r/sourdough subscribers has increased threefold since 2020.
In the USA, the Orlando baking brand emphasizes the health benefits of its industrial bread with probiotics. The British company Modern Baker, for its part, has set itself the mission of making healthy bread and pastry products available to everyone, notably by offering "superloaf smart bread," a sourdough-based recipe rich in fiber and probiotics. The Happy Tummy Co in Ireland is doing the same thing with its wholemeal breads made with chia and teff sourdough, which are said to promote intestinal health. Finally, mention should be made of the Spanish gluten-free bread brand Zealia, which has developed ranges that target health problems such as Neuro+ with ingredients including magnesium and omega 3 to stimulate brain function, Immune+ with echinacea or Body+ for people who are sporty.
At the same time, there is also a strengthening of the health arguments related to refined foods. Kerry, a leading food company, recently launched Emulgold™ Fibre, a naturally occurring soluble fiber ingredient. This innovation is said to provide up to 300 percent more fiber per serving, approximating the fiber content of whole wheat while maintaining the taste and consistency that makes white bread so appealing.
This approach is similar to that of the professional bakery brand Bridor (Leduff Group), which is expanding its "Mieux être" range of breads that include "Legumi," made with vegetables, or "Amibiote," a baguette with a unique combination of 7 soluble and insoluble fibers with prebiotic effects: oat bran, micronized wheat bran, oat flakes, pectin, wheat dextrin, locust bean gum, and inulin. Its "Naked" pastries are made exclusively with ingredients of natural origin: ascorbic acid, for example, is replaced by acerola, rich in vitamin C. This is yet another sign that food-as-a-medicine is well on its way to developing on a large scale and competing with niche players.
Short stories from the bar counter.
What about the future of Chefclub? Chefclub was recently featured in Variety and this amazing article explains how we’ve been growing far beyond social media by building content and IP.
News that will make you bananas. According to Forbes, the banana, the second most consumed tropical fruit in the world, generates 3.5 million tons of waste per year. The pain point ? Banana peels contain carbon-rich organic compounds that can take two years to decompose. The solution? Cook them. Because yes: they are not only edible, but also rich in vitamins and minerals. The Forbes article cites the reuse of banana peels or Aya Comfort Food, while many producers and start-ups are playing around in this segment, such as Dope Dry Munchies, which offers dried banana snacks — including peels — via Etsy, or whiskey, flour, tea or "Banana Peel Bread" inspired by this trend, with recipes multiplying online.
Hot stuff! In December, Google saw 673K queries worldwide for "hot chocolate," an increase of +123% compared to December 2019. The movement is just as palpable on TikTok with 1.5 billion views for #Hotchocolate and 7.5 million views for #Hot_chocolate. And that's without counting the variations around challenges and recipes... Among the trends, we find the "champurrado," a spicy and particularly frothy Mexican hot chocolate, the hot chocolate bombs — whether they are home made or not, like those of Cocoa Bombs — or the chocolate lollipops to melt. Not to mention the craze for the Velvetiser, a high-end hot chocolate machine. The Guardian is also reporting on the phenomenon, detailing how premium hot chocolate is changing the habits of British people who are tired of coffee. The media mentions the success of Knoops and its range of more than 20 recipes for chocolate flakes!
The curiosity corner. In the round-up of the most surprising food brands of the moment, let's mention Crackerology and its new generation of cracker kits: sweet or savory version, the appetizer takes a new twist. In another genre, we found Sweet Nothings and its spoonable frozen smoothie. As for Funky Mello, it offers to replace traditional yoghurts with a marshmallow cream with an airy texture and clean ingredients. Finally, let's mention Reveal, an unusual drink brewed from avocado seeds, rich in probiotics and antioxidants.
Food in the face of war. Cook For Ukraine is an Instagram account held by two friends, Olia Hercules and Alissa Timoshkina. One is Ukrainian, the other Russian, and both are passionate foodistas. Here, it's all about cooking and sharing traditional Ukrainian dishes. On Google, the demand is strong: there are 301K requests in march for the recipe "borscht," three times more than before the war. Could there soon be an expansion of Ukrainian food offerings across the world? Migrations have always allowed for the internationalization of the cuisine in the host countries and the introduction of new flavors.
Unusual seasonings. The trend is definitely towards "all seasoning," i.e., seasoning everything with hot sauces, spices and other edible flowers. An opportunity to (re)discover unusual or forgotten herbs. Banana mint, lemon mint, basil mint... Although still modest, Google queries for these variations have doubled or tripled in the last two years.