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The opportunities in an ever-changing world

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In our 2022 Annual Report, we consider the ways in which the food and beverage market is constantly evolving, shaped by the world around us. From a source of nutrition to a foundation for healthy living, pleasure and celebration, food means different things to different people.

The world around us

THE WAY WE LIVE, WORK AND EAT IS CHANGING

The Covid-19 pandemic has had a major impact on the way we live, work and eat, as well as directly affecting our health. The increase in online shopping, more flexible working practices and a greater awareness of personal hygiene and health are just some of the trends that are likely to stay. Some of the factors which were driving changes in people’s lifestyles before the pandemic, such as population growth, urbanisation, climate change and the greater use of technology, are still with us and some have been accelerated by it.

Lockdown measures changed the way we ate and drank, with most people cooking and eating their meals at home – and the habit of home deliveries seems to be staying with us. After two years of constraint and restricted choices, consumers are ready to embrace the world once again and have returned to cafés, pubs and restaurants, although the balance between eating out and eating at home is yet to find its new level – and the cost-of-living crisis in many countries may affect this balance in the short term. Long-term trends such as the shift towards greater convenience seem to be continuing, particularly as people’s hectic lives resume. Amongst all these moving parts, one aspect – an increased focus on health and wellbeing – has remained constant. It’s clear that the pandemic has focused people’s minds on their personal wellbeing and the importance of maintaining a healthier diet and lifestyle.

The desire for healthier food is also driving a desire to be more in control of what people eat and drink. They want to be empowered to make their own choices and for their values to be reflected in the choices they make. For example, transparency on sustainability credentials, product claims and labelling are three areas of consumer focus. The use of technology and access to information on social media and other digital platforms are also increasingly affecting purchasing behaviour.

Focus on health and wellbeing

No matter where you look, societies and governments are facing significant food and health-related challenges. In today’s more urbanised world, people are leading less active ways of life, a situation made worse by lockdowns during the pandemic. People are generally eating too much and moving too little, an unbalanced lifestyle which affects their health. The incidence of obesity and diabetes, and concerns about digestive health and immunity, are increasing rapidly. For example, it is estimated that there are approximately 537 million adults in the world living with diabetes. This is expected to grow to 783 million by 20451.

Healthcare costs are rising over the longer term, placing health services in many countries under increased pressure. Governments continue to introduce policies and initiatives to support healthier choices when it comes to food and drink. These include front-of-pack labelling in Latin America, with warnings about the level of sugar, fat and salt in foods; and UK restaurants, cafés and takeaways having to provide calorie labels on the food they sell. Over-consumption of sugar is a major concern, and over 502 national governments have introduced a ‘sugar tax’, while more than two-thirds of consumers are looking to reduce their sugar consumption over the next year3.

Convenience and home cooking

Before the pandemic, people’s more hectic lifestyles were causing a long-term shift towards greater convenience and timesaving ways of eating. As the world emerges from the pandemic, convenience remains important, but the pandemic has undoubtedly had an impact on food purchasing and consumption behaviour.

For example, working from home has meant that people are eating together more, cooking more, and snacking and grazing more often.

Connecting the planet with food choices

Concern for our planet and its natural resources, particularly the need to tackle climate change, is increasing rapidly and this concern is affecting people’s food choices in many ways. People are increasingly aware of the environmental impact of what they consume. Demand for plant-based food is growing, as people adopt vegan, vegetarian or ‘flexitarian’ diets, cutting back on meat amid concerns for their health and the effects of animal farming on the environment. And they’re also wanting to know exactly what goes into the food they eat and where it comes from, examining labels more closely and looking for simpler or ‘more natural’ ingredients.

And it’s not just the food that’s important – environmental concerns mean that the packaging needs to be sustainable too.

THE OPPORTUNITY FOR TATE & LYLE

For food companies like Tate & Lyle, these global trends present both opportunities and challenges. During the pandemic, we had to adapt to changing consumer needs as people moved away from eating in restaurants and bars to buying more food from retail outlets to eat at home. And as out-of-home consumption recovered, we adapted again to ensure our business continued to meet changing consumer demand.

As a global leader in sweetening, mouthfeel and fortification, we are very well placed to benefit from growing global consumer demand for food and drink which is lower in sugar, calories and fat, and has more fibre. At the same time, we are working to take care of our planet and are helping to protect its natural resources.

As a plant-based ingredients business, the combination of increasing awareness of climate change and the recognition of the importance of a healthy lifestyle is a particular opportunity. Our goal is not just to feed people, but to feed them well.

1 IDF Diabetes Atlas 2021, tenth edition.
2 Obesity Evidence Hub.
3 Tate & Lyle Proprietary Global Ingredients Perception Research, 2020/21.

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