Trends at Lunch! 2019

04OCT Trends at Lunch! 2019


A couple of weeks ago, we paid a visit to London’s ExCeL for lunch!, the UK’s food-to-go trade show. From packaging to snackaging, the diverse and dynamic food-to-go industry is a hotbed of exciting product development and innovation, so we’ve rounded up the top trends that we spotted at lunch! this year. 



Snack bars with bold nutritional claims such as high protein and low carb have been prominent in snacking for several years now but the trend isn’t waning. Established brands are developing new products for convenience which are portion controlled and more nutritionally transparent to tap in with health-conscious consumers. Another area is in premium meat snacks such as jerky which offer a high-protein satisfaction, aimed at those who adopt low-carb, ketogenic or paleo diets.


Perhaps the peak of the functionality trend is the growing choice of meal-replacement brands. Nutritionally complete and designed to replace entire meals, these products are marketed as the ultimate healthy and convenient choice for time-poor urbanites after a different kind of liquid lunch.


Low and no sugar

Particularly present in beverages since the sugar tax but visible across the whole sector, more and more brands are responding to consumers’ growing aversion to sugar-laden foods. Small chocolate, confectionary and spread brands which use sugar alternatives are booming and large manufacturers are tapping into the trend by introducing low sugar or sugar-free SKUs of familiar products.


The introduction of the sugar tax sparked a flurry of flavoured “seltzer” brands free of both sugar and sweeteners which aim to provide a more gentle, adult alternative to traditional soft drinks.



Plant-based diets are not only becoming more popular, but also more accommodated for by food brands attempting to latch onto the trend. Non-dairy milks have exploded in popularity as well as range, with new brands usually having a more premium feel to them compared to dairy milk which struggles with a more commodified image. Brands across the entire food sector are introducing vegan SKUs to their range, often positioned next to their meat and dairy counterparts, perfect for those who are vegan-curious.



Brand new for 2019 is CBD, the legal and non-psychoactive sibling of cannabis. Available on the high street, CBD can be bought as an oil for anxiety and pain relief but is now finding its way into food and drink products for consumers looking for a relaxing alternative to alcohol or caffeine. At lunch! this year, we spotted CBD in soft drinks as well as in chocolate and other confectionery. Time will tell as to whether CBD will last in the sector but with alcohol consumption on the decline, we think it’s more than a fad.


Plastic-free packaging

UK consumers are, on the whole, a lot more concerned about plastic pollution than they were several years ago and many brands have had to respond by changing their approach to packaging. Some snack bar brands have introduced products with compostable packaging instead of plastic wrappers and startup water brands which use resealable cans rather than plastic bottles are disrupting the category. In beverage, some brewers are trialling glue dots rather than plastic rings to hold cans or beer or cider together.


In the UK, snacking and food-on-the-go is up £148.6m to a sector of £3.2bn and in such a competitive market, with many decisions being made on impulse, this poses an opportunity for brands to benefit from strategic positioning and merchandising.

If you’re a brand looking to increase your listings, or wanted to optimise your existing in-store presence, don’t hesitate to get in touch with our team.