Dawn Farms publishes its Trend Catcher report twice a year, which helps the company to stay ahead of the curve on consumer wants and needs, fashionable flavours, and emerging trends and insights. Irishfood spoke to John McGrath, head of business development, marketing and communications at Dawn Farms to find out more
Dawn Farms exports to over 50 international markets, supplying many of the world’s most loved food brands in retail and quick service restaurant (QSR)/fast casual restaurants from its state-of-the-art manufacturing facilities in Ireland, Germany, and the UK. The company is a leading B2B specialist supplier of fully cooked and ready-to-eat (RTE) protein ingredients in Europe, offering a comprehensive range of pre-cooked meat, plant proteins, bacon and fermented and dried sausage ingredients for the pizza, sandwich, snack, and prepared meal sectors. Exporting and supplying at this level are only possible when armed with the best and most relevant information. Cue, Trend Catcher.
Irishfood: How does Trend Catcher aid Dawn Farms in its business goals?
JMcG: We believe that great ingredients make great food. Great ingredients come from outstanding food innovation, one of the essential building blocks of our business. We supply a fast-moving market that is constantly evolving, with a wide scope to track consumer insights and product trends across the EU. We publish our Trend Catcher report twice yearly which tracks the prominence of insights and trends, allowing us to stay ahead of the curve and catch the waves of future growth, informing our customers of the latest in market insight.
Irishfood: What trends are you seeing in terms of consumer demand?
JMcG: We are living in an extraordinary era of permacrisis as we transition from Brexit to Covid-19, to inflation and the cost-of-living crisis, the war in Ukraine, and with climate change as the dominant backdrop to all future decisions in our industry. Currently, low consumer confidence overhangs the market, and, in this scenario, consumers will look to trusted brands to bring solutions to the table. We note a desire for conscious value, for more sustainable healthy and nutritious food-to-go products, and what we call ‘permissible indulgence’, as consumers seek flavour adventure and occasion-led treats as experiences to share with family and friends.
Irishfood: What are the main trends that Dawn Farms is responding to?
JMcG: Meat remains the number-one protein, however in both our meat and plant protein products, we see that ‘permissible indulgence’ is coming into focus in the second half of 2023. Consumers are searching for more ways to be healthy and sustainable, without compromising on taste, texture, and flavour. In this environment, our customers are looking for solutions and our capability extends to more sustainable meat-based options, plant-based proteins and a fusion of meat and plant which delivers a more sustainable product, with lower greenhouse gas emission, retaining its protein content, taste and texture.
Irishfood: What future trends do you anticipate?
JMcG: Global and more adventurous flavours continue to reign, as consumers explore cuisines and cultures through food, with a combination of fusion foods and real authentic global flavours. Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cuisines have been growing in popularity, as well as flavours like, za'atar, sumac, and those found in falafel and shawarma. German consumers are increasingly enjoying spicy cuisines from around the world such as Indian, Thai, and Mexican.
Irishfood: How can brands continue to stay relevant?
JMcG: Brands can stay relevant by thinking outside of traditional flavour and format boundaries and developing new, unexpected combinations. A new wave of chefs are fusing different cuisines in ways that are creative, fun, thoughtful and delicious, with Gen Z open to trying new flavour combinations that are bolder, often polarising, and much more adventurous.
We note that one of the fastest growing cuisines in Germany is Mexican, which continues to develop with the emergence of more nuanced callouts such as guajillo chillies, ancho chillies and birria, for example.
Irishfood: How has the trend for health and sustainability continued to evolve?
JMcG: There are opportunities to offer more ‘health-focussed’ pizzas, sandwiches, and ready meals, with reduced fat, additives, and salt, and calling out nutritional details, with a particular focus on higher protein. Using cleaner-label, high-protein meat, or plant-based protein, such as seasoned jackfruit, is a great way to appeal to these health-conscious and sustainably aware consumers. Consumers are first focussed on taste, followed by value and then convenience. Protein-rich ready meal brands targeting the health and fitness consumer are a growing presence in the marketplace.
Irishfood: As a business, how does Dawn Farms decide which path to take?
JMcG: Consumer insights drive growth, and this maxim allows us to work in collaboration with our customers to improve existing products and to selectively introduce new products that meet their consumers’ need in their served markets.
Irishfood: What are the ingredients that set Dawn Farms apart?
JMcG: One of our most sought-after calling cards is that all our products are fully cooked and ready-to-eat, a significant benefit for customers in terms of food safety, energy efficiency and indeed labour-saving. The All our Futures sustainability programme, approved by the Science Based Target initiative means we are in step, if not ahead, on shared goals in our industry. As a business, we move at the speed of quality with an unwavering focus on food safety and quality to protect our customers brand and their reputation for serving great tasting products that delight their customers.
Trend Catcher is Dawn Farms’ bi-annual report, which tracks the prominence of insights and trends, allowing the company to stay ahead of the curve, and catch the waves of future growth. Key topics featured in the July 2023 report included: the ever-evolving Gen Z consumer, pushing traditional boundaries, flavour forecast for 2024, plant-based must-haves and avoiding the ‘veto vote’.