<strong>TREND REPORT 2023:</strong> <strong>A balancing act in the grocery aisles </strong>

TREND REPORT 2023: A balancing act in the grocery aisles 

United Fresh (www.unitedfresh.co.nz) has over 30 years of experience supporting and promoting the New Zealand fresh produce industry, working with the entire value chain, from seed producer and grower to consumer, providing leadership on pan-produce issues.  

This report is their sixth annual Trend Report for New Zealand.   

Restricted budgets, the need for balanced health and wellbeing, and the occasional small indulgence are impacting shopping behaviour in 2023.

While the triple threat of inflation, international war and global supply chain issues will dominate household decision-making for the coming months as the realities of post-lockdown recovery set in, Kiwi shoppers have also started to prioritise investing in their health. Demand has surged for products high in beneficial nutrients and products that offer to improve the planet’s health. In the fruit and vegetable aisle alone, 35% of consumers surveyed towards the end of last year reported increasing their spend on fresh produce for health reasons. 

In the same survey, almost half of all shoppers (45%) believed their purchase behaviour had changed in the last 12 months. Supermarkets and small retailers around the country have noticed these consumer behaviour shifts, shaping our pick of the top trends to watch for in 2023. 

The Copycat Cook 

With budgets tight, eating out is one of the first luxuries likely to be trimmed from weekly household expenses. Yet, Kiwi shoppers still yearn for the unique flavour combinations offered at their favourite restaurants or take-away. Enter the copycat trend – driven by social media channels featuring recipes that mimic the dishes served by famous chefs or easy ‘fake-away’ hits like fried cauliflower. Home cooks are keen to try preparing restaurant-quality food while minimising the cost. This trend has also been born out of a renewed confidence in the kitchen from spending so much time at home and has seen an increase in adventurous palates as people become bored of the same old family dinners.  

Along with perfecting that restaurant flavour, a desire to create authentic dishes is also on the rise. Recipes for food made ‘the old-fashioned way’ from scratch or ethnic specialties like aromatic curries and fermented vegetables are high on the list for home cooks looking to expand their repertoire.  

Climate Aware 

Concern for the climate has been a trend for several years, and it’s not going anywhere. If anything, the extreme weather events that the country’s fruit and vegetable growers have battled with have brought home the impact of our changing climate. 

Yet, despite the challenges in dialling back our emissions, a recent survey showed that 64% of Kiwi shoppers are unwilling to pay a premium for fruit and vegetables with sustainable practices. 

However, consumer expectations for sustainability are rising. Expect demand for food producers and retailers to increase transparency around sustainable food practices and invest more in packaging initiatives to be a key trend this year. 

Cultivated or plant-based ‘meat’ will continue to increase in popularity and decrease in price. Still, interestingly, despite the benefits to the planet, overseas research shows that shoppers selected plant-based ‘meat’ for health reasons 16 times more than they did for sustainability reasons. 

Climate campaigners should look to connect the twin goals of personal health and financial wellbeing with climate-positive actions to take advantage of this growing trend.  

Plant-Based Pasta 

Nearly every café in the country now has some sort of ‘plant-based’ dish in the cabinet, but pasta is the latest food category to be conquered by this planet-friendly movement. 

Overseas supermarket shelves are now home to a growing range of cauliflower gnocchi, chickpea penne and zoodles created with carrots, green banana, hearts of palm, zucchini and spaghetti squash. Kiwi retailers are joining the trend, an effective way to use up excess produce, reduce waste and increase the family’s vegetable consumption by adding a nutrient-dense ingredient to the evening meal. 

Easy But Exciting 

Meal prep kits will continue to be a significant fixture for the grocery industry this year as consumers look for quick solutions to get dinner on the table after a busy day.  

Alongside our increasingly global palates, expect kits in your local shops to feature more recipes for specialty food, exciting food combinations, sustainable packaging, interactive social media links and international dishes from around the world.  

Nice and ‘Swicy’ 

Nuanced heat that offers intense flavour with a spicy kick has been on trend for a few years, particularly as Kiwi cooks embrace the flavours of international cuisine in combination with an increasing focus on vegetables rather than meat-based meals. Bottles of hot sauce are a staple in many Kiwi households as we add a chilli boost to everything from edamame beans to peaches. 

This year expect spicy to get sweet. The ‘swicy’ trend sees the hot sauce category expand into honey, spreads, confectionary, drinks and snacks. Natural sweeteners such as maple syrup, dates and coconut sugar feature as a ‘healthy’ sugar hit. 

Global inspiration will also hit the condiments market this year with sauces, oils and seasonings featuring West African, Mexican, Spanish and Indian flavours which pair beautifully with seasonal vegetables. 

Awesome Avocado Oil  

No longer a niche product, avocado oil is set to be a mainstream grocery item this year. With a range of attributes, including high oleic fatty acid content and a high smoke point, this versatile oil can be used in place of others, such as canola and sunflower oil, in various dishes. 

Already a favourite with health-conscious consumers, the benefits of avocado oil will spread along with the demand for nutritional products. 

Retro Flavours 

The nostalgia trend shifts into the grocery aisle this year as food companies take advantage of our yearning for simpler times. Comfort foods such as cauliflower cheese provide a sense of security in an increasingly disrupted world. In addition, we expect to see more of granny’s favourite recipes appearing in your social media feeds. 

From fruit preserves to ice blocks and vegetable quiche, retro flavours, nostalgia-filled advertising campaigns, and brand collabs will do their best to remind us all of our childhood. 

TikTok already has 31.3 million views for #vintagerecipes – though many come with a modern twist, comfort food without the calories. 

TikTok Trending 

When asked where they get inspiration to try new recipes, 46% of Kiwi shoppers said online or through social media. TikTok is dominating the digital space and is expected to continue to influence over 1 billion users this year. 

Cooking hacks, recipes and food trends from TikTok contributors around the world are creating new trends on an almost daily basis. And while the platform often gets publicity for the craziest viral posts, such as avocado butter boards, it’s an increasingly valuable platform for sharing innovative ideas.  

Recent creators who make their own alternative milk have been exploring ways to use the leftover nut and oat pulp at home, and food producers are also entering this space. Upcycling food by-products like this offers vital alternatives to the world’s ballooning food waste problem, and platforms like TikTok are increasingly crucial in the innovation space. 

Flextipple Fun 

Just as flexitarians alternate between meat and vegan lifestyles, many also embrace the flextipple trend by increasing the amount of low-alcohol and non-alcoholic beverages they consume on a night out. 

Booze-free fruit cocktails and RTDs are taking off as newly health-conscious shoppers look for fun, tasty and exotic alternatives to wine, beer and spirits. 

Expect greater ranges of RTDs that feature exciting flavour combinations and carefully curated lifestyle marketing campaigns and an increase in spritzes that offer a diluted option to traditional booze. 

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