health is wealth

Health is Wealth and Driving Change in the Food Industry

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Updated on April 24, 2024

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Today, in the Amazing Food and Drink Summit, Hugo Hodgson, founder of Long Shot Drinks, joins us to discuss the evolving landscape of health, sustainability, and consumer preferences in the post-COVID food and beverage industry. With restaurants reopening cautiously and consumers rethinking their diets, there’s a notable shift reflecting a growing awareness of the impact of food preferences on personal well-being and the environment.

Hugo delves into the evolving preferences of consumers, emphasising the enduring significance of the “health is wealth” movement. From cleaner drinking options to plant-based alternatives, consumers are seeking products that resonate with their values and promote a healthier lifestyle. Join us as we look into these transformative trends and their impact on the future of food and drink with Hugo Hodgson at the Amazing Food and Drink Summit.

Culinary Trends and Environmental Consciousness

Currently, there is a gradual recovery from the COVID-affected landscape. Restaurants are reopening to some extent, which is a significant development. According to Hugo Hodgson, there’s a discernible shift towards a healthier and more sustainable ethos in the food and beverage realm, as well as a noticeable increase in dietary awareness among individuals, driven by various factors such as personal well-being and environmental concerns.

Such a move is often referred to as the health is wealth movement, which appears to be firmly entrenched. The era of simple meat and vegetable dinners seems to have passed. There’s a growing demand for culinary sophistication, cultural diversity, and a broadening of palates among individuals.

On a different note, it will be intriguing to observe how this trend intersects with environmental concerns. Will consumers be swayed towards purchasing seasonal products at their peak, or will there continue to be a preference for a wide variety of products year-round?

According to Hugo, it is a fact that regardless of where individuals stand on the spectrum of beliefs regarding climate change, it is still a prevailing issue, and its significance is expected to grow over time. That said, there has been a substantial increase in the number of brands and retailers adopting environmentally friendly practices, from their selection of brands to their logistical operations, which reflects the growing importance of sustainability.

Superfood Potential: A Sustainable Snacking Solution

One side that shows the growing awareness of health is the currently trending snack preferences.

Many individuals enjoy indulging in a bar of chocolate occasionally, perhaps even daily, as part of a balanced diet. However, more people are becoming conscious of how excessive sugar consumption leads to rapid spikes and crashes in energy levels, which impact productivity.

This understanding has led to a trend towards healthier snack options, exemplified by brands like Graze and others that provide a variety of healthy snack options. While traditional snacks still have their place, there’s a noticed shift towards alternatives such as nuts, seeds, and nutrient-rich bars.

Although this movement is still in its infancy, it is expected to evolve further, especially in the context of the COVID-affected world, where travellers may discover and bring back new, health-focused products from different parts of the globe, such as nettle-based drinks.

Nettles

health is wealth

For years, there has been a prevailing perception of nettles as bothersome plants that merely cause discomfort with their stings. However, the superfood qualities these plants possess, which are often overlooked, are gradually coming to public notice. 

Embracing such locally available superfoods not only reduces food miles and contributes to the fight against climate change but also alleviates the pressure on farmers to focus solely on producing specific crops or meats. This diversification of food sources presents a promising opportunity for sustainable agriculture.

Quinoa

health is wealth

Another trending superfood that confirms the shift toward bettering health is quinoa.

Despite having been a staple in Peru already, the current quinoa trend initially emerged from the United States. People are increasingly substituting carb-heavy foods with lighter alternatives like quinoa, recognising its benefits for focus and concentration. So, yes, consumers are seeking not just physical health but also mental well-being.

This emphasis on holistic health extends to workspaces, where improved productivity is linked to better ventilation. Individuals are realising that what they consume directly impacts their ability to concentrate; even if they drink responsibly, the effects of alcohol consumption can affect mental clarity the following day.

Popcorn

health is wealth

There’s also the popcorn trend that has been prevalent for a few years now. It’s gaining popularity as a light snack option, much like corn cakes, which are also considered a healthy choice. These snacks come in a wide variety of flavours.

Another point is that sweet popcorn was often heavily coated in sugar in the past. Nowadays, however, there are options for less sweet popcorn that still offer a satisfying level of sweetness. This suggests that consumers’ palates are evolving towards a preference for milder flavours, indicating a shift in taste preferences.

While popcorn in itself is not a new concept, it’s interesting how such trends can undergo reinvention over time.

Long Shot Drinks and Pioneering Clean Drinking

The health is wealth trend appears to be enduring, not just prompting more healthy food choices but also supporting the establishment of new ventures which align with cleaner drinking practices. Yet, it does not stop there. There’s also a growing movement driven by health and environmental concerns towards eliminating animal byproducts, like gelatin, used in wine filtration.

Take, for example, the brand Long Shot Drinks, which was founded by Hugo. They offer low-calorie, low-sugar, vegan, and gluten-free options, catering to a diverse array of dietary preferences. Even non-vegans can enjoy Long Shot, while vegans may appreciate the increased market choices.

Currently operating in London, UK, Long Shot Drinks is planning to expand into Ireland and has already engaged in discussions with several distributors. While nothing has materialised yet, their goal is to distribute their products widely, focusing on places where their brand aligns with consumer preferences and where there’s a demand for their products.

Innovations and Adaptations in the Retail Landscape

This leads to an important question: Are supermarkets embracing this new trend of cleaner drinks and food?

Hugo states that managing a supermarket is indeed a challenging task, often underestimated by many. The logistics and operations involved can be quite complex, considering the vast array of products and limited space available.

Despite these challenges, however, major supermarket chains have demonstrated remarkable agility in adopting new brands and ideas. It’s truly impressive to see how quickly they embrace innovation.

Examples include Sainsbury’s with their Future Brands programme, as well as Co-op and Spa, which prioritise local products. On the other end of the spectrum, there is Whole Foods, renowned for its unwavering support of independent brands, and Amazon Fresh, the new store introduced by Amazon.

Amazon Fresh

health is wealth

For those who are not familiar with it, Amazon Fresh is basically a grocery delivery and pickup service provided by Amazon, allowing customers to conveniently order a wide selection of groceries, including fresh produce, meat, dairy, and pantry items, online through the Amazon website or app with same-day, next-day, or scheduled delivery options in eligible areas.

Yet, the service even goes beyond that with the remarkable Just Walk Out technology. This is how it works.

Besides the online experience, Amazon Fresh has completely unmanned physical stores typically designed with a layout similar to traditional grocery stores, featuring aisles stocked with a variety of groceries, fresh produce, meat, dairy, and household essentials. Every shop is entirely monitored by installed cameras, and the shelves are equipped with sensors that detect the weight of the items placed on them.

Customers have to download an app called the Amazon Dash Card to access their smart shopping cart. Once they approach the store, customers scan their app at the entrance, take a basket or cart and start shopping by placing items into them.

What happens is that the sensors every shelf automatically detect how many items were taken by working out the shelf’s weight before and after the items were removed. At the same time, the cameras installed in every aisle record which customer actually picked up those items.

Such data which the cameras and sensors captured fly through the air and adds these items to the customer’s Amazon Dash Card account. If customers return something, even if in a different place, the same weight calculation and camera monitoring processes will remove it from the card.

When customers are done shopping, the app calculates the cost of the items they picked and make the payment using the previously determined payment method. This way, customers get to leave the Amazon Fresh store with their items without having to go through or wait in long lines for checkout.

While such technology may, at first glance, pique the interest of those inclined towards theft, presenting potential opportunities, the extensive camera coverage suggests a high level of surveillance, likely deterring any opportunistic behaviour. Even in traditional stores with fewer cameras, individuals can still be caught engaging in such behaviour. 

Amazon is indeed pushing the boundaries with its approach, and its heightened level of surveillance that enhances security has the potential to reduce operational costs by minimising the need for additional staff. It’s likely that their model will set a new standard in retail, becoming commonplace in the future.

This convenience-oriented approach is also evident in innovations like HelloFresh, which delivers precisely measured ingredients to minimise food waste and streamline meal preparation. It’s perfect for busy individuals who crave healthy meals but lack the time to plan and assemble them. Traditional supermarket shopping can be time-consuming, but with advancements such as scanner guns, supermarkets are adapting to meet the needs of convenience-seeking shoppers.

The Rise of Machine-Prepared Cuisine

health is wealth

Such innovations in the health and food industry are not limited to supermarkets but extend to other areas.

Take, for example, the vending machines that produce freshly made pizzas, WOC-based food and burgers. The automation of food preparation is becoming increasingly common, which is no surprise, according to Hugo.

As the costs associated with developing these tools and machines decrease, the feasibility of such automation becomes apparent. Especially in a post-COVID environment, where minimising contact between staff and customers is crucial for health and safety. In such a context, automated takeaway options present a logical solution from a management perspective.

While it may introduce a slightly impersonal aspect to the dining experience, consumers are likely to adapt to this new approach, much like they have with other futuristic technologies such as driverless cars. As discussions about these innovations continue, there will likely be growing interest and experimentation with such futuristic tech, potentially leading to the emergence of more niche stores embracing automation.

The Future of Alcohol Vending Machines

Although food vending machines may have proven efficient to some extent, they might not be as working for other things like alcohol, at least at the moment, thanks to the nature of the alcoholic products themselves, which require careful measures to ensure that every customer is of legal drinking age.

While alcohol vending machines do exist, they are typically located within venues with door security to monitor access. However, from a brand’s perspective, they present a significant risk, as the point of sale is a critical factor in legal compliance. The law specifies the point of exchange, and the responsibility is squarely placed on the vendor in case any problem arises.

It may seem mundane, but navigating these legal considerations is essential due to the vending machine being under the brand’s jurisdiction.

Conclusion

As we wrap up our exploration of the evolving landscape of the food and beverage industry, it’s evident that significant shifts are underway. From the emphasis on health and sustainability to the integration of innovative technologies like automation, the industry is undergoing a profound transformation.

The “health is wealth” movement is gaining momentum, with consumers increasingly prioritising products that align with their values and promote holistic well-being. Innovations in retail, such as Amazon Fresh and the Just Walk Out technology, are reshaping the way we shop, offering unparallelled convenience and efficiency. While challenges remain, particularly in the legal and regulatory aspects of the industry, the potential for further advancements and experimentation is vast.

As we look to the future, it’s clear that the food and drink industry will continue to evolve in response to altering consumer preferences, technological innovations, and global challenges. By embracing health, sustainability, and automation, we can establish a more resilient and equitable food system for generations to come.

Video Transcript

Speaker 2 (00:00)
So welcome to Amazing Food and Drink. Today, we’re with Hugo Hudson, who is founder of Longshot, the Hard Seltzer Drink. Welcome to the show, Hugo.

Speaker 1 (00:16)
Hi, Cohn. Thanks so much for having me on here.

Speaker 2 (00:19)
Delighted to see you again. So Hugo, we’re going to have a chat today about food and drink and maybe some innovations that are occurring in the sector. So what’s going What’s on the food and drink world at the minute?

Speaker 1 (00:32)
At present, we’re just recovering from the COVID world. So it’s so great to see restaurants and back at some capacity, which I think is really important to mention. In general, I think the food and drink world, I think we’ve all seen it. It’s all getting healthier and more sustainable conscious in the most general sense. I think people are also much more diet conscious for a variety of reasons, whether that’s feeling better or environmental reasons.

Speaker 2 (01:02)
Okay, brilliant. Where do you see it going? If we’re thinking about three, five years ahead in the future, where’s the food and drink industry going?

Speaker 1 (01:10)
I think the health is wealth movement is here to stay. I think gone are the days of people having a meat and two veg for dinners. I think people want more sophistication, a range of cultural options, but also just our palettes are becoming increasingly increasingly diversified. And I think it’ll be increasing to see how that plays out with the environmental aspect, because obviously, will people be persuaded to buy more products that are seasonal at the right seasons, or are consumers going to still want a vast array, really, of products all year round.

Speaker 2 (01:51)
And you mentioned sustainability there. Do you think that’s a common, an increasingly important thing for consumers? Do you think it’s here to stay? What are your thoughts on that?

Speaker 1 (02:03)
I think whichever side of the spectrum you fit in on climate change, I think it’s personally here to stay. I think it’ll become increasingly important. I think people want to be able to pick up brands and feel good about drinking them or eating them, knowing that that brand is doing their part. I think if you look at the number of brands and retailers have jumped, I said, jumped into the bandwagon, but actually taken up environmentally friendly practises, everything from how they choose brands to how they pack their lorries, to all the way down to quite small changes within those brands or retailers. It just shows how important it is.

Speaker 2 (02:45)
Okay. And you mentioned there just at the outset about, if you like health consciousness and healthy foods. What do you think is happening with the snack industry? I’ve noticed that that is becoming a a little more healthier? What are your thoughts on that?

Speaker 1 (03:04)
Everyone likes a bar of chocolate from time to time, or maybe it’s even each day or whatever. It’s part of a well balanced diet. But I think people realise that this isn’t new science, that actually, if you spike yourself full of sugar, you get an immediate high and then a straight low. I’m not a nutritionist, but I think people see this in how well they function at work. And I think that’s been translated the healthier, better for you snacks. Of course, there’s still a gap for the old-star snacks, but I think we’ve seen that with brands like Graze, for example, and a number of others. I mean, Graze is probably the most well known, but People are having things like nuts, seeds, whether it’s bars that have the same thing within them. But really, it’s just at the beginning of its journey. And I think increasingly in the this COVID world, when people go out to travel again, someone else will find something else on the other side of the world that they’re eating, drinking, whatever, and bring it back and say, Look, this is a product that has got all these health benefits. I was reading about the other day, someone who is making drinks out of nettle.

Speaker 1 (04:19)
For years, we’ve looked at nettle and said, Oh, all they do is sting you. Why do we have them? No one really likes them. But actually, we have some superfoods, not just necessarily on the other side of the world, but on our doorstep. Which we will probably pick into. And I think that helps with the fight against climate change because- Less food miles? Less food miles, but also if we have diversified foods, then it’s less pressure on putting on farmers to produce one type of food or one type of meat. So, yeah, it’s all fantastic, really.

Speaker 2 (04:54)
Yeah. And funny, you should say, I’m seeing even in Belfast trends for quinoa or quinoa, as people sometimes call it. But that’s been a massive trend recently in superfoods in general, super salads.

Speaker 1 (05:07)
Yeah, I think you touched on a really good point there. The quinoa trend came across from the States. It’s originally a Peruvian staple, quinoa, whatever you want to call it. But it’s certainly the people swapping out more carb-heavy foods for something that’s a bit lighter. It helps with your focus and concentration. I I think consumers are looking for something that’s not just about healthy body, it’s also about healthy mind, isn’t it? And I think we’ve seen that also, funny enough, that translates into workspaces. It’s been seen that better productivity can be had through a better ventilated workspace. And I think people have starting to realise that it’s not just about your ventilation. If you put stuff in your system, it’s not unhealthy concentrate. After a few drinks the night before, you may have drunk responsibility, but you may not feel as fresh as you would if you’ve gone to bed with one or none.

Speaker 2 (06:04)
Yeah, fair point. And you just made me think there, in terms of being in work and snacking, your typical bar of chocolate for that mid-afternoon lift and stuff. I think that’s changing. I mean, I’m even seeing people eating things like popcorn now.

Speaker 1 (06:20)
Yeah, well, the popcorn trend has been here for a few years, Colm. And I think increasingly it’s such a light snack. And things like corn Cakes, for example, it’s a very light snack. It can be eaten as part of a healthy diet. They often come in a vast array of flavours. And that was another one from the States. I can’t even get my words out, really. It’s not a new trend. Let’s be honest, popcorn has been around for years and years and years. But it’s funny how these things sometimes just reinvent themselves.

Speaker 2 (06:56)
Yeah, it’s come round again, in Vogue and then out of Vogue. And I think also people don’t need the heavy flavours that they used to.

Speaker 1 (07:04)
I think in the past, when you had your sweet popcorn, it was really doused in sugar. And I think now you can have a much less sweet popcorn comparatively, but it’s still perfectly sweet. So I think that consumer palate is becoming much, doesn’t need such strength necessarily.

Speaker 2 (07:23)
Yeah. And in terms of your future protections and where indeed long-shot fits in, with this trend? Talk to me about that.

Speaker 1 (07:33)
Well, I think the health as well trend is here to stay. And I think that’s one of the reasons why I set up Longshot because it taps into the cleaner drinking, I should say. It’s low calorie, it’s low sugar, it’s vegan, it’s gluten free. You may not be a vegan, but you can still have a long shot, or you may be vegan and you don’t feel there’s enough choice in the market. Interestingly, things like wine are often the way they’re filtered has animal byproducts within the philtres. And it’s a real shame that that’s… I’m sure that will change with time, but it’s a real shame that that puts people off A lot of wine. I think these buy products, such as things like gelatin, increasingly things will be dropped out for them. So there’s a real health and also environmental. And I think those are the key trends. And I think this will translate itself through to a lot more brands. I think if you go back 20 years, we saw far less brands within supermarkets. We also had supermarket home brands. We had the big global corporation brands. And they’re not bad. They’re all great, and that’s fantastic.

Speaker 1 (08:49)
But I think consumers want a much bigger array of brands in their convenience stores all the way through to their large supermarkets.

Speaker 2 (08:58)
Brilliant. And just on, On that, obviously you’re London-based, but will we see you in Ireland anytime soon? I think there’d be a growing market for your product in Ireland.

Speaker 1 (09:09)
Well, now that you’re excited, we better get it over there. No, we’d love to be in Ireland. We really would. And it’s something we’ve had discussions with some distributors over there. Nothing’s come to fruition as of yet. But I think our plan is to try and get the product into as many stores as many places we possibly can. Really where we see our brand fitting and fundamentally where a consumer might actually want to pick us up.

Speaker 2 (09:35)
Brilliant. So could we see long shot, for example, in supermarkets? And are supermarkets embracing this new trend for health consciousness, for cleaner drinks and food? I mean, I’m not sure. You’d know better than I.

Speaker 1 (09:52)
I think that’s a great point. I think supermarkets, actually, it’s a difficult job being a supermarket. A lot A lot of people don’t think so, but it’s a logistical nightmare, operational nightmare. You’re dealing with so many different products. There’s only a certain amount of space. And I think they’ve done a fantastic job. I think if you look at all the major chains, they’ve all been very quick to take on new brands, quick to take on the new ideas. It’s only when you really open your eyes with them in those supermarkets, you realise how quick they have been to embrace them. And I think, to name a few, whether that’s seeing space with their future brands programme and just generally looking in there that they really sometimes do pick up some really small brands all the way through to places like Co-op who go a much more local strategy or spa do quite a local strategy. And then looking at the other ends of the spectrum, whilst I appreciate it’s not Northern Ireland or Ireland-based, places like Whole Foods, who have really championed pure independence and only independence, really. And whilst we’re on Whole Foods, the Amazon, I don’t know if you’ve seen the new Amazon store, Amazon Fresh, I think it’s called.

Speaker 2 (11:05)
Yeah, I have seen it, but I haven’t dealt with it.

Speaker 1 (11:09)
That’s a fantastic retail experience that you just walk in. For those of you that don’t know, you just walk in. I think you scan your app at the entrance, you walk in and you just put stuff in your basket and walk out at the end. It can tell what you’ve picked up and what you then put back. And at the end, it just charges your card. And I think that’s the other The real thing is we’re convenience-focused. So when you see brands like Hello Fresh that have come around, that is purely on a, we’ll send you the right amount of ingredients, less food wastage, and you can have it for three meals a week when you maybe you come back from work late and you’re really… You still want that healthy meal, but just haven’t had time to assemble it, plan it. And as per usual, I’ll probably have some wastage at the end of it. I think the convenience model of supermarkets where you You can actually waste a lot of time going in, picking up your stuff and getting out. Now, supermarkets have come around with that, with things like those scanner guns.

Speaker 1 (12:08)
But Amazon’s taking it to the next level. I think that will become the norm without a doubt.

Speaker 2 (12:13)
I’ve seen the advertisement for that, and it looked absolutely amazing. Where you’re literally, as you say, you’re walking around, throwing things in, walking out the door.

Speaker 1 (12:23)
Absolutely.

Speaker 2 (12:24)
And again, probably for store theft and stuff, that It could be an amazing development, couldn’t it?

Speaker 1 (12:33)
When I was reading the article about it, it was quite interesting how they said they have so many cameras around there so they can see what everyone is doing. So I suspect if there are those thrifty viewers watching this, then you might be opportunistic. But I suppose if they really have a camera at every angle, then they’ll probably catch you picking it up on a more traditional store, which doesn’t have as many cameras, but still people get caught that way. So I would think it would reduce your operational costs as well because you won’t need so many staff, probably.

Speaker 2 (13:09)
Yeah. I’ve actually just thought of something there that I’d read recently about robots in restaurants. Did you see that?

Speaker 1 (13:19)
I did, yes. I’ve seen a few different examples of it. Everything from I’ve seen pizza vending machines that make a fresh pizza to I saw a place in America, I read about a place in America that does fried, WOC-based food that’s done by a machine and also burgers that are done by machines. To be honest, this is not really a surprise. I mean, once the cost of actually developing the tools and the machines to create these products or create your meals for you, once the cost of that comes down, then it starts to make sense because from a management perspective, particularly in a post-COVID world, your staff are the ones who spread the disease, unfortunately, and your customers do. So if you can have something for takeaway that’s done by machine, then it does make sense. It slightly takes a new impersonal approach, but I think it’s something that consumers will get used to a bit like driverless cars as and when they arrive. And I think we’ll see more of that thing, futuristic tech, because I think we’ll get people like us talking about it, and then people want to try it. And there may be more niche stores, but I think we will see more.

Speaker 2 (14:38)
Long-shot vending machines.

Speaker 1 (14:41)
Yeah, maybe one day. It’s difficult because being an alcoholic product, we have to be careful, but ensuring that any customers are over aged 18. I have seen alcohol vending machines before, but they’re usually within a location that’s got door security so that anything else is in there. But it’s quite a big risk from a brand’s perspective because the point of sale is… The law talks about the point of sale, the point of exchange, where the problem happened, where you’re technically as a vendor, you’re breaking the law. So rather boringly, I’m going into this, but it’s a very difficult one because actually the vending machine is your responsibility.

Speaker 2 (15:25)
Brilliant. And tell me, where can we find you, Hugo?

Speaker 1 (15:30)
Well, first of all, you can head to our website, longshotdrinks. Co. Uk or. Com. But you can also find us on Amazon with Amazon Prime and not on the high street. There are a number of independent stores, mainly England-focused, I’m sorry to say, for people in Ireland and Scotland and Wales. But have a look on our socials and we will update as and when we get news, when we get supermarkets and independent stores online.

Speaker 2 (16:01)
I’m really hoping that our viewers might actually help expand your product base, both from a supplier point of view and the consumers, that when they watch this, that they’re saying, Right, we need to see long shot in England, sorry, Wales, Scotland, and Ireland.

Speaker 1 (16:17)
And do get in touch with us if you have a place where you think it should be listed or get in touch with us if you want to give us… Just have a general chat. We’re always around. Love to get in contact with all our customers and people who maybe aren’t customers or can’t quite understand why we’re doing it or anyone with a bit of advice. We’re always open for a chat.

Speaker 2 (16:35)
Absolutely brilliant, Hugo. And as usual, it’s been a pleasure talking to you. And we’ll chat to you again very soon.

Speaker 1 (16:41)
Thank you very much, Cole. It’s been great to speak to you.

Speaker 2 (16:45)
Brilliant. See you soon.

Speaker 1 (16:45)
Thank you. See you soon. All the best. Bye. Bye.

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