Food trends in the UK are changing as we strive to become a healthier nation – but why? We have teamed up with Compost Direct, advocates of growing your own produce and retailers of garden bark chipping, to find out more.

A growing interest in organic

The purchase of produce that has been grown organically has been on the rise for a few years now. Now worth a huge £2.09 billion, the market witnessed 7.1% growth in 2016 alone. In fact, organic food and drink now represents a 1.5% share of the total UK market, according to the 2017 Organic Market Report. On a global scale, the UK’s organic market makes up 4% of the $81 billion worldwide organic sales.

People are becoming more aware of the benefits of organic produce and this could be why their purchasing more. Overall, 80% of consumers said they had knowledge of organic food, with 39% buying it on a weekly basis.

Brits are becoming more health conscious too, driven by our large presence on social media. As images of toned, healthy bodies litter our news feeds, we’re inspired by self-improvement. Given that organic food is often fresher, containing fewer pesticides and no genetic modifications, it’s the route many people choose as part of living and eating better.

Amongst this new trend, it is the foodservice market that has seen the biggest growth. Sales of organic food within the UK’s foodservice market rose by 19.1% in 2016 to be worth a staggering £76.6 million.

As consumers are changing what they want to eat, restaurants, pubs and cafes must keep up. In order to continue to capture sales from increasingly health-conscious customers, outlets must change their menus accordingly, driving the growth of organic food. Many well-known restaurants have made the switch to organic, including Jamie’s Italian, McDonalds and Nando’s.

As restaurants change their offerings, wholesalers must change too. Between 2015 and 2016, there were almost 25% more licensed organic wholesalers, responding to the growing demand for wholesome food.

The trend has affected the public sector too. With schools, universities, hospitals and workplaces serving more organic food under the Food For Life Catering Mark, it’s clear that organic is on the rise — and it doesn’t show any signs of slowing down.

The love for growing your own

More people are enjoying growing their own food in light of the recession of 2007 which left many scrambling to fight rising food costs. In 2012, for example, the BBC reported that almost a third of British adults grow their own food. A further 51% said in a survey that they would take to the vegetable patch if food prices were to rise further.

Growing your own produce makes gardening enjoyable too according to a recent study. one YouGov report found that 77% of gardeners listed eating produce that they have grown in their own gardens as the main benefit of gardening. What’s more, 44% grow enough fruit and vegetable to share with their friends and family, while over 25% said that growing their own food was now their hobby.

Rise in recipe boxes

As the rise of online shopping has proven, we’re always on the lookout to save some time and energy. Our busy lives and dependence on technology has given rise to the recipe box. Pioneered by the likes of Hello Fresh and Gousto, these boxes contain all of the ingredients you need to cook tasty meals, along with instructions on how to do it.

The boxes have been a success, possibly due to the convenience that they provide. In 2015, the recipe box industry has achieved some £702 million in worldwide sales. By 2025, predictions estimate that this will grow to £3.8 billion as the market goes from strength-to-strength and more companies emerge.

The recipe boxes are also good for reducing household waste too as they provide just enough ingredients for what you need. As UK households threw away £13 billion of edible food in 2017, this is a well sought-after idea. According to analytics by Cardlytics, spending on recipe boxes grew by 64.6% in the first half of 2016, with the volume of orders increasing by 47.6%.

Of course, the UK supermarkets are sensing the threat from the recipe boxes. Tesco and Waitrose have both launched a recipe kit range within their stores. With Waitrose vowing to make them a permanent part of their range, Tesco is still in the trial stages.

From growing our own to ordering tailored recipe boxes, it’s clear that the food trends of the UK are changing.