Facing up to the food challenge

GENERATIONS of young Irish people were told by their parents as they grew up that an apple a day was sure to keep the doctor away.

But that good advice was adapted at the recent Savour Kilkenny Food Festival to highlight how new technology is now dictating eating habits.

Bord Bia consumer insight expert Grace Binchy said an app a day is taking over from the traditional apple a day.

That’s because people are turning to the information super highway to steer them towards healthy and good value foods.

She said more consumers are going online to choose what foods they eat, seriously challenging the traditional norms.

Ms Binchy said the average spend per shop online is €62 compared to €22 in store.

And while the financial crisis has influenced food trends, people are still willing to put quality and nutrition above price.

“By 2015, nine out of ten people will own a smart phone and one in four a tablet, with very fast internet speeds. This will have huge implications on food buying,” she said.

Her presentation was based on statistics gleaned from a global monitor study conducted by the Futures Company on behalf of Bord Bia.

Ms Binchy said technology is also helping companies to be more transparent.

“Trends show a return to shopping locally, as well as a desire for transparency and traceability and wanting to know the people behind brands and products.”

For example, there is an app called Shroomies that provides nutritional information for up to 92,000 products and over 41,000 restaurant menus.

“There is greater emphasis now on cooking from scratch and people are more conscious of the food they eat and the ingredients they use. People are eating out less and eating in more.”

Ms Binchy said shopping has become much more complex because people are more risk aware and determined to get value for money.

“Research shows that while convenience has to be affordable it is not all about price. Food has to deliver on quality, nutrition and has to be simple to use and access.

“Convenience foods have to deliver a more quality proposition, with a greater awareness around fuller and sustained energy.”

She predicted that there will be a stronger demand for food that offers health benefits and even disease prevention and food that delivers physical and mental health benefits while people sleep. Ms Binchy said research also shows that mothers will spend a lot more on food to protect their children’s health.

The organisers of Savour Kilkenny have also adopted new technology by producing a promotional video which can be viewed on its website www.savourkilkenny.com Kilkenny is the home of global food group, Glanbia, and is the location of other food businesses and has a growing reputation in the hospitality sector.

The Medieval City is being actively promoted by Kilkenny Tourism as a major food centre, as well as a place to come to experience culture and the arts.

Last September, two Co Kilkenny restaurants, Lady Helen at the Mount Juliet Estate, Thomastown, and Campagne in the city, were awarded coveted stars for the first time by the prestigious Michelin Guide.

Kilkenny has also been ranked the friendliest city in Europe by readers of the Condé Nast Traveller magazine.

Kilkenny Tourism chairman, Colin Ahern, said the food industry is providing a lot of employment in the city and country and it deserves to be promoted as much as possible.

Kilkenny now has a reputation as being one of the major food capitals of Europe.

It has the highest number of Michelin stars per head of population after San Sebastian and food lovers have the opportunity to taste the city and county’s great food culture.

Festival chairman Ger Mullally said each year the event develops a programme of activities, which embraces all sectors of the food community, from artisan producers to restaurateurs, food agencies to food farmers.

The involvement and participation of so many Kilkenny businesses enabled the organisers to provide an action-packed weekend of activities suitable for all with many free of charge.

Minister of State, Tom Hayes, who opened the festival, said local communities can be sustained by people keeping towns and cities vibrant and supporting locally produced food.


Irish National Opera’s imaginative staging of the Cinderella story does justice to Rossini's vision, writes Cathy Desmond.Imaginative staging of the Cinderella story does justice to Rossini's vision

Kya deLongchamps has 10 golden rules for successful vintage and antique hunting.Vintage View: Our 10 golden rules for successful vintage and antique hunting

In conversation with Hilary Fennell.This Much I Know: Journalist and Writer, Valerie Cox

More From The Irish Examiner