Australians are embracing healthier habits than in decades past, but chronic busyness is trumping good intentions, and in turn opening up new opportunities for more convenient pack design.

Last week's Food & Drink Business LIVE breakfast forum, The Convenience Culture, explored the consumer trends, the latest in packaging innovation, and some of the opportunities that are ripe for innovation.

Healthy convenience is on the upswing, if the latest research from LIVE keynote speaker Laura Demasi (pictured above), the director of Social and Consumer Trends at Roy Morgan Research, is any indication.

“We're more careful about what we eat and drink but when life gets in the way, convenience is still king,” Demasi told attendees. “Despite our best efforts, our waistlines continue to expand.”

A whopping one in five now say they just don’t have time to cook, according to Demasi, and this is driving strong demand for food delivery services, meal kits, and pre-packaged ready meals.

Leading the pack

The director of creative design agency Birdstone Collective Iain Blair profiled a number of convenient packaging standouts, including Brownes Dairy's recyclable upside down yoghurt pack, SPC's differentiated pouch range, Mentos' new Velcro closure, and single-portion and shelf-stable Always Fresh Olives.

Blair advised brands to keep moving, however, as the latest packaging advances would in time be taken for granted by consumers. “What is convenient now is not convenient tomorrow,” he said.

Healthy niche

Delicious Foods Australia founder Nicole Mahler took to the stage to share the story behind the creation of her own line of healthy chilled meals, which began when her daughter adopted a vegan diet.

Australia is the third fastest growing vegan market, Mahler says, and she realised that the niche was “screaming for innovation”.

Over the past five years, she has sought to fill that gap with her convenient Dahlicious and Veglicious plant-based product lines, which boast five health stars, and are sold chilled in pouches Australia-wide.

Around the corner

More big transformational shifts are around the corner, and these could also change and disrupt the convenience game, according to Dr Angeline Achariya, CEO of the Food Innovation Centre at Monash University.

Faux ingredients such as lab-reared meat for consumers prepared to pay for guilt-free indulgence, and products targeting personalised health and nutrition are two big opportunities that are ripe for innovation, Achariya predicts.

The consumer of the future is going to demand these things,” she said.



The complex issue of balancing functional delivery and sustainability through smart packaging design and material choices was tackled by a panel session hosted by Food & Drink Business publisher Lindy Hughson and featuring Iain Blair, Angeline Achariya, Brownes Dairy marketing and sales director Natalie Sarich-Dayton, and Tetra Pak Oceania marketing director Jaymie Pagdato.


LIVE: The Convenience Culture was sponsored by Heat and Control, Flavourmakers, ADM, AUSPACK, Daylight and Ecolean.

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