Vhari Russell

We spoke to Vhari Russell, Founder of The Food Marketing Experts about the products and trends she's excited to see evolve in 2021 and what more we can do as an industry to support each other to keep our industry flourishing.

What trends AND PRODUCTS do you see being prominent in the fine food and drink industry for 2021? What's in and what’s out for 2021? 

I think we will see a continued growth in plant-based and vegan products, there will also be further growth in the CBD market and product offering.

- Added health benefits
- Personalized dietary requirement products
- Weight loss
- Fresh produce
- Home delivery and solution driven offerings
- Kids healthy offering with reduced sugar
- Provenance and British is key

I also think there will be an increase in sweet treats with more on offer with alternative sugars and reduced fat. I'm excited to see the use of new grains/pulses in baked goods and more brands moving into the fresh produce space. Also, eco credentials being a key part of a brand's makeup and the plant based offering to continue evolving.

Provenance and brand purpose and giving back will become even more important, combined with the green credentials. Consumers are so plastic conscious that they are really keen to avoid it. The effect of Blue Planet and David Attenbroughs comments have really resonated.

New Year tends to be a time for health and detoxing. What’s your top ‘no and low alcohol’ pick and what‘s your top healthy snack choice? 

I have really enjoyed two non-alcoholic products recently. They are Highball cocktails, they have a delicious range, they are refreshing and taste really good, so much so you don’t miss the alcohol. They have a great range of six cocktails, I really enjoyed the classic G & T. The other is the creation from the award winning stable of Warners Distillery their range of 0% are beautiful, delicate and refreshing. They have Juniper double dry and pink berry, both of which were a big hit.

The importance of health and you are what you eat was really brought to the fore last year with the global pandemic. So, I think we will see a lot of consumers making healthier choices and New Year, New You being even more popular. I am a big fan of cakes and I am really looking forward to the launch of the Lish range, their cake bars really deliver on flavour and all with reduced sugar.

Have you got any New Year resolutions?

A lunchtime walk everyday and to really ramp the activity around the charity I have recently launched. Eat less chocolate, read more and learn new things - this is why I am doing the cheese course.

What are your hopes for 2021 for our industry?

That we can come together and support each other, we are so much stronger together. That we don’t lose too many great businesses as a result of COVID. Working together to empower new wholesale platforms to support the independent retailers.

Where do you think the industry needs to improve in 2021?

All things green, a stronger commitment to educating consumers to understand more about the food that they eat and where it comes from. More support for British producers and British farmers. Feeding and educating children on healthy choices and trying to reduce food poverty.

We are excited to bring the community back together at Olympia in 2021. Do tell us what you love most about sourcing products from Speciality & Fine Food Fair 2021?

I think the show in September 2021 will be a real celebration of the industry, as it will have been so long since we all got together. It is always a great few days as you catch up, meet up and bump into so many contacts you haven't seen for a while.

I really enjoy the show, in particular the Discovery Zone seeing all the new innovation. I really enjoyed exploring this at the last show as I had the honour of judging the Discovery Awards.

As an agency, we are hearing lots of stories of people who have had the head space to create new products and ideas during the COVID chapter and I am excited to see this creativity coming to the fore.

Why is Speciality & Fine Food Fair important for your business?

Speciality & Fine Food Fair gives my business the platform on which to launch new clients, drive sales for existing brands and meet new clients. It offers a wonderful opportunity for the industry to come together and celebrate food, drink and the amazing people in the sector, all under one roof.