Norfolk is renowned for its unique food and drink offerings, from fresh Cromer crab and black turkey to locally-produced craft beer, famous cheeses and mustard.

Thanks to the region's rich variety of produce and convenient coastal location for international supply chains, there is ample opportunity and diversity on offer to those operating within the industry, both domestically and worldwide.

However, as 97 per cent of food and drink manufacturing businesses are small or medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), staying on top of emerging trends and making sound financial decisions is vital to ensure continued success (

Food manufacturing and agriculture are some of the industries that have been hardest hit by recent geopolitical events. The impact of Brexit and global supply chain issues in the wake of the Ukraine conflict has resulted in considerable implications for the industry, with new border controls on animal and plant products from the EU causing further delays. Many companies are also sourcing their packaging supplies from the UK to avoid ‘astronomical’ shipping costs (

However, even during these challenging times, your food and drink business can still thrive. International payment specialists, Clear Currency, can help businesses looking to trade internationally, establish an effective FX strategy to protect their bottom line from currency risk and maximise profits. Familiarising yourself with FX tools can ensure that you’re making cost-effective transactions on food packaging, ingredients and labour recruitment.

Below, Clear Currency shares five emerging trends that are having a significant impact on the food and drink industry.

1) Organic ingredients

As the public becomes increasingly conscious of environmental and health issues, many food and drink companies will need to consider overhauling their approach to sourcing ingredients. People's desire to eat more healthily and avoid artificial ingredients or heavily-processed products, has led to a steady increase in organic food sales in recent years.

Thanks to the established agricultural industry in Norfolk, many local suppliers have access to an abundance of high-quality products. For example, farms such as Deepdale and Bagthorpe in North Norfolk are using regenerative farming techniques free of artificial pesticides to improve their organic yields such as barley, wheat, vegetables and beef cattle.

Eastern Daily Press: Many Norfolk agricultural businesses are using regenerative farming techniques to improve their organic produceMany Norfolk agricultural businesses are using regenerative farming techniques to improve their organic produce (Image: Getty Images/iStockphoto)

2) Sustainable and ethical products

Across the food and beverage industry, sustainability is becoming a key trend for consumer preference. According to the Ethical Consumer Markets Report 2021, sales of ethical food products increased by 12.3 per cent in 2020, including free-range and Fairtrade products.

As well as growing concerns for animal welfare, the impact of agricultural production on the planet is impossible to ignore. The agricultural industry produces more greenhouse gasses than any other sector in methane (, which has no doubt contributed to the reduction in meat and dairy consumption.

Food and drink sellers need to note the shifting tastes of their customers and familiarise themselves with the changes made by their competitors and large international companies. Several major brands are taking part in the FDF (Food and Drink Federation) ‘Ambition 2025’ plan for a sustainable future; Heineken has pledged to sustainably source 50 per cent of raw materials by 2020, whilst Coca-Cola has launched a recyclable PlantBottle (Leisure F&B).

Many Norfolk producers have already vowed to become sustainable businesses, but keeping up with the increasing demands of consumers will take constant vigilance.

3) Locally-sourced produce

In line with the trend for mindful consumption, the demand for locally-sourced food and drink is also on the rise. Following the damaging effect of the Covid-19 pandemic on small businesses, coupled with the impact of rising energy costs, supporting the local economy while reducing food miles has become a primary concern.

One of the key assets to Norfolk's food and drink industry is the delicious local produce. Samphire, a sea vegetable that flourishes within the salt marshes of North Norfolk, is a shining example of the county's farm-to-fork fare which is sold by local fishmongers and coastal restaurants.

4) Zero waste

Many businesses are committing to zero waste pledges to become more eco-friendly. There's a sound economic reason for it too, as a 2021 study revealed that one in three consumers claimed to have stopped purchasing from specific brands over concerns about sustainability and waste production (Deloitte).

Eastern Daily Press: An increasing number of food and drink businesses are taking steps towards reducing their waste and becoming net zeroAn increasing number of food and drink businesses are taking steps towards reducing their waste and becoming net zero (Image: Drink manufacturing can reduce their waste during production to become net zero)

Dash Water, a producer of fruit and vegetable-infused waters, founded by London-based entrepreneurs Jack Scott and Alex Wright in 2017, has demonstrated a successful zero waste strategy. To combat the 40 per cent of wasted fruit and veg from farms, they avoid discarding produce that arrives misshapen, bruised or bumped – as is the common practice. The company has also achieved carbon neutral status by measuring and offsetting its CO2 emissions from fruit production, packaging manufacturing and delivery.

With the trend for net zero and zero waste food production gaining momentum, it could be worthwhile for more businesses to follow the example set by Dash Water and other carbon neutral brands.

5) Plant-based alternatives

Undoubtedly, the most significant food trend in recent years is the growing popularity of vegetarian and vegan diets. Driven by health and environmental influences, the demand for plant-based alternatives has transformed the food and drink industry, with the market set for further growth as the quality and choice of meat-free and dairy-free products continue to improve.

There is an increasing number of food service businesses reaping the benefits of this trend by including plant-based alternatives as part of their offering. Norfolk is no exception, with the likes of Tipsy Vegan and Namaste Village among the ever-growing list of vegan and vegetarian establishments opening in recent years.

How Clear Currency can help food and drink businesses

The food and drink market is forever shifting, with popular trends being seized upon and then discarded in a matter of months. As supply and labour shortages pose an ever-present threat, it’s vital to have a clear FX strategy to safeguard your financial affairs at home and abroad.

Clear Currency's specialists can guide businesses through the challenges of fluctuating markets by utilising effective FX tools to mitigate financial risk. From using forward contracts to lock in a favourable exchange rate for up to 12 months, to accessing live exchange rates so you can keep a close eye on your transactions, their services can help to futureproof your finances.

Clear Currency's online payments platform allows you to make international payments across 35 currencies in 130 countries. Stay ahead of the curve - reach out to one of our specialists today.

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