Food has long played a central role in shaping our identity. Kuudes’ Insight Specialist Saara Järvinen raises the question: Could the era of food as a megatrend be coming to an end?

Regardless of the turmoil of recent years, people’s criteria around food are seemingly stable. However, let’s dig deeper. What can we learn from the changes in data from our Informed Consumer study between 2019 and 2023. How has our relationship to food evolved? 

Swedes and Finns have a different relationship to food 

As we’ve seen before, purchase criteria in Finland and Sweden are distinctly different. When comparing the two markets, it is evident that Swedes still place a higher value on naturalness and ethical factors, whereas Finns are more focused on functionality, caring about price and health, and expect familiar products. While the Finns want to support domestic production, the Swedish value locality: which might mean very different things depending on the case and context. 

Criteria that stand out in Sweden  

  • Naturalness 
  • Organic 
  • Locality 
  • Small impact on climate 
  • Consideration of animal welfare 

Criteria that stand out in Finland 

  • Domesticity
  • Affordability
  • Health benefits
  • Familiarity
  • Quick to prepare

Practical viewpoints gain importance – even in Sweden

As we could expect, affordability is a strongly growing need in both countries. The times of crisis have not caused a dramatic drop in ethical viewpoints. However, the data suggests that, in addition to price, other practical viewpoints such as effortlessness are becoming more important. Effortlessness in preparation has made its way into the top five food criteria in both countries, at the cost of other more emotional values. The home-cooking trend that we witnessed during Covid has faded long ago. 

Strikingly, in Finland our data shows that an increasing amount of people think it is enough that food fill stomachs.

Simple needs and simple pleasures

The number of people naming food as a factor contributing to their well-being has significantly decreased in both countries. Criticism is growing louder against societal pressure around wellbeing or even orthorexia in our prevailing food culture. 

For a long time, food has been a central question of identity. Now we ask ourselves: Is the era of food as a megatrend coming to an end? What do we desire from food? Are we going back to basics, seeing food just as food? Or is economic hardship and war causing only a temporary drop in the hype? Certainly, after years of austerity, there is a longing for extravagant luxury experiences.

What we do know is that convenience will be key. New technologies and services might make our selection processes and daily logistics so convenient, that we will regain energy for creativity and questions of identity. It is certain that during this era of compromises it is important to show empathy and help people in staying true to their values.

What is the Informed Consumer study?

Kuudes has conducted the Informed Consumer study since 2008. The last time it was implemented before the pandemic in 2019, and in 2023 the data was updated using both quantitative (online survey with the sample size of N=1000 in Finland and Sweden) and qualitative methods (N=9 interviews). The segments of consumers have been formed from the data, each with their different values, expectations and ways of relating to life. 

Read more about the study and download the report below.

Download Report