If you’re searching for unique food business ideas that leverage emerging trends and benefit from a widespread appeal, you’ve come to the right place. In this article, we examine ten innovative food business concepts that have the potential to make it big over the coming year and put your new enterprise on the map.
Design-your-own-ice cream delivery
Ice cream is an evergreen food. Its popularity may be seasonal but, come summer, it is always a hit. However, ice cream’s consistent performance does not mean it is impervious to trends. Over the years, we’ve seen artisanal gelato come and go, watched as Ben & Jerry’s nailed funky flavours and experienced a surge in organic ice cream.
In 2023, why not consider looking into a design-your-own-ice cream service where customers can create their own unique flavour combinations online and have the result shipped to their homes? It’s a concept that incorporates two main drivers in the modern food industry: home delivery and personalisation.
Before you begin, you’ll need to overcome a few challenges. Firstly, business owners will need to work out the logistics involved in shipping frozen food. If you’re an entrepreneur, you’ll need to ensure that the manufacturing processes involved in personalising individual flavours are economically viable. After all, the potential for customised ice cream flavours is huge.
Online cooking classes with delivery boxes
Throughout the pandemic, pick-your-meal delivery boxes that provide all the ingredients customers need to cook their chosen dishes were a massive success. HelloFresh and Gousto are the two biggest names in the market and they’ve continued to enjoy excellent performance figures years after the pandemic lockdowns ended.
But what about a food business that combines online cookery classes with a delivery service? It’s a concept that could work in several ways. Firstly, online tutorials could be pre-recorded to reduce initial investment costs and ensure a large library of recipes are available. Alternatively, your business could act as a marketplace that connects amateur cooks with cookery teachers who want to offer online classes. It would be similar to how language sites match tutors with pupils and Training Peaks match athletes with coaches.
This unique food business idea also taps into two popular phenomena. While a delivery service ensures customers have all they need to participate in the classes without having to go to the shops (replicating Gousto and HelloFresh’s successful business model), the learning element speaks to customers’ desire to learn new skills and enjoy experiential products. This trend emerged in the pandemic (who didn’t try their hand at baking, kombucha brewing or pizza-making at some point?) but lost none of its steam as we returned to something approaching normality.
Food trucks have long been a go-to food business idea for culinary entrepreneurs looking to get their foot in the door with a business that does not depend on enormous start-up costs. However, some experts believe the food truck market is becoming increasingly saturated, making it difficult for new businesses to leave their mark.
Fortunately, an alternative is emerging. Supper clubs are the trendy successor to the food truck and they fill the gap in the market that exists between meals-on-wheels and traditional restaurants. Usually held in the cook’s own home or a small, low-key property that does not charge high-end rents, supper clubs allow you to serve the food you’re passionate about to a relatively small number of people in an intimate setting.
One of the biggest bonuses of the supper club business model is that it cuts out one of a restaurateur’s most significant expenditures – the business premises. You benefit from much more freedom when you don’t pay extortionate rent. You no longer have to open every night. You can easily adjust and adapt your menu whenever you like. Ultimately, less of your income goes into paying the rent, so you pocket more of the profit.
Lunchtime tiffin service
In some parts of the world, most notably India, tiffin lunch services are incredibly popular. Essentially, tiffin services pick up home-cooked meals from people’s residences, transport them in cylindrical metal containers to the office (often via bicycle, then train and bicycle again) and then reverse the process once the meal is finished.
A few things would have to change for the food business idea to work in the UK. For instance, the business would have to cook the food as both adults in many UK families work. However, this would also simplify the process as tiffin containers would not need to be picked up and dropped off at hundreds of different locations. You would also have to prepare the meals at a relatively low cost while ensuring they taste delicious. In this respect, economies of scale are crucial.
However, there are loads of things going for UK tiffin services. Office workers often spend a considerable amount of money on a packaged sandwich and a packet of crisps. Many would jump at the chance to enjoy a tasty, hot meal delivered right to their desk. Entrepreneurs could also take a leaf out of Indian dabbawalas’ (tiffin deliverers) books and deliver via bicycle, putting a green, eco-friendly spin on the business.
Non-alcoholic cocktails and bars
The growing body of evidence that suggests all alcohol is bad for you, no matter how little you consume, is causing a growing number of consumers to turn to non-alcoholic alternatives. However, if you’re out on the town or want to enjoy something a little more special at home, the traditional array of soft drinks doesn’t always cut it. Sometimes, you want something that looks spectacular and tastes even better.
For entrepreneurs looking for a unique food business idea, this could lead in one of two directions. Non-alcoholic bars are already emerging in a few ahead-of-the-curve cities such as New York, but they’re still in their infancy in the UK. This means new bar owners would get in on the ground floor and benefit from the initial hype and inevitable media coverage as the scene takes off. Non-alcoholic bars also work because everyone needs a place to gather and socialise – whether they drink alcohol or not.
Alternatively, entrepreneurs might want to develop their own non-alcoholic canned cocktails to sell in bars, pubs and restaurants around the country. While this may be a tougher business to break into, it does benefit from a larger market share as the drinks would be available in a wider variety of venues.
Artisanal instant coffee
If you look at the artisanal food boom and how it affected a remarkably diverse range of industries, one sector stands out in particular. No business has been reinvigorated quite as extensively as coffee. From new blends to out-there brewing technologies, coffee shops and suppliers have benefited from a renewed focus on carefully prepared, high-quality products that are presented in interesting and exciting ways.
The artisanal coffee movement saw vast swathes of the UK population move away from their traditional buying behaviours and ditch instant coffee for freshly ground beans. However, the sector seems to be coming full circle as coffee suppliers focus on creating new artisanal instant coffees for consumption at home and in cafes.
For entrepreneurs looking for a food product with an established customer base that will also benefit from plenty of interest, instant coffee may be the way to go. As new technology and production techniques bring instant closer to the expresso-prepared brews we are now accustomed to, the former’s easy convenience will likely prove appealing to millions around the country.
Eliminating food waste
With the current cost of living crisis and growing concerns over the food industry’s environmental impact, there is considerable consumer interest in minimising food waste. One way to help people limit waste and build a sustainable enterprise would be to create a business that delivers zero-waste meals or teaches people how to use every part of their ingredients.
For instance, a delivery service that linked different meals and ingredients together could be popular. After eating chicken and veg on the first day, the bones and offcuts could then be made into a stock that serves as the base for the next day’s soup. Peels and fruit cores can be turned into delicious jams or aromatic olive oil infusions. And leftovers can be transformed into entirely new meals.
This unique food business idea works because it accommodates consumers’ move towards more environmentally-friendly products and acknowledges that many people want to do more with less. While coming up with new ways to minimise food waste may be challenging, there is also a lot of scope for innovation – something that many entrepreneurs excel at.
The rise of the table beer
Every few years, the alcohol industry finds itself in thrall to the latest beverage trend. Over the years, we’ve had Babycham, alcopops, artisan gins and the craft beer explosion. Historically, each trend contains the seed of its successor. And we believe the rising popularity of table beers is no different.
Emerging out of the resoundingly successful craft ale movement that firmly established itself on the UK food and beverage scene, table beer adopts the full-flavoured, emphasis-on-artisanal approach associated with craft brewers. However, it drastically reduces the alcohol content, resulting in a drink that is less strong and more accessible.
In an age where 5.5% beers are everywhere and drinkers are starting to realise that high-strength is not always best, there is a definite gap in the market for sub-3% table beers.
There is no shortage of studies showing that people would rather spend their money on experiences than products. For instance, research conducted by Momentum Worldwide suggests that 76% of consumers prefer spending on experiences over material items. However, we think something less straightforward is taking place; we argue that consumers now want their products to be experiential.
This is not necessarily a new food business idea. After all, dining out already combines experience (the restaurant ambience and the company) and a product (the food). However, there is a growing emphasis on the experiential side of things. This is backed up by the growing popularity of experiential dining experiences where great food is complemented by immersive theatrics, unique locations or sensory manipulation.
Think murder mystery dinners in old hotels, cabaret-style extravaganzas, speakeasies or restaurants where you’re blindfolded and have to rely on taste alone. The great thing about this type of business is that it encourages creativity and is very social media friendly. These are the kind of places that look great on an influencer’s Instagram page and can begin to trend quickly.
Kelp farmers to the rescue
If you’re on the hunt for the next superfood to build a hugely successful business off the back of, look no further. 2023 will be the year kelp hits the mainstream. A type of seaweed that grows in underwater “forests,” kelp is being touted as the next big thing for two reasons.
Firstly, it absorbs carbon as it grows, making it an eco-friendly, sustainable crop that positively impacts the environment. Secondly, it’s packed full of useful nutrients and plant-based proteins. In this sense, it appeals to the growing number of consumers who want to pursue a healthy lifestyle but are concerned about where they will get all the goodness they need.
Kelp is also supremely versatile. You can find it in sauces, salads, noodles and burgers. This means that entrepreneurs can adapt the ingredient for a wide range of uses and products but still benefit from kelp’s on-trend popularity.
Protecting your new business
At Park Insurance, we have considerable experience working alongside new and existing food businesses to offer them security and protection in a fast-paced and ever-evolving commercial environment. From food trucks and catering businesses to suppliers and cafes, all food businesses require insurance that’s specifically tailored to their needs.
Our team of expert insurance professionals can help you calculate the type of insurance you need and provide policies that offer total peace of mind. Want to learn more about our policies or what insurance your business may need? Call us at 0117 955 6835, drop us an email or fill in our contact form. We can’t wait to join you on your exciting business journey!