As the Executive Director of Food and Consumer Trends at Rabobank, Nick Fereday brings an invaluable perspective to the FoodBytes! table, offering over a decade of insight and knowledge on what makes consumers tick and how that drives trends.

As a mentor to the pitch companies at FoodBytes! Montreal, Nick stressed the idea that the food industry is changing faster than ever before. Businesses that understand and harness key trends are the ones that will survive. This doesn’t mean jumping on every fad that passes, it means reading the market and giving consumers what they want at the right time. We chatted with Nick in Montreal (check out the video below!) on a few consumer trends that are making waves: plant-based foods, cellular agriculture and supply chain transparency.

Out with vegan, in with plant-based

Plant-based foods and the decisive move away from labelling food ‘vegan products’ is an interesting trend to Nick, because it proves trends don’t follow calendars and they don’t always happen overnight. The change can be more deep-rooted and evolving, meaning producers, manufacturers and distributors need to go with the flow if they want to stay involved.   

Expanding access to healthy food

Affordable health food is another big talking point. Nick applauded one savvy entrepreneur he’d spoken to at FoodBytes! Montreal who suggested ‘consumers shouldn’t have to trade health for wealth’. But, the fact is health foods tend to be premium, expensive products, and that’s becoming a sticking point for a lot of entrepreneurs. The search for healthy and affordable has spurred new business models that embrace dynamic pricing, one-for-one subscriptions and other smart solutions that help bring healthy food to the masses, without breaking the bank.

“I think passion is a word that’s overused when it comes to food, but the groups I worked with in Montreal were bubbling with questions, stories, struggles and opportunities, and using all of them to move their businesses forward,” said Nick. “From a mentor’s perspective, that’s interesting!”

About Nick Fereday

Prior to joining Rabobank, he was a Senior Economist and Vice President of Sales, Research & Marketing, at LMC International, an independent economic and business consultancy for the agribusiness sector. Prior to LMC, Nick worked as a Senior Research Economist for The Natural Resources Institute in the U.K. Additionally he has worked as a freelance economic journalist, a Senior Economist with the Government of Papua New Guinea, as well as a lecturer/tutor in Applied Economics. Nick holds a M.Sc. in Agricultural Economics from Reading University in the U.K.

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