Global food & drink trends 2018

Tuesday, 30 January, 2018 Food From Poland 30/2018
Many consumers around the world lack trust in regulatory systems, manufacturers, and even their fellow humans. This compounds a pre-existing wariness about food and drink because of product recalls, scandals, and suspicion about large companies. The convergence of skepticism extends and enhances the existing consumer interest in the origins of food and drink that has been present (in some markets) for the past decade.

Full disclosure

The need for reassurance about the safety and trustworthiness of food and drink has led to increased use of natural, as well as ethical and environmental, claims in global food and drink launches. According to Mintel Global New Products Database (GNPD), natural product claims (which include no additives/preservatives, organic and GMO-free) appeared on 29% of global food and drink launches from September 2016 to August 2017, which is an increase from 17% of global food and drink launches that used natural claims from September 2006 to August 2007. Similarly, ethical and environmental claims, such as environmentally friendly packaging as well as animal and human welfare claims, have risen to 22% of global food and drink introductions between September 2016 and August 2017 from just 1% in the same period from 2006-07.

As shown by the growth in natural, ethical, and environmental claims, widespread distrust has increased the need for food and drink manufacturers to be forthcoming about their ingredients, production processes, and supply chains. This places pressure on manufacturers to offer thorough and honest disclosures about how, where, when, and by whom food and drink is grown, harvested, made, and/or sold. Food and drink transparency can take many different directions, but the various claims serve a singular purpose: to help consumers feel more confident about the safetyand purity of the food and drink that they purchase.

Where Next?

In addition to disclosing more specific transparency details, the next wave of clean label challenges manufacturers and retailers to democratise transparency and traceability so that products are accessible to all consumers regardless of household income. Making transparency attainable to all consumers reflects the principles of Mintel’s 2017 Global Food & Drink Trend “Balancing the Scales: Health for Everyone” which noted that healthy food and drink are not to be considered luxuries. Similarly, transparency will soon be expected as a claim that will be affordable and accessible to more consumers. The market is moving in that direction as e-commerce giant Amazon’s acquisition of premium grocer Whole Foods Market has the goal of making “high-quality, natural and organic food affordable for everyone” according to the company. Retailers also have an opportunity to share more information, which could appeal to the one quarter of Brazilian grocery retail shoppers who would like to know more about how private label products are made.

self-fulfilling practices

The frantic pace of modern life, constant connectivity, pervasive distrust, and contentious tones in politics and the media have caused many consumers to look for ways to escape negativity in their lives. Many people who feel overwhelmed are focusing on “self-care,” or prioritising time and efforts dedicated to themselves. Approaches to personal well-being vary by individual, but are increasingly marked by consumers developing their own unique definitions of healthy diets and lifestyles that often include following balanced diets and allotting time for relaxation.The challenge of determining the elements of a healthy diet can contribute to negativity and stress because consumers are bombarded with potentially conflicting reports as to which ingredients are recommended and which ones should be avoided.

Where Next?

In 2018, individual definitions of self-care and balance will reinforce the need for a variety of food and drink products that present consumers with positive solutions that can be incorporated into their customised and flexible definitions of health and wellness. This creates openings in the market for a variety of formats, formulations, and portion sizes of food and drink that provide consumers with options that can fit their individual diet plan and their current – or aspirational – mood. Indeed, self-care-focussed consumers will be looking for ingredients, products, and combinations that address nutritional, physical, or emotional benefits

New Sensations

Encounters that appeal to multiple senses can provide consumers with escapes from the routine and stress of their lives, opportunities to make memories, or generate “like-worthy” social media posts. Mintel’s 2016 Global Food & Drink Trend ‘Eat With Your Eyes’ observed the potential for food and drink to involve more of the senses through colour, shape, fragrance, and other formulation elements. In 2018, the sound, feel, and satisfaction that texture provides will become more important to companies and consumers alike. Of the various sensory-engaging properties identified in ‘Eat WithYour Eyes,’ texture has a particular opportunity to follow the lead of colour, which has become a popular feature in formulations that aim to allure more of the senses. Food and drink products have used a variety of ingredients, such as turmeric, matcha, and activated charcoal, to create vibrantly hued drinks, snacks, and other food that attracts attention, especially on Instagram, Pinterest, and other image-centric media. Colour will continue to be important, but texture is the next facet of formulation that can be leveraged to provide consumers with interactive – and documentation-worthy – experiences. From chewy beverages to complex formulations such as creamy ice cream with crispy chunks, texture can make products more captivating for consumers who continue to seek food and drink that is perceived as fresh, functional, filling, or simply fun.

Where Next?

In 2018, more products can be developed with combinations of textures that surprise and delight consumers. As with colour, more companies have the opportunity to add texture via natural ingredients, such as the pulp of fruit or vegetables, the tingle of spicy peppers, or carbonation resulting from fermentation as with kombucha. Production processes also can be utilised to enhance or innovate around texture, such as freeze-drying fruit for snacking or twice-baking salty snacks.

In particular, food and drink designed with additional textures has the potential to engage younger iGeneration consumers who are hungry for experiences.

Preferential treatment

Motivated by the potential to save time and ideally money, consumers are sampling a variety of channels and technologies when shopping for food and drink. The latest evolutions in shopping offer consumers prompt and affordable delivery, a curated adventure courtesy of subscription services, ease of automatic replenishment, and simplicity of synchronisation with smart home devices. Busy consumers are drawn to e-commerce sites, mobile apps, voice control, and other online and mobile options because they are advantageous to their busy schedules and potentially their budgets. For example, 65% of Chinese consumers aged 20-49 now use their mobile phone more than a desktop or laptop for online grocery shopping, which is significant given that 77% have shopped at online grocers for home delivery.

As technology helps to make shopping as effortless as possible, an era of targetted promotions and products is emerging. The adoption of voice-enabled smart home accessories, such as Amazon Echo or Google Home, will make it easier to add items to shopping lists, a feature of interest to the 35% of UK online grocery shoppers who, according to Mintel, agree the ability to add products to their grocery order through voice command technology is appealing. On the supplier side, brands, companies, and retailers can leverage technology to establish new levels of efficienc, such as customised recommendations, cross-category pairings, and resourceful solutions that save consumers time, effort, and energy. Beyond convenience, technology will offer new possibilities for personalised recommendations of products and individually targetted promotions. For example, The Coca-Cola Company has developed a smart vending machine that enables personalised offers and mobile purchases. Chinese e-commerce company Alibaba introduced physical Hema markets where shoppers must use a mobile app that provides efficient and personalised shopping experiences. Meanwhile, e-commerce giant Amazon’s acquisition of Whole Foods Market and a partnership between Walmart and Google will likely provide consumers with targetted promotions, suggestions, and innovations that capitalise on online, as well as offline, shopping behaviours. By combining consumer insights on purchases, as well as other online activities, companies and retailers can target individuals based on their habits and preferences both in the store and online.

Science fare

A technological revolution is playing out in manufacturing as some forward-looking companies are developing solutions to replace traditional farms and factories with scientifically engineered ingredients and finished products. Enterprising companies are building on advancements in technology, including stem cell cultures and 3D printing, to replicate nature in controlled environments. Developments that engineer food and drink staples such as laboratory-grown meat and animal-free dairy have grabbed headlines in the last five years, but the resulting products are often expensive and some are still years away from widespread commercial availability. However, investments, such as those made by General Mills, Tyson, Cargill, Unilever, and tech billionaire Bill Gates, have hastened the pace of development and availability of scientifically engineered food and drink.In 2017, 26% of Spanish, 13% of Polish, 11% of French, 9% of Italian, and 8% of German consumers aged 16+ agree that lab-grown, cultured, or synthetic meat appeals to them. Pioneering products may encourage consumers to think differently about how scientifically engineered products could benefit the traditional food and drink supply, especially the potential to alleviate some of the pressure that our global food supply is under. Forward-looking companies are raising awareness by putting their products into perspective compared with the traditional food and drink supply chain. US company Beyond Meat notes that when consumers purchase its prepared meals, which are produced in partnership with General Mills, “the consumer is lending Mother Nature a helping hand and positively impacting climate change by conserving water, energy and land.” Fellow plant-based meat company Impossible Foods gets more specific, defining that plant-based burger uses 95% less land, 74% less water, and creates 87% less greenhouse gas emissions than the current meat supply chain.

where next?

Technology will begin to disrupt the traditional food chain in 2018 as enterprising manufacturers aim to replace farms and factories with laboratories. An important aspect to capture consumers will be that products provide acceptable substitutions to their harvested counterparts, such as the quarter of UK consumers who agree that meat substitutes that are similar in taste, texture, and/or appearance to real meat appeal to them. Technology also could eventually be used to design food and drink that is inherently more nutritious, which presents the potential to extend the audience of scientifically engineered food and drink to reach nutrition-conscious consumers.

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