Addressing the need for transparency and trust will continue to be one of the crucial food and beverage trends next year. Here are Mintel’s global food and drink trends for 2018, with ideas about how brands and retailers can better meet consumer needs:
Consumers have come to expect the use of natural ingredients, ethical sourcing and positive environmental performance; they also expect such information to be easily accessible. According to Mintel, 29% of new food and beverage launches between September 2016 and August 2017 made natural product claims (no additives/preservatives, organic and GMO-free), up from 17% a decade previous.
As Mintel notes, "Widespread distrust has increased the need for food and drink manufacturers to be forthcoming about their ingredients, production processes, and supply chains." Reportedly, only one in five Canadian adults believes health claims on food and beverage packaging. For Chinese grocery shoppers in the 20-49 age group, 45% of them identify food safety as a top three concern when choosing a retailer.
Here are some steps that brands can take to boost confidence:
Shoppers are looking for products that support their nutritional, physical and emotional needs. Permitting oneself to enjoy treats is an essential component of self-care that targets stress relief.
Mintel believes that consumers will seek "ingredients, products and combinations of food and drink that provide nutrition, physical or emotional benefits that advance their priorities for self-care." There will be a need, the report concludes, for a range of product formats, formulations, and portion sizes that present consumers with positive choices from which to address their particular needs.
Teens and young adults in particular are looking for new taste experiences. Mintel says texture will lead the way in 2018: "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."
Just more than one-half of Chinese consumers in the 20-49 age range who eat biscuits or crackers identify layers of coating or filling as an essential quality. Forty-three percent of Chinese tea drinkers in the same demographic are interested in ready-to-drink options with fruit bits. One-third of the 20-49 group would prefer yogurt would contain cereal, grains or seeds.
Brands are responding by emphasizing the texture of existing products as well as through innovation. For example, in May 2017, Oreo offered a limited edition cookie that contained popping candy inside of the cream filling. In Australia, Coca-Cola launched Fanta Sour Tingle, which is described as "bursting with extreme sourness."
As online and mobile food shopping continues to expand, shoppers are sampling various channels and technologies to save time, effort and perhaps money. Technology can be leveraged to make personalized recommendations, cross-category pairings and provide other help. Consumers are interested in other benefits as well. In the UK, 35% of online shoppers reported that being able to add products to their grocery order through voice command technology was appealing.
Regarding opportunities, Mintel notes that 36% of U.S. consumers say that planning meals and eating occasions take up more time and effort than they would prefer. As such, targeted recipe suggestions generated to complement item selection might be well received.
According to Mintel, technology will start to disrupt the food industry in 2018, as products from laboratories begin to displace those from farms and factories. Technology could provide food which is more nutritious, consistent, and pure. Laboratory produced products could also be more sustainable. Impossible Foods says that its plant-based burger uses 95% less land, 74% less water, and creates 87% less greenhouse gas emissions than the current meat supply chain.
Another example of science-based food is Perfect Day, a startup which has created cow-free dairy products. It uses yeast and fermentation to produce the same milk proteins that cows make, which is then blended with plant-based sugar, fat, and minerals.
The report concludes that in 2018, manufacturers and retailers will have opportunities to restore consumer trust while providing products that help them to manage stress and ensure memorable food experiences. At the same time, scientific engineering is making possible a new assortment of sustainable foods and beverages which will increasingly find their way into the marketplace.