Five global food and drink trends for 2018

Mintel has announced five key trends set to impact the global food and drink market in 2018.

The rapid expansion in the variety of food and drink retail channels will fuel the opportunity for recommendations, promotions and product innovations that are personalised based on individual consumer behaviour, says Mintel. Forward-looking companies are developing solutions to replace traditional farms and factories with scientifically engineered ingredients and finished products.

Looking ahead to 2018, Mintel’s global food and drink analyst Jenny Zegler discusses the major trends predicted to play out in food and drink markets around the world, beginning with the trends that will gain wider traction in the months ahead to emerging trends that are influential, but just on the fringe in many regions.

1) Full disclosure

“In our new post-truth reality, consumers require complete and total transparency from food and drink companies,” Zegler says.

Widespread distrust 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. 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.

In addition to more specific product details, the next wave of clean label will challenge manufacturers and retailers to democratise transparency and traceability so that products are accessible to all consumers regardless of household income.

2) Self-fulfilling practices

Zegler adds, “As more consumers find modern life to be hectic and stressful, flexible and balanced diets will become integral elements of self-care routines.”

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.

Looking ahead, individual definitions of self-care and balance will reinforce the need for a variety of formats, formulations and portion sizes of food and drink that present consumers with positive solutions — and treats — that can be incorporated into their customised and flexible definitions of health and wellness.

Going forward, more consumers will be looking for ingredients, products and combinations of food and drink that provide nutrition, physical or emotional benefits that advance their priorities for self-care.

3) New sensations

“Texture is the latest tool to engage the senses and deliver share-worthy experiences,” says Zegler.

In 2018, the sound, feel and satisfaction that texture provides will become more important for food and drink companies and consumers alike. Texture is the next facet of formulation that can be leveraged to provide consumers with interactive — and documentation-worthy — experiences.

The quest for experiences will provide opportunities for multi-sensory food and drink that uses unexpected texture to provide consumers, especially the teens and young adults of the iGeneration, with tangible connections to the real world, as well as moments worth sharing either in-person or online.

4) Preferential treatment

Zegler comments, “A new era in personalisation is dawning due to the expansion of online and mobile food shopping.”

As technology helps to make shopping as effortless as possible, an era of targeted promotions and products is emerging. 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, including home delivery, subscription services and automatic replenishment.

Companies and retailers can leverage technology to establish new levels of efficiency, such as customised recommendations, cross-category pairings and resourceful solutions that save consumers time, effort and energy.

Opportunities exist for companies to tempt consumers by creating products, suggesting combinations of goods and other options across consumer categories that make shopping more efficient and affordable for customers.

5) Science fare

Zegler states, “Technology is being used to engineer solutions for our stretched global food supply.”

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.

In 2018, technology will begin to disrupt the traditional food chain as enterprising manufacturers aim to replace farms and factories with laboratories. While lab, cultured or synthetic food and drink is only just emerging, technology could eventually be used to design food and drink that is inherently more nutritious, which could extend the consumer audience for scientifically engineered food and drink beyond environmentally conscious shoppers to reach consumers who are concerned about ingredient consistency, efficacy and purity.

Zegler says, “In 2018, Mintel foresees opportunities for manufacturers and retailers to help consumers regain trust in food and drink and to relieve stress through balanced diets as well as memorable eating and drinking experiences.

“There also is an exciting new chapter dawning in which technology will help brands and retailers forge more personalised connections with shoppers, while enterprising companies are using scientific engineering to create an exciting new generation of sustainable food and drink.”

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