Research firm Mintel has identified five food trends that will have their impact on consumers, retailers and manufacturers next year. The “Global Food & Drink Trends 2018” report brings together insights from sixty analysts in about a dozen countries.
1. Total openness
In a post-truth and fake news world, consumers demand full transparency from food companies. Scandals, product recalls and overall suspicion towards major companies have not helped consumer trust: customers expect clarity about food products’ safety and provenance. Manufactures have answered those with “organic”, “no additives”, “ecological” and “animal-friendly” claims, but those do not suffice. It is about total openness regarding the how, where, when and who harvested, manufactured or sold a product. The rise in apps displaying where a product came from, is a telling sign. Having a local product is a plus: 70 % of Italians, 66 % of French, 58 % of Spaniards, 56 % of Germans and 55 % of Polish people are more likely to trust a manufacturer that creates something in their own country. This trend should also encourage retailers to provide information about their own private labels’ provenance.
2. Looking for balance
People are looking for ways to banish the negativity out of their lives and to take better care of themselves. That is why they strive for a healthy way of life with a balanced diet and plenty of “me-time”. Contrary reports on what is healthy are stressful already however. Should we avoid sugar, fat or additives? As a counter, consumers start paying attention to what is in their food. That is a positive approach, which leads to more focus on organic and plant-based ingredients (seeds, grains, herbs, …). At the same time, people want to grant themselves a treat to relax, to let go of the stress, which plays in to the hand of “responsible” snacks. The industry taps into this evolution with controlled portions and altered compositions. This allows consumers to choose based on their nutritional, physical or emotional needs.
3. Texture is everything
At their peak, eating and drinking both activate different senses. Shape and colour are important (consider: Instagram and Pinterest), but texture offers now ways to differentiate. A unique sensation in the mouth (ice cream with crispy chunks) or a distinctive sound (like when you bite into a crispy cracker) can make the difference. Mintel forecasts a lot of Asian-based food items with unique and unexpected textures will come our way. Sparkling sodas with pulp, layered cakes, a combination of juices and seeds… Particularly younger generations are willing to give new experiences a try.
4. Things are getting personal
Consumers are interested in new channels and technologies, those that help save them time and money. Think about subscriptions, voice-operated apps like Amazon Echo and Google Home or smart vending machines that enable personalized discounts. Amazon’s Whole Foods acquisition is all about data, in an attempt to get a better view of consumer behavior and therefore target discounts. Personalized offers appeal to consumers if they can see a clear advantage: an app that helps them shop more efficiently, recipe suggestions based on your shopping list, recommendations based on your purchase history… If consumers place convenience, value and time above brands, name brand manufacturers will face pressure to become more relevant, more efficient and more accessible. One such example is Brandless, an American web shop that sells brand-free quality food at a fixed price of three dollars.
5. Technology as a disruptor
Speaking about technology: a lot of manufacturers are developing solutions to replace traditional agricultural and productional methods with advanced methods like stemcel culture and 3D printing. Companies like Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods are setting the pace. 26 % of Spaniards, 13 % of Polish people, 11 % of French people, 9 % of Italians and 8 % of Germans are positive about lab meat. People who are worried about the environment are more easily convinced about this technology, but there are other arguments to be made in favour of technology: clarity, efficiency, consistency. Indoor farming does not use as much water, can be done without pesticides and has a more consistent quality. Mintel does not doubt that technology will trample the traditional food chain. What do you think?