‘Tis the season…not just for holiday meal planning and shopping, but also for the annual publication of food trend “lists” that outline what we can expect to see in the coming year. Kicked off by Mintel with their 2018 Global Food & Drink Trends, here’s the first list of what to watch for in 2018:
Total Transparency: There is general mistrust of regulatory systems, concern for food safety, skepticism about health claims, and questions about the overall food supply chain. The result is greater consumer interest in understanding where their food comes from and growing demand for products that are (believably) natural, environmentally friendly, and ethically sourced/manufactured. Companies are expected to be fully transparent about their ingredients, production processes and supply chains. Consumers want to feel more confident about the safety and purity of the food and drinks they purchase. Transparency takes many forms: knowing where a product is made, how farmers/growers are supported, the heritage of growing regions, preference for local or domestic supply and production, and how animals are treated are just a few examples. Understanding what transparency means to your consumers will be imperative to “getting it right” for your products.
“Self-care” through personalized diets that are flexible and balanced: The current pace of life, constant connectivity, and pervasive sense of distrust and contention have many people prioritizing time and effort on their own personal well-being. Conflicting reports about what is and is not good for you have driven consumers to create their own definitions of a “healthy, balanced diet and lifestyle.” Some do it by avoiding sugar, salt, and fat. Increasingly, though, people are taking a more affirmative approach based on the positive contributions that foods and ingredients offer, particularly those that are plant-based: fruits, vegetables, grains, seeds, herbs, spices, and botanicals. They also allow themselves an occasional treat, “changing the definition of permissible indulgence from a rare feast to habitual better-for-you treats that are an indispensable element of a balanced lifestyle.” For example, 57% of US fruit consumers eat fruit to satisfy cravings. These self-care-focused consumers will be looking for ingredients, products, and combinations that address nutritional, physical, and/or emotional benefits.
Engaging more of the senses: Last year, vibrant color and visual engagement started the movement towards food experiences that engage more than just taste and smell. Building on this trend, the texture of food will play a bigger role in the year ahead as consumers look for new experiences that can be enjoyed and are visually sharable (think Instagram or Pinterest). Consumers perceive food that is crispy, crunchy, and chunky as fresh, functional, filling, and fun. Produce and natural ingredients can play a big role here: fresh produce with vibrant colors and complex tastes and textures, juices with fruit or vegetable pulp, yogurt with natural fruit chunks, blends that include seeds, and spicy peppers are just a few examples.
Personalization through online and mobile food shopping: Consumers are increasingly going online and to their mobile devices to make shopping as effortless as possible. In doing so, technology is capturing preferences and patterns that allow for creation of personalized shopping lists, recommendations, promotions, cross-category pairings, recipes, reviews, information, etc. that save consumers time, effort, and energy. “By combining insights on purchase behavior and other online activities, companies and retailers can target individuals based on their habits and preferences both in the store and online.”
Technology will begin to disrupt the traditional food chain: While the debate continues over GMOs and other “test-tube” foods, some forward-thinking companies are developing alternatives to traditional factories and farms through scientifically engineered ingredients and finished products. This may seem counter-intuitive to the desire for “all natural” and put even greater importance on total transparency. However, those concerned with the environment, labor, and other pressures on the global food supply may become the early adopters. And it’s not only about creating “real” food alternatives through science. Technology is also being developed that utilizes automation and machine learning to consume less water and yield more and higher quality fresh produce, without altering the produce itself. Ultimately, how all this is communicated to consumers will be critical to broad-scale acceptance.
Importantly, fresh fruits and vegetables are poised to address and to benefit from the trends identified by Mintel. Keep them in mind as you develop your plans for 2018 and beyond. We’ll share more trend lists as they are published over the next few months. Let’s talk about how we can work together to take advantage of these trends to delight your consumers and grow your business.
Source: Mintel Global Food & Drink Trends 2018 (http://www.mintel.com/global-food-and-drink-trends/)