Food & drink trends for 2016

Mintel’s team of global food and drink expert analysts have identified and analysed 12 key trends set to impact the global food and drink market in 2016.

chazAs lifestyles shift and global markets influence how, why and where we buy and consume goods and services, the ever-evolving consumer landscape tries to keep up. Natural disasters, the media, tightly held misconceptions, mass-connectivity and a draw to simplicity are influencing food and drink habits worldwide like never before.

Here, our team of global expert analysts have identified and analysed 12 key trends set to impact global food and drink markets in 2016.

1. Consumer demands for natural and ‘less processed’ food and drink are forcing companies to remove artificial ingredients. Products that have yet to do so, will face scrutiny – or worse – from consumers who are looking for natural formulations with recognisable ingredients.

2. Drought, worries about food waste and other natural phenomena not only affect the worldwide food and drink supply, but influence preparation and production. In 2016, sustainability evolves from being good for the bottom line to being a necessary new product development consideration for the common good.

3. As the adage goes with beauty, ‘It’s what’s on the inside that counts’. Consumers are recognising that diets can connect with the way they look and feel. This places new emphasis on packaged products that are formulated to help people’s physical appearance as well as their personal wellness, creating a market for products enhanced with everything from collagen to probiotics.

4. Veggie burgers and non-dairy milks have escaped the realm of substitutes primarily for people with dietary concerns and followers of vegetarian diets. Instead, the growing ranks of novel protein sources and potential replacements appeal to the everyday consumer, foreshadowing a profoundly changed marketplace in which what was formerly ‘alternative’ could take over the mainstream.

5. For many, fitness is simply about becoming more active. The rising promotion of athletic programmes that encourage consumers to get and stay active showcases a parallel need for food and drink that helps consumers get acquainted with sports nutrition, including energy, hydration and protein. This creates an opportunity for communication and product ranges that progress alongside people’s activity levels and goals.

6. Consumers have been romanced by product origin, ingredients or inspiration stories.

With similar claims made by legitimately hand-crafted as well as mass-produced products, this proliferation and occasional propagation will find consumers and regulators alike seeking products with verified claims.

7. Online shopping, apps and delivery services are transforming consumers’ access to deals, niche offerings and even full meals. While the internet has not yet vastly changed the landscape of grocery shopping, innovations encourage consumers to think outside traditional physical retailers.

8. The rise of food-centric media has sparked new interest in cooking, not only for the sake of nourishment, but for the purposes of sharing one’s creations via social media. This finds people taking divergent paths: some hope to become well-rounded enough to compete on popular television programmes, while others privately cultivate specialties ranging from cupcakes to curries. Either way, people are cooking to share with friends and followers.

9. Across age groups, more consumers are living in single-person households or occasionally eating meals alone. These meals for one require right-sized products and packaging as well as promotions that further erode any stigma of dining solo.

10. Interest in natural and ‘getting back to basics’ has boosted ancient grains and superfoods, fostering a principle that age-old staples are better than today’s manufactured options. Interest in historical ingredients suggests that people could make efforts to unlock the keys to their personal physiology and design diets by connecting with their own ancestry or genetic make-up.

11. Consumers’ negative stereotype that any and all fat content is evil has begun to diminish. The awareness of the many sources of good and bad fats is ushering in a paradigm shift in which fat content is not the first and foremost consideration – and barrier – in the search for healthy products

12. Flavour has long been the core of innovation, but more visual and share-focused societies call for innovation that is boldly coloured and artfully constructed. Finding inspiration in global foodservice offerings, brands can experiment with vibrant colours and novel shapes to make packaged products worthy of consumer praise and social media posts.

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