Top 12 food and drink trends for 2016: Mintel

By Michael Stones

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Top 12 trends will influence next year's food and drink industry: Mintel
Top 12 trends will influence next year's food and drink industry: Mintel

Related tags Drink industry Food industry Mintel

Alternatives everywhere is the first of 12 top trends that will dominate the food and drink industry next year, predicts market research specialist Mintel.

Its global food and drink analyst Jenny Zegler forecast the trends will shape global markets next year, influencing consumers and delivering key opportunities for the food and drink manufacturers and retailers.

“These trends explore how consumers’ evolving priorities, opportunities from advancements in functional formulation and the almost inescapable reach of technology will affect food and drink in the coming year.”

Introducing the top trend towards alternatives, Zegler said: “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 will strengthen their appeal to consumers. “That foreshadows a profoundly changed marketplace in which what was formerly ‘alternative’ could take over the mainstream.”

The other top five trends set to dominate next year’s food and drink industry included: Artificial: public enemy No. 1, Eco is the new reality, From the inside-out, For every body and Based on a true story. See the full list of trends below.

Artificial: public enemy No. 1​ reflects consumer demands for natural and ‘less processed’ food and drink, which will force companies to remove artificial ingredients, said Zegler. “Products that have yet to do so, will face scrutiny – or worse – from consumers who are looking for natural formulations with recognisable ingredients.”

The Eco is the new reality​ trend captures the growing impact of environmental concerns on the global food industry. The impact of drought, worries about food waste and other factors will influence not just worldwide food and drink supply, but influence preparation and production,”​ she said.

“In 2016, sustainability evolves from being good for the bottom line to being a necessary part of new product development for the common good.”

From the Inside-Out​ reflected consumers’ recognition 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,” ​said Zegler.

For Every Body​ captured the growing popularity of fitness and more active lifestyle. “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.”

This created an opportunity for communication and product ranges that progress alongside people’s activity levels and goals.

Based on a True Story ​revealed the extent to which 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,” ​claimed Zegler.

The final six dominant food and drink industry influences predicted by Mintel were: e-Revolution: From Carts to Clicks, Diet by DNA, Good enough to tweet, Table for one, Fat sheds stigma and Eat with your eyes.

The e-Revolution​ trend showcases the growing popularity of online shopping, apps and delivery services, said Mintel. While the internet has not yet vastly changed the landscape of grocery shopping, such innovations encourage consumers to buy from a wider range of sources than simply traditional physical retailers.

Diet by DNA​ covered the interest in natural and ‘getting back to basics’, which has boosted ancient grains and superfoods. Fuelling the view that age-old staples are better than today’s manufactured options, consumers could make efforts to “unlock the keys to their personal physiology and design diets by connecting with their own ancestry or genetic make-up”,​ said Zegler.

The Good Enough to Tweet ​trend was underpinned by the rise of food-centric media, which has sparked new interest in cooking, not only for nutrition but to share creations via social media. Mintel said some consumers hoped their culinary achievements would enable them to compete on TV programmes, while others wanted to privately cultivate specialties ranging from cupcakes to curries.

Both groups wanted to share their cooking to share with friends and social media followers.

Table for One ​reflected the demographic trend across all age groups towards more consumers living in single-person households or occasionally eating meals alone. Opportunities arising from this included: meals for one -sized products and packaging and promotions that further erode the stigma of dining solo.

Fat Sheds Stigma ​underpinned consumers’ waning perception that all fat content is “evil”.​ Growing  awareness of the many sources of good and bad fats has led to a shift in which fat content is not the first and foremost consideration – or indeed a barrier – in consumers’ search for healthy products.

Eat with Your Eyes. ​While flavour has long been the core of innovation, next year there will be a trend towards 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,” ​said Zegler.

Mintel’s top trends view

“Consumers are not the only influencers, as shifting economics, natural phenomena and social media are shaping what, how, where and with whom consumers are choosing to eat and drink.

“The trends will play out differently across the world based upon a variety of factors, including cultural norms, regional availability and societal needs. In some cases, established trends from one area are migrating to new regions, while a few emerging trends have the potential to disrupt the worldwide landscape.”

  • Jenny Zegler, Mintel


12 top food and drink trends

  1. Alternatives Everywhere
  2. Artificial: Public Enemy No. 1
  3. Eco is the New Reality
  4. From the Inside-Out
  5. For Every Body
  6. Based on a True Story
  7. e-Revolution: From Carts to Clicks
  8. Diet by DNA
  9. Good Enough to Tweet
  10. Table for One
  11. Fat Sheds Stigma
  12. Eat with Your Eyes

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