Mintel has released its prediction for the food and drink trends set to drive the industry forward in 2018 – including texture, lab-grown food and products that incorporate stress relief into a consumer’s diet.
Its annual report claims that texture is “the latest tool” to engage the senses and deliver experiences that are worth sharing online, with Mintel predicting that texture will follow the lead of colour in creating experience for consumers. Driven by demand for natural ingredients, food and beverage companies have been incorporating activated charcoal and matcha green tea to create vividly colourful beverages, which could now be followed by texture-based innovations like chewy drinks, crispy ice cream inclusions and popping candy.
According to its research, European consumers are open to trying new food and drink with unusual textures, including more than a third of people surveyed in France and Spain.
“In 2018, the sound, feel, and satisfaction that texture provides will become more important to companies and consumers alike,” Mintel said. “Texture is the
next facet of formulation that can be leveraged to provide consumers with interactive and documentation-worthy experiences.”
It also believes that consumer interest in clean-label foods will cause the industry to step up its effort in creating healthier and more transparent products. Consumers will expect more from the products they buy – specifically in terms of stress relief and fulfilment – and manufacturers will capitalise by utilising more ingredients that either relieve stress or help with fatigue. They include the neurotransmitter GABA; specific combinations of vitamins like B1, B2, B5 and B6; plus extracts of chamomile, green tea and lavender.
Mintel claims recent innovations in food retail such as meal kit deliveries, click-and-collect services, voice-activated ordering and more intelligent loyalty programmes underline consumer desire for greater time-saving and money-saving. Indeed, the expansion of online and mobile food shopping could herald in a new era for the retail industry. As well as broadening their offering, retailers will be under pressure to provide consumers with more target products and promotions.
Mintel said: “The rapid expansion in the variety of food and drink retail channels will fuel the opportunity for recommendations, promotions, and product innovations based on actual consumer behaviour patterns. While this offers opportunity, it also could compromise brand discovery and endanger brand loyalty because custom offers might prioritise benefit, such as convenience, value, or time, over brand.”
It cited the example of Brandless, an online-only grocery store in the US that provides private-label and plainly packaged products – all at $3. Mintel said that more varied ways of shopping – including new technologies – was making the retail space more competitive and forcing mainstream supermarkets to be earlier adopters than in previous decades.
Elsewhere, the industry has been making solid progress on the development of alternative proteins to feed a growing population. Businesses like Memphis Meats, which has created meatball and chicken prototypes with a target launch date of 2021; Mosa Meat, which has brought down the cost of producing its tissue-cultured hamburgers from €250,000 to €10 per burger; and Impossible Foods, which specifically made its plant-based burger sizzle, smell, and release juices like an ordinary hamburger, are getting ever-closer to replicating the experience of meat and integrating genuinely sustainable protein sources into the mainstream food supply.
“Technology will begin to disrupt the traditional food chain in 2018 as enterprising manufacturers aim to replace farms and factories with laboratories,” Mintel said.
It pointed to the dairy industry as another example of this, with companies evolving beyond plant-based milk to engineer dairy products that are safe to drink regardless of a consumer’s tolerance of lactose.”
Jenny Zegler, global food and drink analyst for Mintel, said: “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.”