Longing for Comfort

WTN161122_MintelReportCover-lo resComfort and tradition will be the choice of many rather than adventures in food and beverage choices, according to market research firm Mintel International.

The report Global Food and Drink Trends 2017 describes consumer preferences for products that are “recognizable rather than revolutionary.”

“People are seeking the safety of products that are recognizable rather than revolutionary,” according to global food and drink analyst Jenny Zegler. “The trust in the familiar emphasizes the opportunity for manufacturers to look to the past as a dependable source of inspiration such as ‘ancient’ product claims including ancient grains and also ancient recipes, practices and traditions. Potential also exists for innovations that use the familiar as a base for something that’s new, but recognizable, such as cold-brew coffee,” she writes.

Sales of products self-described as “ancient” increased 265% globally in the 12 months ending in August compared to five years ago.

Six key trends were identified in the report:

  • IN TRADITION WE TRUST
    Consumers seek comfort from modernized updates of age-old formulations, flavors, and formats. Trust in the familiar emphasizes the opportunity for manufacturers to look to the past as a dependable source of inspiration. Potential also exists for innovations that use the familiar as a base for something that’s new, but recognizable, such as cold-brew coffee.
  • POWER TO THE PLANTS
    The preference for natural, simple, and flexible diets will drive further expansion of vegetarian, vegan, and other plant-focused formulations.
  • WASTE NOT
    The focus on sustainability zeros in on eliminating food waste. More retailers, restaurants and philanthropic organizations are addressing the sheer amount of food and drink that is wasted around the world, which is changing consumer perceptions.
  • TIME IS OF THE ESSENCE
    The time investments required for products and meals will become as influential as nutrition or ingredient claims.
  • BALANCING THE SCALES: HEALTH FOR EVERYONE
    Healthy food and drink are not “luxuries.” Many lower-income consumers want to improve their diets but the access to—and the cost of—healthy food and drink is often an impediment.
  • THE NIGHT SHIFT
    Evening is tapped as a new occasion for functional food and drink formulations. The increasingly hectic pace of modern life is creating a market for food and drink that helps people of all ages calm down before bedtime, sleep better, and restore the body while they rest.

WTN161122_MintelReport_DealingWithStress-lo res WTN161122_MintelReport_VeganTrends-lo res“Products can leverage the reputation of the tea category and use chamomile, lavender and other herbs as a way to achieve a sense calm before bedtime, while chocolate could be positioned as a way to wind down after a stressful day,” writes Zegler.

“The acrimonious political climate has many consumers looking for comfort rather than adventure in their food and beverage choices,” according to Mintel. Food Navigator reported the finding in this headline: “A bitter political climate could curb consumers’ sense of food adventure.”

U.K. supermarket Asda created a box of misshapen, but edible, vegetables that retails for 30% less than its standard produce.

U.K. supermarket Asda created a box of misshapen, but edible, vegetables that retails for 30% less than its standard produce.

The trend “emphasizes the opportunity for manufacturers to look to the past as a dependable source of inspiration,” as in the case of alcoholic root beer, which offers a new twist on a much-loved classic, writes Food Navigator. Companies also can meet this demand by using heritage ingredients or by explaining to consumers how the production or manufacturing techniques are rooted in tradition, the report adds. It also notes this strategy likely will appeal to the 18% of adults who say it is important for international packaged foods to have an on-pack history of the product.

“This year’s trends are grounded in current consumer demands for healthy, convenient and trustworthy food and drink,” said Zegler. “Across the world, manufacturers and retailers have opportunities to provide more people with food and drink that is recognizable, saves time and contains servings of beneficial fruits, vegetables and other plants.

“Mintel has identified exciting new opportunities for functional food and drink designed for evening consumption, progressive solutions for food waste and affordable healthy food for low-income consumers. Opportunities abound for companies around the world to capitalize on these trends, helping them develop in new regions and more categories throughout the course of the next year and into the future,” she said.

Download the report.

Source: Mintel International, Food Navigator

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Dan Bolton

About Dan Bolton

Dan Bolton edits STiR Tea & Coffee Industry International. He was formerly editor and publisher of World Tea News and former editor and publisher of Tea Magazine and former editor-in-chief of Specialty Coffee Retailer. He is a beverage retail consultant and frequent speaker at industry seminars and conferences. His work has appeared in many beverage publications. He was a newspaper reporter and editor for 20 years prior to his career in magazines. Dan is the founding editor of Natural Food magazine and has led six publishing ventures since 1995. He lives in Winnipeg, Canada.