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Tradition and time among Mintel’s global food trends for 2017

Annual report says that new products featuring “on-the-go” claims have increased 54% in the past six years

Updates to “age-old” formulations and tastes, an expansion of vegan, vegetarian and plant-focused formulations, as well as the continued development of comforting—and functional—nighttime products are among the six trends that will shape the global food and drink industry in the coming year, according to Mintel.

The research company’s Global Food and Drink Trends 2017 report is shaped by in-depth conversations with more than 60 of Mintel’s global analysts, and corroborated by the research firm’s library of consumer research, global insight from its Mintel Trends unit and the “vast records” kept by its Global New Products Database (GNPD).

1. In Tradition We Trust
According to Mintel, the rapid pace of change, combined with contentious political environments and the unpredictability of current events, are leading consumers to retreat to products that are “recognizable rather than revolutionary.”

“Food and drink with authentic connections to history or tradition provide an inherent element of trustworthiness that many consumers yearn for in a tumultuous world,” says the report.

While this does not mean that manufacturers can dispense with innovation, Mintel says it presents an opportunity to look to the past as a “dependable” source of inspiration.

The report says that 25% of Brazilian adults who have recently cooked said that they tend to make recipes passed down from their mother or grandmother. There is also an opportunity for new products that are a fusion of existing cuisine, with 39% of Canadian adults agreeing that dishes combining two or more types of ethnic items are authentic, providing a basis for food manufacturers to expand on familiar recipes.

2. Power to the Plants
Driven by continued consumer desire to live healthier and cleaner lifestyles, plants are now gaining prominent billing in products such as Europe’s Evian Fruits & Plants. This year, for example, the non-dairy milk brand Silk introduced the slogan “Do Plants.”

According to Mintel, manufacturers are releasing or promoting formulations that focus on plants and the flavours, fortifications and functionality they can add to food and drink products.

According to Mintel’s GNPD, there has been a 25% increase in vegetarian claims – and a 257% rise in vegan claims – in global food and drink launches in the past six years.

Mintel predicts that plant products will move from the store perimeter and begin appearing in more “innovative and health-oriented” applications for items in the centre of the store. For example, more than a quarter (26%) of Canadian adults are interested in formulations that add vegetables to noodles.

3. Waste Not
According to the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations, approximately 1.3 billion tonnes of the food produced for human consumption is wasted each year.

According to Mintel, the sheer amount of waste is leading to change throughout the industry, manifesting itself in everything from manufacturers paying more attention to innovating with materials that are typically discarded, to an increased number of grocery chains selling misshapen fruit.

According to Mintel, 51% of U.S. adults who purchase vegetables are open to purchasing less-than-perfect produce that is bruised or oddly shaped, with the report predicting that the “stigma” of purchasing imperfect produce will begin to fade by next year.

The report says that waste created by packaging can also be a concern for consumers, with 40% of Canadian adults who drink coffee or tea agreeing that single coffee or tea pods should be either compostable or biodegradable.

4. Time is of the Essence
Time has become an increasingly scarce—and precious—resource for modern consumers, leading manufacturers to develop solutions that address what Mintel describes as our “multi-tasking lifestyles.”

According to the GNPD, the number of food and drink launches boasting “on-the-go” claims has increased 54% in the past six years. New products addressing this trend include a chewable coffee product called Go Cubes, which provides the same caffeine as a single cup of coffee.

However, the report also notes that consumers are seeking balance in their life, leading to the development of products boasting “slow” claims—such as slow roasted or products promising slow-release energy.

Mintel says that the time spent on—or saved by—a food or drink product will become a “clear selling point” in 2017. Nearly one third (30%) of Canadian breakfast eaters, for example, say that products requiring little or no preparation are important to them.

5. The Night Shift
According to Mintel, the “increasingly hectic” pace of modern life is creating a market for products that can help people calm down before bedtime, sleep better and restore their body while they rest.

Kellogg’s recently repackaged some varieties of its All-Bran cereal for the Mexican and Colombian markets with a lunar design, accompanied by claims that evening consumption could help with digestion.

In the U.S., meanwhile, a new line of snack bars called NightFood promises to satisfy after-dinner cravings, while keeping diets on track and supporting better sleep.

Mintel says that consumption patterns suggest that some food and drink categories are in a “prime” spot for expansion into the night-time market, noting that 40% of German adults eat or drink yogurt as an evening snack and 12% of Spanish consumers eat or drink yogurt after 11 p.m.

The report also says that chocolate could be positioned for night-time consumption, particularly among consumers who need to wind-down after a long day. According to its research, more than a quarter (26%) of U.S. consumers who have purchased chocolate recently did so to improve their mood.

6. Balancing the Scales: Health for Everyone
With approximately 638 million around the world classified as “low income” by the World Bank, there is a growing recognition that healthy food and drink should not be considered luxuries.

Mintel says that lower-income populations are more susceptible to food-related health issues such as obesity and diabetes because of a combination of a lack of access to fresh food, limited time to dedicate to physical activity, and high levels of stress or anxiety.

According to Mintel, the number of food and drink launches boasting economy claims rose 25% between September 2010 and August 2016, driven by what it calls a “broad quest for value” by consumers across all income levels.

“Rather than offering value to those who can already afford it, more solutions are needed from both brands and retailers that provide affordable options to everyone who is hoping to improve their diet and lifestyle,” says the report.

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