The pandemic resulted in what Mintel describes as a “fundamental reset” of consumer behaviour, which will manifest itself in several ways in the year ahead, according to its annual Global Food and Drink Trends report.
According to Mintel, 2021 will see food and drink companies create solutions catering to mental and emotional wellbeing; be challenged to respond to new definitions of “trust,” “quality” and “essential”; and cater to a growing desire to be part of a community.
Feed the mind
Wellbeing was already a growing consumer concern pre-pandemic, but the trend was accelerated by the events of 2020, says Mintel.
In the coming years, people will seek out products and services that have the potential to offer mental and emotional health benefits through either the inclusion of functional ingredients, or product rituals for preparation, presentation or consumption.
According to Mintel, innovative food and drink formulations will help people understand the impact of diet on both their mental and emotional health, leading to a new interest in psychology-based approaches to healthy eating.
Mintel predicts the pace of life will increase post-pandemic, leading to greater consumer demand for convenience options that not only save time, but are also hygienic and adventurous.
At the same time, brands will be challenged to meet new definitions of quality. “A range of solutions will be needed to help offset indulgence with health while fulfilling the duelling needs of time-savings and creativity,” says Mintel.
It also expects increased consumer demand for foodservice-inspired options for quick meals and approachable up-market solutions. Also, ethical expectations will fuel a trend it calls “value with values”—appropriately priced products that also address ethical and/or environmental concerns.
United by food
Food and drink has emerged as a form of “escapism” during the pandemic, and Mintel predicts food and drink companies will encourage people to use their brands to not only express themselves, but also reconnect with their pre-pandemic selves.
The expectation is that brands will launch more interactive products and recipes encouraging the use of food and drink as “creative outlets” and as a means of expressing their moods, opinions or passions.
“Brands will then be able to actively bring individual fans together in online communities or organize in-person gatherings,” said Mintel. “Bound by the brand(s) they have in common, communities will expand people’s social circles and introduce collective ways to make a difference.”