As it does every year during the autumn, Mintel delivers its analysis of the food trends that should structure global food consumption in 2019. A foresight exercise, based on the expertise of 60 analysts from the research specialist market and its database (GNPD) listing new food products and new beverages launched around the world. Five basic trends have been identified. They echo five themes: confidence, caring, stress, individualism, and sustainability.
1. A complete publication of product information
For Mintel, the crisis of confidence is total, it manifests itself towards the authorities, the regulatory framework, and of course – towards the food manufacturers, large groups in mind. This mistrust reinforces the need for transparency, the need to know the origin of the ingredients, how to make food products, or to distribute and sell them. Manufacturers are under pressure to release data that Mintel calls “complete and honest.”
Mintel cites as an example the milk brand “Who’s the boss” based on a survey of 6,850 consumers. Or Betterwith in Canada (pictured), with its “Honest” line claiming to be the first farm-made and fully traceable ice cream. This need for reinsurance is also reflected in a strengthening of expectations for natural products, both ethical and environmentally friendly.
According to the Mintel GNPD database, natural claims (including claims with no additives, no preservatives, organic and non-GMOs) appear in 29% of launches between September 2016 and August 2017. A figure up 17%. In the same vein, environmental and ethical claims (including animal welfare) have been booming. They reached 22% of launches against just 1% in 2006-2007.
2. Self-fulfilling practices
Stress is the life of many people in the world. Modern life puts us under pressure schedules, a permanent digital connection associated with a requirement for flexibility. For Mintel, this context leads consumers to want to escape ambient negativity and take care of themselves through their diet. This leads them to favor balanced dishes and to seek relaxing dishes.
But this is conducted in a spirit of personalization and individualization. Everyone chooses what is good for him according to his own requirements and his cultural markers. Thus, according to Mintel, 41% of Britons consider that snacks rich in sugar or salt can be part of a balanced diet. By contrast, 85% of Chinese people would be interested in ice creams better for health. Mintel takes the example of Häagen-Dazs who launched in Singapore a range (pictured) including green tea and almond or mango and raspberry in 40 ml portions.
Mintel indicates that the French, Italians and Spaniards are very active to avoid fat as much as to reduce the intake of sugars. Aversion to some ingredients is a method shared around the world. But it is counterbalanced by the search for positive arguments, oriented to what the product contains (and not what it does not have). In this sense, the nutritional quality of fruits, vegetables, seeds, herbs, spices, herbal extracts and other herbal ingredients is a decisive argument.
Mintel highlights the interest in chamomile, lavender and lemon balm, the leading trio of herbs used in food and beverages for their relaxing properties, from September 2016 – August 2017.
3. New sensations
How to escape from routine and stress? For Mintel, diet can play an increased role. There is potential for foods that involve more meaning through color, shape, fragrance and even sound. Clearly, texture is the key lever for delivering experiences worth sharing. Mintel illustrates this trend with a launch of Oreo (pictured). To honor Independence Day in the United States, the American brand has launched a limited series of its biscuit incorporating small red and blue sparkling confections.
Social networks like Instagram and Pinterest showcase food photos. This has the effect of focusing attention on the color of food. This search for “fun food”, or at least originality, opens up a vast field of possible innovation, particularly in Asia. Mintel emphasizes how the Chinese are open to new textures. More than half of them identify layers, coating or fodder as key elements of a good cookie. 43% are interested in ready-to-drink teas including fruit pieces and a third in yogurts with cereals or grains.
However, it is in Europe that the number of launches including a description of the texture is the most important. According to Mintel, 37% of Spaniards, 36% of Poles, 26% of French and 22% of Germans and Italians are ready to try out unusual textures.
4. Preferential treatment
The age of personalization is opening and accelerating thanks to the possibilities offered by the expansion of e-commerce. Mintel points to the power that online services will bring when they combine affordability with the expectation of convenience and efficiency for consumers.
Mintel highlights the potential of automatic re-supply services, for example via the synchronization of a refrigerator connected to an e-commerce mobile app. This is also the case of intelligent voice-activated accessories such as Amazon Echo and Google Home, which are likely to make the development of the lists of races faster and especially to order automatically.
Beyond convenience (saving time, effort and energy to source), new technologies offer the opportunity to customize purchase recommendations. For example, Coca-Cola has developed an intelligent vending machine that allows mobile purchases. For its part, the Chinese platform Alibaba has introduced the Hema physical markets where consumers use a mobile application. Mintel points to Amazon’s takeover of Whole Foods as the major event of 2017 and highlights the launch of the ex-pure player’s product line to its brand (Happy Belly and Wickedly Prime). To watch closely, just like the alliance between Google and Walmart.
5. The price of science
For Mintel, a revolution is underway thanks to new technologies. They aim to replace raw materials and traditional foods, from farms and processing plants, with solutions from the laboratories. Mintel talks about cell cultures to synthesize meat or 3D printing, which have the advantage of ensuring a better respect for environmental conditions.
For now, the results obtained suffer from a cost too expensive. But investments such as those made by General Mills, Tyson, Cargill, Unilever or even Bill Gates testify that the deal can change quickly. Especially since the organoleptic qualities of the products obtained progress. Mintel cites California-based Impossible Foods, a company that offers vegetable burgers that are similar in size, taste, smell, and even juice to a meat burger.
These pioneering products will have to deal with strong cultural reservations. In 2017, only 26% of Spaniards, 11% of French and 8% of Germans were potentially seduced by synthetic meat from laboratory cultures.
However, the promoters of these new foods are hammering environmental arguments that could hit the mark. Beyond Meats offers vegetable meat substitutes developed in partnership with General Mills. On the marketing front, the firm praises the benefits given to “Mother Nature” thanks to the positive impact on the climate, water, energy, soil, etc. But Mintel data shows that environmental awareness continues to grow in the minds of consumers around the world.