Food and Beverage Trends: What Will Shape the 2016 Global Market?

As lifestyles shift and global markets influence how, why and where we buy and consume goods and services, the ever-evolving consumer landscape tries to keep up. Natural disasters, the media, tightly held misconceptions, mass connectivity and a draw to simplicity are influencing food and drink habits worldwide like never before.

Mintel, a global market intelligence agency, takes a look at the most compelling and category-changing food and drink trends that will emerge in consumer markets across the globe in 2016. Mintel’s team of global food and drink expert analysts have identified and analysed 12 key trends set to impact the global food and drink market in the year to come.

Introducing the top five trends set to dominate next year’s food and drink industry, Mintel’s Global Food and Drink Analyst Jenny Zegler said: “Veggie burgers and non-dairy milks have escaped the realm of substitutes, primarily for people with dietary concerns, in which what was formerly ‘alternative’ could take over the mainstream.”

By these trends, we can see that the market will tend to gravitate toward products that promote health and sustainability.

Artificial will be public enemy No. 1. Consumer demands for natural and “less processed” food and drink are forcing companies to remove artificial ingredients. Products that have yet to do so will face scrutiny – or worse – from consumers who are looking for natural formulation with recognisable ingredients.

Eco is the new reality. Drought, worries about food waste and other natural phenomena not only affect the worldwide food and drink supply, but influence preparation and production. In 2016, sustainability evolves from being good for the bottom line to being a necessary new product development consideration for the common good. It is good that major companies have actually started adopting measures to mitigate the impact of climate change, by making zero deforestation commitments and cutting down greenhouse emissions, among others.

From the inside out. As the adage concerning beauty goes, “it is what’s on the inside that counts.” Consumers are recognising that diets can connect with the way they look and feel. This places new emphasis on packaged products that are formulated to help people’s physical appearance as well as their personal wellness, creating a market for products enhanced with everything from collagen to probiotics.

For everybody. For many, fitness is simply about becoming more active. The rising promotion of athletic programmes that encourage consumers to get and stay active showcases a parallel need for food and drink that help consumers get acquainted with sports nutrition, including energy, hydration and protein. This creates an opportunity for communication and product ranges that progress alongside people’s activity levels and goals. This trend is also reflective of the focus on healthier lifestyle, which is an important approach to addressing public health challenges.

Based on a true story. Consumers have been romanced by product origin, ingredients or inspiration stories. With similar claims made by legitimately hand-crafted and mass-produced products, this proliferation and occasional propagation will find consumers and regulators alike seeking products with verified claims.

The next set of food and beverage trends are linked to the growing popularity of online shopping and social media interactions. Relatedly, in a separate market outlook by the Institute of Grocery Distribution (IGD), which FIA published recently, the research and training charity made a projection on the continued expansion of online grocery services to support the growth of modern convenience and supermarket retailing: Retailers are tapping into the potential of smartphone users who shop online.

E-revolution from carts to clicks.
Online shopping, apps and delivery services are transforming consumers’ access to deals, niche offerings and even full meals. While the Internet has not yet vastly changed the landscape of grocery shopping, innovations encourage consumers to think outside the box regarding traditional physical retailers.

Diet by DNA. Interest in the natural and “getting back to basics” has boosted ancient grains and superfoods, fostering a principle that age-old staples are better than today’s manufactured options. Interest in historical ingredients suggest that people could make efforts to unlock the keys to their personal physiology and design diets, by connecting with their own ancestry or genetic make-up.

Good enough to Tweet. The rise of food-centric media has sparked new interest in cooking, not only for the sake of nourishment, but also for the purposes of sharing one’s creations via social media. This finds people taking divergent paths – some to become sufficiently well-rounded so as to compete on popular television programmes, while others privately cultivate specialties ranging from cupcakes to curries. Either way, people are cooking to share with friends and followers.

Table for one. Across age groups, more consumers are living in single-person households or occasionally eating meals alone. These meals for one require right-sized products and packaging, as well as promotions that further erode any stigma of dining solo.

Fat sheds stigma. Consumers’ negative stereotype – that any and all fat content is evil – has begun to diminish. The awareness of the many sources of good and bad fats is ushering in a paradigm shift, in which fat content is not the first and foremost consideration – and barrier – in the search for healthy products.

Eat with your eyes. Flavour has long been the core of innovation, but more visual and share-focused societies call for innovation that is boldly coloured and artfully constructed. Finding inspiration in global food service offerings, brands can experiment with vibrant colours and novel shapes to make packaged products worthy of consumer praise and social media posts.

Market intelligence plays an important role in determining how these trends will impact the food and beverage industry. While trends will eventually play out differently across the world depending on a variety of factors, it helps to know where the greater and more unique opportunities are, so that companies can better find their niche.

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