About this time last year, Mintel identified six trends that more than 60 of our global analysts predicted would impact the global food and drink industry in the coming year. The 2017 Global Food & Drink Trends identified the potential for plant-based food and drink, interest in products that are connected to the past, and the need for convenience and interest in more sustainable and ethical products.

With our predictions for 2018 now available to download, we revisited the 2017 Global Food & Drink Trends to see how they progressed this year.

Power to the Plants

“The preference for natural, simple and flexible diets will drive further expansion of plant-focused formulations.”

‘Power to the Plants’ is one of Mintel’s fastest developing 2017 Global Food & Drink Trend predictions because more companies and consumers have invested in formulations that boast the inherent nutrition and flavor provided by using plants, including fruits, vegetables, herbs, seeds and grains, as ingredients. This trend encompasses interest in products with plants as ingredients, such as Caulipower frozen pizza in the US, as well as the rising ranks of products that have vegetarian or vegan claims.

39% of Indonesians are eating more non-animal sources of protein compared to a year ago.

Of the global food and drink products launched between September 2016-August 2017, 11% carried vegetarian claims, up from nearly 4% from September 2006-August 2007. Similarly, vegan claims have risen from less than half a percent of global food and drink launches to nearly 5% in the same timeframes. These claims help consumers identify plant-based products across categories.

Interest does, indeed, span categories as plant-based protein appeals to the 39% of Indonesian and 34% of Thai consumers who are eating more non-animal sources of protein, such as plants or grains, compared to a year ago, according to Mintel research.

In Tradition We Trust

“Consumers seek comfort from modernized updates of age-old formulations, flavors and formats.”

Food and drink with authentic connections to history or tradition provides consumers with inherent trustworthiness that they yearn for in a tumultuous world. In 2017, consumers continued to seek reassurance in the form of product descriptions such as craft, artisan and ancient that explained the inspiration, ingredients and production processes for food and drink.

In addition to heritage, ‘In Tradition We Trust’ observed the potential for new, but recognizable innovations, such as the launch of Bavaria’s Radler Ice Lemon frozen treat in the Netherlands that provides a new format in which to enjoy Bavaria beer. Authenticity does not have to be the only focus for recognizable innovations, though, because consumers are also interested in twists on tradition. For example, 58% of Chinese 20-49s would be interested in trying frozen pizza with localized flavors such as Chinese or Asian-inspired pizza recipes.

Time is of the Essence

“The time investments required for products and meals will become as influential as nutrition or ingredient claims.”

The chaotic pace of modern life made the time spent on—or saved by—a food or drink product a clear selling point, according to this 2017 Global Food & Drink Trend. Global food and drink companies have responded with more products launched with convenience claims, a category that rose to 18% of global food and drink releases between September 2016-August 2017 from 10% a decade ago (September 2006-August 2007).

These types of convenient packages, portion controlled products and easy to prepare food and drink can appeal to consumers who want fresh and trustworthy food and drink, but might not necessarily have the time to make it themselves. Nearly half US consumers who are the primary or shared grocery shoppers choose ease of preparation as a top five quality when shopping for food. Companies also can partner to help consumers save time, potentially following the lead of Nestlé’s collaboration with UberEats in São Paulo, Brazil that offered delivery of baby and infant products.

To find out how Mintel’s remaining three trend predictions fared over 2017, click here.

Jenny Zegler is the dedicated trends analyst on Mintel’s Food & Drink platform, blending Mintel Trends expertise with food and drink specific topics, such as health and wellness, formulation, sustainability and premiumization. In addition to contributing analysis to Mintel Food & Drink, Jenny has been part of the team that creates Mintel’s annual cross-category trends since 2014.

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