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With summer around the corner, Mintel’s global analysts predict four food and drink trends consumers can expect at parties and celebrations this sunshine season, as it publishes its 2018 Summer Food & Drink Trends. Using Mintel’s Global New Products Database (GNPD), the expert analysts examine new products hitting store shelves around the world, and provide the latest insights into consumer behaviour.

Barbecue: It’s getting vegan in here

Although barbecue selection has become more diverse with the addition of fish and cheese in recent years, vegan barbecue might not have been a consideration for a meat-eater – until now. There has been an increase in speciality vegan products, such as black bean chipotle, catering to changes in consumer tastes. A clear trend has emerged for consumers in the UK to cut, limit or reduce how much meat and poultry they are eating; 28% of adults have done this over the six months to March 2017. Similarly, in the US, 33% of consumers plan to buy more plant-based food products in the next year.

Melanie Zanoza Bartelme, Global Food Analyst, said:

“Vegan options are on the rise, with several UK retailers such as Sainsbury’s, Tesco and just recently Waitrose launching extensive vegan lines in their stores. Flavour-bursting new varieties of vegan alternatives made from innovative ingredients like Indian jackfruit, which due to its texture and flavour is becoming an increasingly popular meat substitute, will be the star of the vegan barbecue this summer.“

Ice Cream: The best of all worlds

The mythical beast that is better-for-you ice cream, characterised by low sugar and high protein has officially arrived in the UK. Having outsold ice cream giants like Unilever and Nestlé Dreyers to become the best-selling ice cream in the US over a four week period in July 2017, Halo Top launched in the UK earlier this year. Among UK ice cream eaters, almost a third (32%) say that ‘low sugar’ would encourage them to consume more ice cream.

Alex Beckett, Associate Director, Mintel Food & Drink, said:

“Ice cream brands which claim to offer health benefits have historically been hard to find in Europe. As consumers look to balance their diets with an occasional treat and a boost to their mood, more ice cream brands will emerge which aim to combine indulgence and health.”

Snacks: Go bold or go home

New Mintel research indicates that snacks which are designed to be a companion to beer are poised to do especially well this summer. The combination of alcohol and salty snacks is nothing new, yet just under half (46%) of UK beer drinkers would like to see more information about matching food with beer. Similarly, many consumers are looking for bold and interesting flavours: 50% of Brazilian snackers agree that unusual/exotic flavours of salty snacks are appealing, while 36% of US consumers say they would buy more crisps if there are new flavours to try.

Ayisha Koyenikan, Global Food & Drink Analyst, said:

“When it comes to snacking, this summer will see strong flavours and textures that are specifically designed to go with alcohol that, no doubt, will be popular during the World Cup and barbecues alike. Snacks that have strong textures and flavours hold up particularly well with beer and other alcohol and, thus, will win in popularity this summer.”

Soft drinks: Goodbye sugar, hello flavour

Amid government regulations like the UK sugar tax, consumers are getting weary of old favourites like soda, cola and lemonade. Bold flavoured sparkling waters is a recent trend bringing naturalness and flavour to the soft bring market, and presents an alternative to sugar and artificial ingredients. They seem to be a natural alternative for a large number of consumers: over half (53%) of UK consumer agree that sparkling flavoured water is a good alternative to fizzy drinks.

Jenny Zegler, Associate Director, Mintel Food & Drink, said:

“The desire for unsweetened beverage options, along with consumer demand for more exotic flavours and unusual ingredients, is driving a trend toward more and more creative sparkling waters. Recently, innovation in this space has reached new heights. This summer, expect to see less lemonade and more truly original mineral waters with natural flavours far beyond lemon or cucumber.”

Mintel’s 2018 Summer Food & Drink Trends are available for press to download here.