Chris Brockman
As EMEA Research Manager, Chris oversees the Food & Drink Analysts in Europe, while focusing on the latest innovation, market shifts and trends in the bakery category.

Food and drink innovation in 2019 continues to be driven by unexpected crossovers and dietary requirements, delivering a sense of ‘familiar novelty’ that is both reassuring and exciting. From vegan alternatives to honey, to collagen-enriched gin, we highlight 9 innovative food and drink products launched recently in the UK – using Mintel’s Global New Products Database (GNPD).

Marmite Crunchy Peanut Butter

Marmite, the well-known (and famously divisive!) yeast extract, is giving British consumers a new flavour experience this year. Inspired by a spike in customers posting pictures on social media of Marmite mixed with peanut butter, Unilever has launched a crunchy Marmite-flavoured peanut butter. This vegetarian spread is fortified with B vitamins and contains no palm oil or added sugar.

Coca-Cola Energy

This launch is part of Coca-Cola’s plan to be a “total beverage company”. Coca-Cola has long wanted to extend into the energy drinks sector as it keeps investing in growing drinks categories that enable it to offer consumers a wider range of products. Coca-Cola Energy contains caffeine from natural sources, guarana extract and vitamins B3 and B6 – and it’s available in regular and sugar-free variants. The absence of taurine is a point of difference with Monster and Red Bull beverages.

Lazy Vegan Provençale Veggies & Chunky Pulled Peaz

We’ve seen pea protein emerge as an animal protein alternative in the last few years, but it usually functioned as an ingredient in the background – part of what makes up the formulation, but not easily distinguishable by consumers. This convenient vegan ready meal casts peas in a completely new way, as a base ingredient with a texture similar to pulled pork or chicken. The ‘pulled peaz’ consist of pea protein, pea fiber, potato starch and seasonings.

Marks & Spencer Lemon, Gin & Tonic Sauce

Spirit flavors continue to expand into additional categories; here we see gin in a sauce that is intended as a dessert topping. This product is part of the UK retailer’s Tastes of the British Isles line, which focuses on traditional British flavors and product formats. The sauce is a traditional lemon curd, but with gin and tonic added. Alcohol-flavored sauces are a relatively unexplored innovation. Sauces with the addition of real spirits could have appeal for consumers who are increasingly interested in unique or signature cocktails, including the 38% of UK consumers who purchased any white spirits (including gin) in the last three months.

Young in Spirit’s Collagin Rose Gin with Collagen

This unique recipe has stayed true to the principles of a classic gin, with rose oil steam distilled from rose petals. It hosts 11 botanicals including pink grapefruit and orris, with the innovative addition of pure collagen. In Japan and other Asian countries, collagen has been used as an ingredient in foods and beverages for many years, touted for its supposed positive effects on skin health. In Western regions, it has now started to appear in the juice category, but it’s still rare to spot collagen-enhanced spirits. The result is a smooth, velvety gin with floral notes, finished with a subtle rose sweetness.

Other Foods Crunchy Oyster Mushroom Chips

Mushroom snacks are on the rise globally. Beyond their savoury, meaty and umami flavour, mushrooms are being positioned as functional ingredients to help boost immunity and energy, with some species of mushroom, such as reishi, known for their adaptogenic properties. This vegan-friendly snack is made with oyster mushrooms, which have been freeze dried and cooked at a low temperature, with just a pinch of Himalayan salt added. It is high in fibre and counts as one of the recommended five a day portions of fruit and vegetables. It is also said to be good for the gut.

Bol Bang Bang Sweet Potato Katsu Curry

Consumers are warming up to the idea of wonky/ugly produce, to avoid wasting fruit and vegetables that do not meet the strict specifications often enforced for top-grade retail products. A rare example of this message being trumpeted in the prepared meal space comes from UK-based Bol. A logo on the back of its vegan meals states they are “proudly made with wonky veg”. The website goes further, explaining that they use 100% wonky carrots and peppers, and are looking for other ways to expand wonky veg use.

Bee Approved Vegan Organic Alternative to Honey

This vegan-friendly honey alternative is made from organic brown rice. It contains no artificial colours or flavours, gluten or preservatives and claims to taste like bee honey. Honey alternatives can benefit from the popularity of plant-based eating and the migration of health-minded and environmentally conscious consumers towards vegan products. In addition, it represents a safe option for babies (eaten in moderation), as traditional bee honey is not recommended for children under one year of age.

Troo Pure Inulin Fibre Syrup

Also worthy of an honourable mention, this is another honey alternative that’s said to support a healthy digestive system by feeding friendly gut bacteria, contributing to physical, mental health and wellbeing while also helping to manage blood sugar levels. Packed with 65% fibre, it has a delicate sweetness providing no aftertaste and has no added sugar.