Top five food and drink trends for 2018

Nov. 16, 2017

Upcoming global food and drink trends

Five key trends have been predicted to impact the food and drink market in 2018. Market intelligence agency Mintel has identified some key factors that likely to influence consumers, manufacturers and retailers in the upcoming year:

Full Disclosure
Consumers are actively seeking transparency and reassurance from food and drink producers. Suppliers are responding to this general public mistrust by shifting their advertising approach to highlight the transparency and authenticity in their products’ manufacturing processes.  

“57% of milk-buying UK adults are more inclined to buy from a source that clearly states on the label it supports farmers.”

Aspects such as natural, ethical and environmentally beneficial are being emphasised on products to convey trustworthiness. Out of the food and drink products released last year, 29% of them include claims such as ‘organic’, ‘GMO-free’ and ‘no additives’. This demonstrates that manufacturers are picking up on, and responding to, the public’s demand for reassurance and clarity in terms of their food and drink.

Self-Fulfilling Practices
Self-care is likely to be a big influencer in the food and drink market next year. Whilst health definitions vary, it is clear that consumers are dedicating more time to diet and lifestyle. Modern stresses are motivating consumers to factor in treats as part of a balanced diet, creating a market for flexible wellness.

“41% of UK snacking consumers agree unhealthy snacks such as those high in sugar or salt are fine as part of a balanced diet.”

The food and drink market is saturated with products making conflicting health claims; amongst this noise, manufacturers should emphasis what their product can offer the consumer, instead of what it lacks. This focus on personal health, along with the stresses of modern life, will continue to drive the consumer need for flexible health products. Food and drink producers have opportunities to create a variety of products to produce specific needs — be it nutritional, physical or emotional. As transparency becomes more commonplace, it should mean products aligned with terms such as ‘organic’ ‘natural’ and ‘ethical’ become more affordable and accessible.

New Sensations
Greeted with a plethora of choice, consumers are seeking stand-out products that elicit new, exciting, share-worthy experiences. 2018 will see brands utilising sensory properties in their products to create this wow-factor; it’s predicted that texture will be used to captivate audiences, and to motivate product shareability. Products aiming to engage above and beyond the tastebuds will create opportunities to engage the modern online generation.

“25% of the UK would be interested in fizzy drinks with added texture such as pulp.”

Preferential Treatment 
Technology has introduced a new era of personalisation — alongside high street shops, consumers have an ever-expanding web of online platforms to choose from when purchasing food and drink. A perfect example of convenience driving purchasing is the rise of meal kit subscription boxes, such as Hello Fresh and Mindful Chef.

“35% of UK online grocery shoppers say the ability to add products to their grocery order through voice command technology is appealing.”

For the supplier, the ease that technology provides also brings with it the ability to create efficient, personalised shopping experiences: consumers receive product recommendations and promotions tailored to them, whilst product design can be innovative and responsive to real consumer feedback. Personalised shopping offers efficient ways for suppliers to communicate with target audiences, however it can also negatively impact brand loyalty. Faced with customised product deals, customers may choose benefits such as convenience or value for money, over brand.

Science Fare
The traditional food chain is predicted to be shaken up by technological advances in 2018. New manufacturing processes are aiming to challenge farms and factories, creating eco-friendly test tube food. Companies such as Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods are comparing their meat-free produce to the impact traditional food and drink productions have on the earth. Scientifically engineered food may initially appeal to a niche audience, however in the near future, lab-grown food may also be first-choice for the nutrition conscious.

“A quarter of UK consumers agree that meat substitutes that are similar in taste, texture, and/or appearance to real meat appeal to them.”

Ella Price is Marketing Executive at Beyond, a strategic creative agency specialising in feel-good brands.