Key trends for 2015 in food and drinks, Mintel

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 5th February 2015
Key trends for 2015 in food and drinks, Mintel
Key trends for 2015 in food and drinks, Mintel

Healthy lifestyles, “clean” ingredients, at-home gourmands, value consciousness and e-commerce speciality products are set to be key food and drink trends for 2015, according to market research organisation Mintel.

It’s not a diet, it’s a lifestyle

According to Mintel, consumers are shunning restrictive fads in favor of a more “holistic wellness” approach. These more open-minded, health-conscious consumers are keeping an eye on the long-term, which makes them less fearful of the occasional splurge.

In the US, the battle with an expanding waistline is set to continue with diet and wellness listed first on the menu in 2015. While 56 per cent of US consumers reference dieting in order to lose or maintain weight, most consumers said they preferred to count reps instead of calories (83 per cent).

When it came to dieting, high-protein diets were the favorite in the US. Forty per cent of US consumers agreed that food and drink products high in protein helped users feel fuller longer, and 37 per cent agreed that protein assisted with building muscle. In addition, the number of food and drink products launched with low/no/reduced fat, low/no/reduced sugar or low/no/reduced calorie claims decreased between 2013 and 2014, while the number of products with a high/added fiber claim or a high protein claim have risen.

According to Mintel research, “diet” has become a dirty word as consumers trade fad eating plans for a more “holistic wellness” approach.

“These more open-minded consumers are keeping an eye on the long-term and are not afraid of the occasional splurge so long as it’s in moderation,” said Jenny Zegler, Global Food and Drink Analyst at Mintel.

In 2015, flexibility will be key when it comes to eating and drinking habits, with consumers open to trying different healthy options, according to Mintel.

‘Clean’ is the new ‘green’

Rather than the relatively intangible claim of being ‘good for the environment,’ the new priority is transparency, according to Mintel. This trend is creating a new flock of consumers who want to know more about ingredients, products and the companies that make and sell them.

More nutrients on the plate will be key heading into 2015, but consumers said they were concerned with the ingredients in each mouthful, according to to Mintel. Twenty-two per cent of US grocery consumers would like to see improved labeling on packaging to help them easily identify healthier food products, and less than 38 per cent trust what companies say on labels. Currently 80 per cent of US consumers look for nutritional claims (i.e. vitamins, fiber) when buying food, while over one third (38 per cent) look for products that are all natural. Food origin is also quickly becoming a purchase factor with 35 per cent of consumers seeking out products that carry a local claim (i.e. from a local company/firm).

“Simply and effectively communicating benefits is essential for consumers and a big trend this year,” according to Lynn Dornblaser, Director of Innovation and Insight at Mintel.

While ‘local’ is a great buzzword, provenance lets consumers know where products originated. Additionally, ‘clean’, ‘simple and ‘real’ are all being used on labels to introduce natural, no additives or preservatives.

“Brands should look to educate consumers in 2015 and help them understand why certain ingredients are in products and the purpose they serve,” Ms Dornblaser said.

Products as the professional

Consumers want to cook like celebrity chefs but, for the most part, they do not know how, according to Mintel. This is creating a market for products, both at retail and for delivery, that cater to these aspiring gourmands by making home cooking easy, while still wholesome and high in quality.

According to Mintel, for many US consumers, “life happens in the kitchen”. This presents an opportunity for brands in 2015 to serve as both sous chef and inspiration as the number of at-home gourmands increases.

Mintel said 26 per cent of US consumers claimed to have advanced cooking skills, up from 20 per cent in 2012. Forty-one per cent considered themselves to have intermediate skills. For this reason, Mintel said cooking has evolved beyond a chore creating a market for products that cater to aspiring chefs by making home cooking easy, while still high quality.

Furthermore, an increased popularity for cooking has led to a high number of consumers owning small appliances. In 2014, 79 per cent of US consumers claimed to own a slow cooker or crock-pot while 76 per cent owned a hand mixer. What’s more, 49 per cent owned a stand mixer, for example a KitchenAid.

“The rise of food-related television and media has inspired innovative home cooking in 2015. Consumers are embracing short-cuts that allow them to enjoy meal-time rather than ready-made substitutions,” Ms Dornblaser said.

Meal kits, ingredient delivery services and other products that encourage home chefs to make recipes their own have a welcome audience, according to Mintel. Brands provide online and mobile support to budding home cooks.

Death of the ‘middle ground’

Recession-scarred consumers are almost constantly redefining their definition of “value” by the occasion, category and more, according to Mintel. Their ongoing search for good deals forces brands, as well as private labels, to choose between affordability or premium positioning.

Mintel said that one true constant for US consumers was the ever changing definition of ‘value’, with the only certainty being that ‘value’ was not always just about lowest price. Instead, it could be private label in some scenarios and premium brands on other occasions or categories.

In the year ahead, Mintel said brands would have to navigate between being affordable options or attainable luxuries in order to capture the benefit, not brand loyal shopper. MIntel said value would continue to drive consumer choice in 2015 as the influence of private label products becomes more noticeable. Between January 2014 and November 2014, 30 per cent of US food and drink launches were private label.

Today, Mintel said US consumers did not always associate private labels as store brands. In fact, a hefty 87 per cent of US consumers when tested got at least one store or name brand identification wrong, although just 13 per cent said they had trouble differentiating branded from private label products. In addition, ‘Value’ does not always mean ‘inexpensive’. Products that are not cheap, but offer good value, also connect with consumers, according to Mintel. Mintel said manufacturers would cater to consumers’ quests for value in 2015 by offering affordable options that also have added amenities.

Net’s niche

E-commerce is shaking up food and drink retailing, according to Mintel. The internet provides access to products from a range of companies that are designed to address specific dietary needs, personal interests and other distinct consumer needs.

E-commerce was an estimated $301.3 billion industry in the US in 2014. Yet, purchasing groceries online is still more of an intrigue rather than a habit, according to Mintel.

Thirty-one per cent of men in the US age 18-34 have bought groceries online in the past 12 months and would do so again, while only 21 per cent of women age 18-34 have done so. In comparison, 18 per cent of men age 35-54 have bought groceries online in the past 12 months and would do so again, while only 13 per cent of women age 35-54 have done so.

However, certain consumer sets view the internet as a resource for the hard-to-find, not an everyday shopping tool. Thirty-five per cent of US consumers age 65 and older agreed that price is not the most important factor when shopping online, rather getting what they want. Only about half of US consumers age 18-24 agreed with that statement.

Mintel said US consumers recognised that the internet played host to food and beverage items they can not easily access in brick and mortar stores – an exclusive bottle of wine or a favorite brand of chocolate from overseas. Additionally, consumers did not mind interacting with brands online when it came to sharing their thoughts (i.e. contests, promotions, R&D).

“Despite the ubiquity of online shopping, US consumers have yet to embrace e-commerce when it comes to the grocery lists,” Jenny Zegler said. “At least for the time being,” she said.

Control more important than convenience

Mintel said that although convenience still plays a major role in many US consumer’s lives, it has become more important for them to maintain control over their food and drink. According to Mintel, an understanding of the source and story of their food and drink gives consumers the “comfort to make something all their own”.

The quest for value and products that fit their personal needs drive consumers to hunt store shelves and online selections in search of exactly what they want. Healthy or not, low-cost or not, adaptable or not: Consumers actually do want it all, according to Mintel. The challenge for food and drink manufacturers will be to offer choice.