Top global food and drink trends for 2016

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 21st October 2015

dessert-932449_640Global market research company Mintel has released its food and drink trend predictions for 2016.


From food alternatives going mainstream to matching DNA and diets, consumers can expect many innovations in product development and strengthening of several ongoing trends in the market place.


Here are the predictions:


  1. Vegetarian alternatives to go mainstream


Mintel says that dairy, gluten and meat alternatives will no longer just be consumed by those with dietary needs.


“Veggie burgers and non-dairy milks have escaped the realm of substitutes primarily for people with dietary concerns and followers of vegetarian diets,” said Mintel’s Global Food and Drink Analyst, Jenny Ziegler.


“Instead, the growing ranks of novel protein sources and potential replacements appeal to the everyday consumer, foreshadowing a profoundly changed marketplace in which what was formerly ‘alternative’ could take over the mainstream,” said Ziegler.


  1. Less processed foods, more natural


Consumers will continue to be concerned with eating natural and ‘less processed’ food products. Mintel say companies will remain under pressure to remove artificial ingredients or face added scrutiny.


  1. Sustainable practices will be necessary


Food manufacturers will be required to demonstrate their credentials in environment and good sustainability practices.


“In 2016, sustainability evolves from being good for the bottom line to being a necessary part of new product development for the common good,” Ziegler said.


  1. Eating for the body and beauty


Consumers will have an increased focus on eating for beauty. Mintel says this will also see food companies creating more products containing  functional substances such as probiotics and collagen.


  1. Matching food with exercise programs


The connection between exercise and diet will increase as more people become concerned with matching what they are eating with training programs. As consumers progress in exercise regimes, they will want their diets to progress and evolve to match.


“The rising promotion of programmes that encourage consumers to get and stay active showcases a parallel need for food and drink that helps consumers get acquainted with sports nutrition. This creates an opportunity for communication and product ranges that progress alongside people’s activity levels and goals,” Ziegler said.


  1. Verifying claims


In 2016 consumers and regulators will continue to insist that all brand origin and stories be better verified says Mintel.


“Consumers have been romanced by product origin, ingredients or inspiration stories,” says Ziegler.


With similar claims made by legitimately hand-crafted as well as mass-produced products, this proliferation – and occasional propagation – will find consumers and regulators seeking verifications for all products with claims.


  1. Matching diets with DNA


Recent consumer interest in ‘ancient grains and superfoods’ will result in consumers seeking to match diet with their personal physiology and diets that connect with their ancestry or genetic make-up.


  1. Social media is key


Social media will continue to play a significant role in the way people eat. Consumers will continue to share pictures and stories about their food on platforms like Facebook and Instagram.


“The rise of food-centric media has sparked new interest in cooking, not only for the sake of nourishment, but for the purposes of sharing one’s creations via social media,” said Ziegler.


“This finds people taking divergent paths: some hope to become well-rounded enough to compete on popular television programmes, while others privately cultivate specialties ranging from cupcakes to curries. Either way, people are cooking to share with friends and social media followers,” said Ziegler.

  1. Single meal portions


“Across age groups, more consumers are living in single-person households occasionally eating meals alone,” said Ziegler.


“These meals for one require right-sized products and packaging as well as promotions that further erode any stigma of dining solo,” Ziegler.


  1. Fat is no longer to be feared


There will be more awareness surrounding fats and acceptance of the benefits of some types of unsaturated fat. Fat content will not be the first thing consumers look at when examining product labelling.


  1. Appearance is everything


“Flavour has long been the core of innovation, but more visual and share-focused societies call for innovation that is boldly coloured and artfully constructed,” said Ziegler.


“Finding inspiration in global foodservice offerings, brands can experiment with vibrant colours and novel shapes to make packaged products worthy of consumer praise and social media posts,” said Ziegler.


Overall conclusion from Mintel


“These trends explore how consumers’ evolving priorities, opportunities from advancements in functional formulation and the almost inescapable reach of technology will affect food and drink in the coming year,”said Ziegler.


“Consumers are not the only influencers, as shifting economics, natural phenomena and social media are shaping what, how, where and with whom consumers are choosing to eat and drink.” said Ziegler.


“The trends will play out differently across the world based upon a variety of factors, including cultural norms, regional availability and societal needs. In some cases, established trends from one area are migrating to new regions, while a few emerging trends have the potential to disrupt the worldwide landscape,” Ziegler concluded.