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Five food and drink trends you could see in 2018

December 01 2017

The back-end of any year always raises the same question amongst Canadian chefs and restaurateurs: ‘what will be the biggest food and drink trends next year?’.

We can’t know for sure until they happen, but someone who has a decent idea is market intelligence agency Mintel, which has just laid out what it predicts will be the five key trends to hit the global food and drink market over the coming year.

Texture

In 2018, the sound, feel and satisfaction that texture can deliver will become more important for consumers.

Texture is a sometimes-overlooked avenue to engaging the senses and delivering remarkable dining experiences; restaurants that prioritise addressing this are set to capitalise, Mintel reckons.

Restaurants and chefs should exploit the opportunities presented with multisensory food and drink by incorporating unexpected texture to their dishes, providing consumers - especially the younger generations - with tangible connections to the real world, as well as moments worth sharing either in-person or online.

Preferential treatment

Plenty of consumers love to feel like they’re an extra special priority and that the standard of service they’re receiving is above the norm, whether it’s in the mall, the gas station or the dining area.

Consumers are sampling a variety of channels and technologies when shopping for food and drink, such as home delivery, subscription services and automatic replenishment.

Mintel suggests that opportunities exist for restaurants to tempt consumers by offering deals or combinations of dishes/promotions and other options across consumer categories that make dining more efficient and affordable for customers.

Total transparency

Mintel believes that consumers will demand and expect complete transparency from food and drink companies.

Manufacturers will have little option but to offer thorough and honest disclosures about how, where, when and by whom food and drink is grown, harvested, made, and/or sold. And it’s all down to widespread distrust caused by things like the horsemeat scandal from 2013.

This wariness among consumers has already led to an increased use of natural, ethical and environmental claims in global food and drink launches, and clearer labels will challenge manufacturers and retailers to be more transparent.

Sure, this point largely concerns food manufacturers, but this increased demand for transparency and traceability of ingredients is likely to be sustained when consumers eat out.

Consequently, diners will be keen to know not only what they’re being served, but also how it got there, so devise your dishes with the aim of addressing perceived nutritional, physical and emotional needs.

Self-care

2018 is expected to see consumers take their attitude to healthy eating to the next level, Mintel says, as flexible and balanced diets become integral elements of self-care routines.

This is the result of modern life becoming more hectic and stressful, with consumers looking to their food for ways of escaping the negativity in their lives.

Things like portion sizes, as well as a variety of formats and formulations, will have the opportunity to present consumers with positive solutions that can be incorporated into their definition of health and wellness.

Again, ingredients and combinations of food and drink that provide nutrition, physical or emotional benefits can play a major part in advancing self-care.

Tech cuisine

Mintel’s fifth and final point centres around the manufacture of food itself.

The agency believes that technology will begin to disrupt the traditional food chain as enterprising manufacturers aim to replace farms and factories with laboratories.

Lab-grown, cultured or synthetic food and drink is only just beginning to emerge, but technology could eventually be used to design food and drink with a greater nutritional value.

This could extend the consumer audience for scientifically engineered food and drink beyond environmentally conscious shoppers to reach consumers who are concerned about ingredient consistency, efficacy and purity.

Click here to download Mintel's 44-page Global Food & Drink Trends 2018 report for free

Summary

In a nutshell, transparency and traceability of ingredients will be key in 2018. Meanwhile, the rapid expansion in the variety of food and drink retail channels will fuel the opportunity for recommendations, promotions and product innovations that are personalised based on individual consumer behavior.

Finally, progressive and forward-looking companies will be working hard to replace traditional farms and factories with scientifically engineered ingredients and finished products.

Jenny Zegler, Mintel’s global food and drink analyst, said: “In 2018, Mintel foresees opportunities for manufacturers and retailers to help consumers regain trust in food and drink and to relieve stress through balanced diets, as well as memorable eating and drinking experiences.

“There also is an exciting new chapter dawning in which technology will help brands and retailers forge more personalised connections with shoppers, while enterprising companies are using scientific engineering to create an exciting new generation of sustainable food and drink."

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