As 2016 comes to an end, producers and retailers are looking at what the future will hold for the food industry. While analysts differ on many fronts, both Mintel and Innova Market Insights had plant-based foods and sustainability among their top trends. These trends show how modern consumer desires are evolving, with familiar aspects such as health showing up in new ways while some older trends, such as spiciness, fade.
While both analysts agreed sustainability would be important, the expression of the trend differed. Innova sees the rise of clean labels combining with consumer demand for clarity to encompass the entire supply chain, with environmentally friendly and animal welfare claims growing in importance. In comparison, Mintel expects demand for sustainability to come in the form of eliminating food waste, with the biggest expression being more acceptance of imperfect produce. In particular, products such as fruit snacks made from "ugly" fruit and mayonnaise from the liquid in packaged chickpeas can reduce waste while offering an aesthetically-pleasing product.
Both companies expect an uptick in products that emphasize plants as key ingredients. Mintel predicted more packaged foods and recipes leveraging fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, grains, botanicals and other plants to meet health and wellness priorities, as well as further expansion of vegetarian and vegan diets. Innova expects more plant-based milks, meat alternatives and vegan foods to hit the mainstream, adding more variety to the dairy category in particular.
One prediction Innova didn't share with Mintel was a new balancing act for sweeteners, as companies try to reduce sugar in their products without sacrificing clean, simple labels. In comparison, demand for choice and higher levels of authenticity in ethnic cuisines will grow, driven by consumers who are more knowledgeable about other cultures. The health trend will continue going strong, and more consumers will experiment with paleo diets and increase intake of healthier products like probiotics.
Mintel expects increased modernization of traditional foods to give them a new twist, like what happened with cold brew coffee. Convenience will continue its role as an important part of consumers' food choices, and more products are expected to community how long they will take to prepare or consume. On a similar note, products that can help people sleep and restore their body will gain popularity, including teas. Finally, Mintel expects the health trend to reach lower-income consumers, who will be on the lookout for inexpensive ways to improve their diets.