Mindful Eating and specifically Mindful Choices is number 1 on the list, with consumers looking for reassurance that a food has been responsibly sourced. This means that the environment - both planet and people – needs to be taken into consideration throughout the manufacturing process. For instance, animal welfare and responsible sourcing is of growing interest. The treatment of farmers and their workforce all need to meet ethical standards to give the consumer peace of mind that what they are eating is not doing any damage to the world in which we live. So water and energy consumption, minimising waste and protection of the workforce are all high on the agenda as today’s consumer wishes to make a responsible choice.
Ethical claims are soaring across the world with an increase of +44% for this category.
The focus on body health continues, with 4 out of 10 US and UK consumers increasing their consumption of healthy foods in 2017. Shoppers are balancing considerations taking into account nutritional values. For instance, many continue to eat red meat for its high iron content. While others are keen to try out new foods, such algae based products, for their intrinsic healthy nutritional value.
Clean label or a minimal list of real ingredients continues to be a big draw for consumers. This factor is most critical in China where 23 per cent of consumers are opting for natural (non artificial) ingredients, followed by the US, Russia, Australia, the UK, India and Spain. Take Oprah’s That’s Good baked potato soup, which carries the wording ‘Nutritious deliciousness made with real ingredients and ready in just minutes. Who doesn’t just love that?’ This sales slogan underlines consumer desire to combine ‘healthy and natural’ with an awareness of nutrition. It is sold in an easy to carry, lightweight portable container, and the tip-over ingredient is a credible celebrity endorsement.
Beverages offering dairy free options such as Califia Farms and those using alternative sweeteners such as Stevia leaf and agave syrup are all doing well. Social and environmental issues are top of mind for consumers and the industry is responding strongly by voting with their feet regarding ethical foods and biodegradeable or reusable packaging.
Interest in low and no alcohol beverages has increased substantially since 2012. Many consumers are more interested in new flavours than in alcohol content and figures for new beer launches with added flavours highlight this, with growth at around 34% in Europe. India and China is seeing 30% growth in flavoured beers, with Brazil currently on 16% growth and the US at 14%.
Another growth area of interest in drinks is for fermented beverages such as yogurt based kefir and vinegar drinks, originating in Asia. In foods in general, raw and traditional processing methods are gaining favour, such as sprouted chia and quinoa, and steeped and cold brewed tea drinks. (Kefir pic/ Sprouted foods pics here)
Health aspects are also influencing purchasing behaviour for bread and bread based products for one in four US consumers. Seeds and grains have seen considerable growth and ‘Thin’ as an on pack name has grown in popularity by 50%, with consumers finding a reassurance of health in this claim with Ryvita Thins, Popcorn Thins and Oreo Thins all striking a chord.
Going full circle
Prevention of food waste is also high on the millennial consumer agenda with a resulting interest in products cooking and using every aspect of a food (root, stalk and leaf). The EU and the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) have joined forces to combat global levels of food waste. Packaging is under the microscope and consumers are increasingly selecting planet friendly products with a lower carbon footprint or choosing products committed to ocean clean-up of plastics. According to one major paper manufacturer greaseproof or waxed paper packaging is growing substantially in popularity.
The coffee house boom is not abating, with consumers increasingly choosing these as places to work, meet and relax. Coffee and tea also remain dynamic categories as a source of food and beverage innovation with a CAGR of 4.6% and 4.4% respectively. The beverage brief is premium, natural and frequently ethical, with examples such as PicNik Butter Coffee and Giving Tree Tea. Sweet treats such as Mocha Oreo’s and KitKat, Cappuccino Twix, Espresso Spread and Coffee flavoured honey, Smash Mallow Espresso and Guylian coffee icecream, all suggest opulence with a coffee twist.
So what have been the top driving forces in food and beverage innovation?
Between 2012-2016, clean label held top spot with 26% share in the food and beverage sector with ‘Free From’ close behind at 24%. ‘Protein’ experienced rapid growth of 28% between 2012-2016 and the other major expansion is in ‘plant based products’ (with 100% plant based claims), which held just 0.3% of the market in 2016 but has experienced a 60% growth rate.
‘Sugar, salt and fat reduction’ are all high on the innovation agenda with sugar reduced products holding market share of 5% but enjoying 16% growth in 2016.
Gut health continues to lay claim to consumer interest with an increasing proportion of the supermarket market aisle set aside for gluten free products as more consumers discover they are coeliac. From personalised body health to ethical packaging and sourcing concerns, the focus continues to be on Mindful Eating.