Mintel identifies emerging trends in North America

by Keith Nunes
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Veggie burgers
Novel protein sources, fat and more natural less-processed foods will appeal to more consumers in 2016, Mintel said.

CHICAGO — Mintel International’s “Global food and drinks trends 2016” report identifies new ways North American consumers may be approaching diet, sustainability and their perception of innovation. Five emerging trends highlighted by the market research company include “diet by D.N.A.,” “Eco is the new reality,” “From the inside out,” “Fat sheds stigma,” and “Eat with your eyes.”

Three of the trends, diet by D.N.A., from the inside out, and fat sheds stigma, all relate to how consumer perception of health and wellness may be changing.

“Interest in natural and ‘getting back to basics’ has boosted ancient grains and superfoods, fostering a principle that age-old staples are better than today’s manufactured options,” said Jenny Zegler, global food and drink analyst for Mintel, of the diet by D.N.A. trend. “Interest in historical ingredients suggests that consumers could make efforts to unlock the keys to their personal physiology and design diets by connecting with their own ancestry or genetic make-up.”

Along the same lines, consumers are recognizing that diets may connect with the way they look and feel, according to Mintel. The from the inside out trend places new emphasis on packaged foods and beverages that are formulated to help people’s physical appearance as well as their personal wellness, and creating a market for products featuring such ingredients as probiotics and collagen.

The Mintel report also makes it clear consumers are paying attention to news about the benefits of some types of fat.

“Consumers’ negative stereotype that any and all fat content is evil has begun to diminish,” Ms. Zegler said. “The awareness of the many sources of good and bad fats is ushering in a paradigm shift in which fat content is not the first and foremost consideration — and barrier — in the search for healthy products.”

Hands holding the earth
Sustainability will become a necessary part of new product development, according to Mintel.

Ms. Zegler added that consumer perceptions related to sustainability also are shifting as more people learn about the issues associated with the drought in California and food waste.

“Drought, worries about food waste and other natural phenomena not only affect the worldwide food and drink supply, but influence preparation and production,” she said. “In 2016, sustainability evolves from being good for the bottom line to being a necessary part of new product development for the common good.”

Finally, Ms. Zegler pointed out that while taste is still the primary driver of food and beverage demand, social media applications also may be exerting greater influence on consumer choice.

“Flavor has long been the core of innovation, but more visual and share-focused societies call for innovation that is boldly colored and artfully constructed,” she said. “Finding inspiration in global food service offerings, brands can experiment with vibrant colors and novel shapes to make packaged products worthy of consumer praise and social media posts.”

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