CHICAGO — Consumers are looking for a little treat these days, which provides food manufacturers some direction as to where to go next when introducing new products.

“What drives consumers? They’re interested in premium,” said Lynn Dornblaser, director of innovation and insight at Mintel. “They want smaller formats as well. And some consumers, especially younger ones, want international inspired products, and they want functional benefits. To me what really stands out is the premiumness and the smaller formats. Give yourself a really indulgent treat but just a little less of it than you might normally want to eat.”

Ms. Dornblaser spoke to an audience about categories poised for growth at IFT FIRST Event & Expo, which was held in Chicago and online July 10-13. The show is presented annually by the Institute of Food Technologists.

She said that products must deliver on value to succeed in the market, especially with consumers feeling inflation’s pinch.

“We see more consumers who are a little bit concerned about their financial situation,” Ms. Dornblaser said. “I think that’s something that definitely has to be kept in mind. Consumers might begin to trade down, they might seek out more private label, and they might make some changes. What we do know: They’re not going to cut back significantly on going to the grocery store. That’s good news for the industry. But they could be making some switches between one brand and another and that’s something to keep in mind.”

Products that provide elevated value, benefits for consumers and the environment, and focus on flavor are opportunities for future growth, she said. Also, those brands that experiment with authentic Asian flavors and look for convenient solutions, such as single-serving products, are trends to which consumers are responding.