Food trends
Mintel unveils six key trends set to impact the food and drink market.

CHICAGO — The year ahead will be one of extremes, according to Mintel in its Global Food and Drink Trends for 2017 report. “Ancient” products such as grains, recipes, practices and traditions, as well as the use of technology to create better tasting plant-enhanced foods play a major role on the market research firm’s list of trends.

Mintel expects a rise in both “slow” and “fast” claims and more products designed to help consumers wind down before bedtime, sleep better and restore while they rest. There will be opportunities to leverage products based on the tea category and the use of chamomile, lavender and other herbs in formulations as a way to achieve a sense of calm before bedtime along with nighttime chocolate indulgences. Also, Mintel said to expect fruit snacks made with “ugly” fruit and mayonnaise made with the liquid from draining chickpeas, dubbed “aquafaba.”

According to Mintel, the six key food and drink trends for 2017 will be:

Ancient grain cereal and cold brew coffee

Tradition. Consumers will seek comfort in modern updates of age-old formulations, flavors and formats. Consumers will seek safety in products that are recognizable rather than revolutionary. Terms like “ancient” will hold favor with consumers, and producers will find potential in innovations that use the familiar as a base for something that’s new but recognizable, such as cold brew coffee.

Plant-based products

Plant-based. Natural and simple diets will further expand vegetarian, vegan and other plant-focused formulations. The industry will welcome more products that utilize plants as key ingredients. More packaged products and recipes for home cooking will leverage fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, grains, botanicals and other plants as a way to align with consumers’ health and wellness priorities.

Food waste

Less waste. The elimination of food waste has gained strength among consumers and will continue into next year. The food industry as a whole will address the sheer amount of food and drink that is wasted around the world, which is changing consumer perceptions. Food waste will be repurposed in new ways, such as power sources.

Quick and convenient food

Saving time. The time required to prepare foods will become as important and influential as ingredient labels and nutritional claims. In 2017, the time spent on — or saved by — a food or drink product will become a clear selling point, inspiring more products to directly communicate how long they will take to receive, prepare or consume.

Products for sleep and relaxation

Evening occasion. Functional food and drink formulations will make a mark in the New Year. Modern life’s hectic pace will create a market that helps people of all ages calm down before bedtime, sleep better and restore the body while they rest. Ahead, there is potential for more evening-focused innovations formulated for relaxation, satiety and, taking a cue from the beauty industry, food and drink that provide functional benefits while the consumer sleeps.

Ugly produce

Health and wellness. Consumers will look for healthy options that are not luxuries, but rather products that fit into everyday life and allow lower-income families to access healthy foods and improve their diets and quality of life. More campaigns and innovations, including apps to help people make use of ingredients that are on sale and, in a tie-in with Mintel’s 2017 Global Food & Drink Trend Waste Not, a value-priced box of “ugly” vegetables.

Jenny Zegler, Mintel
Jenny Zegler, global food and drink analyst at Mintel

“This year’s trends are grounded in current consumer demands for healthy, convenient and trustworthy food and drink,” said Jenny Zegler, global food and drink analyst at Mintel. “Across the world, manufacturers and retailers have opportunities to provide more people with food and drink that is recognizable, saves time and contains servings of beneficial fruits, vegetables and other plants.

“In addition, Mintel has identified exciting new opportunities for functional food and drink designed for evening consumption, progressive solutions for food waste and affordable healthy food for low-income consumers. Opportunities abound for companies around the world to capitalize on these trends, helping them develop in new regions and more categories throughout the course of the next year and into the future.”