Mintel, Chicago, announced three forward-looking trends in global food and drink innovation in 2019 and beyond.  

“In 2019, support of and demand for more corporate sustainability programs will grow as consumers better understand what’s required to get closer to achieving a truly circular food and drink economy. These sustainability efforts will include not only improving access to recycling, but [also] creating products with ingredients that are grown in accordance to regenerative agriculture practices,” says Jenny Zegler, associate director, food and drink. “Expect to also see food and drink manufacturers look to the beauty and personal care industry for inspiration for healthy ageing product development. More food and drink will address longevity-related health concerns, be marketed with positive language that rejects terms like ‘anti-ageing’ for its negative connotations and appeal across ages. Finally, we predict the rising segment of consumers who are often on-the-go, yet want to spend more time at home will increase demand for upscale, ‘speed scratch’ solutions and restaurant-quality, ready-to-consume products. As meal kits and foodservice-inspired beverages lead the way, there will also be more opportunities for brands to develop healthy, flavorful, customizable and quick premium convenience products for breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks and dessert occasions.”

Evergreen consumption

The definition of sustainability is extending to encompass the entire product lifecycle. From farm to retailer to fork to bin, and ideally, to rebirth as a new plant, ingredient, product or package, this 360-degree approach will ensure resources are kept in use for as long as possible. The movement toward circularity as the new sustainability will require collaboration between suppliers, manufacturers, governments, non-profits, retailers and consumers.

A seismic shift in how consumers think about plastic is underway, with bio-based packaging materials set to be a key component to the next generation of responsible packaging. In 2019 and beyond, sustainability efforts will include not only improving access to recycling, but also incentivizing consumers to recycle packaging and offering upcycled goods. At the same time, efforts to improve air pollution, support plant welfare, restore soil health and embrace regenerative agriculture will emerge as crucial elements of holistic sustainability programs that are important to companies and consumers alike.

Through the ages

Preparing oneself for a longer, healthier lifespan is particularly relevant, as consumers prioritize health and wellness as a holistic, proactive and ongoing pursuit. Longer lifespans present significant opportunities for food and drink manufacturers to take inspiration from the beauty industry, which has established a model for healthy ageing by designing proactive products marketed with positive language to people of all ages.

Specific to the world’s diverse senior populations, their needs can be addressed through food and drink for medical purposes, as well as products designed for prevention, with formulations that are nutritious, flavorful and easy to consume. Yet as humans are living longer, more food and drink can be formulated to address concerns from people of all ages about bone, joint, brain and eye health as well as other age-related health concerns.

Elevated convenience

From breakfast to dinner, a new generation of modern convenience food and drink is emerging, as manufacturers respond to rising healthy eating priorities, quests for foodie-inspired flavors, interests in personalization and competition from speedy delivery services. Looking ahead, a new wave of shortcuts will be available, offering new conveniences such as the expansion of individual meal kits sold at retail, foodservice-inspired packaged beverages and a new generation of prepared meals, sides and sauces that emulate the flavors and formats of restaurant meals.

Advancements in technology will also elevate the expectations of convenient food and drink options for consumers moving forward, from planning to shopping to preparation. Interest in premium convenience will not be limited to dinnertime, creating opportunities for every meal, snack and beverage break.