Modern versions of traditional favourites, plant-based recipes and waste reduction are expected to be major global food trends next year, according to a new study.

Analysts firm Mintel has today (11 November) published its Food & Drink Trends 2017 report, which highlights six key themes set to impact the global market.

The trends identified in the study were grounded in consumer demands for healthy, convenient and trustworthy food and drink, stated Mintel global food and drink analyst Jenny Zegler.

"Manufacturers and retailers have opportunities to provide more people with food and drink that is recognisable, saves time and contains servings of beneficial fruits, vegetables and other plants,” she said.

The six food and drink trends are:

In Tradition We Trust

The “rapid pace of change, unpredictability of current events and contentious political environments in many countries” are leading people to seek products that are recognisable rather than revolutionary, said Mintel, adding it expects demand for modernised updates of “age-old formulations, flavours and formats”.

Manufacturers should look to the past for inspiration and make use of “ancient” product claims including ancient grains and ancient recipes, practices and traditions.

Power To The Plants

Interest is growing in vegetarian and vegan products, according to Mintel, with consumers choosing these as an occasional drink, snack or meal rather than as part of a wholesale change to a plant-based lifestyle.

More packaged products and recipes for home cooking will use fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, grains, botanicals and other plants to tap into demand for food and drink offering health and wellness benefits, states the report.

Waste Not

Retailers, restaurants and philanthropic organisations are addressing the amount of food and drink that is wasted and are helping to change consumer perceptions, said Mintel.

According to WRAP, the Waste and Resources Action Programme, the UK bakery, cake and cereals manufacturing sector generated 90,000 tonnes of avoidable waste in 2014/15. That is about 10% of the food manufacturing sector’s total avoidable waste. 

In 2017, the stigma associated with imperfect produce will begin to fade, added Mintel, and more products will make use of ingredients that would have otherwise gone to waste such as fruit snacks made from “ugly” fruit.

Time Is Of The Essence

“Time is an increasingly precious resource, and our multitasking lifestyles are propelling a need for short-cut solutions that are still fresh, nutritious and customisable,” states the report.

In 2017, the time spent on – or saved by – a food or drink product is expected to become a selling point, inspiring more products to communicate how long they will take to prepare.

Mintel gave the example of an Australian product - Herbert Adams Gourmet Slow Cooked 6 Hours Smoky Pulled Pork Pies – that emphasises the time invested in its production process in the product name.

The Night Shift

Analysts identified the evening as an opportunity for functional food and drink.

“The increasingly hectic pace of modern life is creating a market for food and drink that helps people of all ages calm down before bedtime, sleep better and restore the body while they rest,” said Mintel.

Products could use chamomile, lavender and other herbs as a way to achieve a sense of calm before bedtime, and there is also potential for evening-focused innovations formulated for relaxation, satiety and providing functional benefits while the consumer sleeps. 

Mintel points out that Czech bakery producer Penam last year launched high-protein, low-carbohydrate bread intended for evening consumption.

Health For Everyone

Healthy food and drink are not “luxuries”, said Mintel, which expects more activity and innovation to make it easier for lower-income consumers to improve their diets.

“Many lower-income consumers want to improve their diets but the access to — and the cost of — healthy food and drink is often an impediment,” states the report.