Consumers to look for more products that offer mental health benefits, Mintel says

The research firm identified three trends the industry should monitor.

Food and drink innovations, value and the development of social commerce are the key trends for the global food, drink, and foodservice industries, according to Mintel.

In 2021 and beyond, food, drink, and foodservice brands will offer “moments of respite” through product rituals and formulations that enhance stress relief activities. As the singular focus of avoiding COVID-19 fades, people will make more serious commitments to reduce the health risks associated with unhealthy eating, become more interested in mindful and intuitive eating, and seek proof and incentives through the use of technology.

“The COVID-19 global pandemic has made consumers recognise that wellbeing is a vital concern. In the coming years, consumers will be looking for more products and services that offer mental and emotional health benefits,” Mintel Food & Drink associate director Alex Beckett explained.

“Functional formulations and emotionally engaging multisensory products will help food, drink, and foodservice brands command a larger share among a myriad of mental and emotional health options. We predict that innovative food and drink formulations will help people learn how diet can impact mental and emotional health, which will lead to new interest in psychology-based approaches to healthy eating.”

Beckett also told companies to expect consumers look for “approachable” upscale meals for special ‘hometainment’ occasions. Brands and retailers will launch appropriately priced products with ethical or environmental claims and consumers increase their expectations for contactless retail that will expand to include experiential services, he added.

Over the next five years and beyond, brands and operators that invest in seamless retail and equitable access to healthy food are predicted to come out on top.

“As markets reopen, the pace of life will get busier and consumers will expect time-saving, hygienic, and adventurous convenience food, drink, and foodservice. In the next few years, brands will also be challenged to respond to new definitions of quality and ensure ecommerce is accessible to shoppers of all socioeconomic levels. The focus on getting the best value for one's money will motivate brands to be more transparent about product price by providing details about the ingredients, processes, and people that are reflected in a product's price,” Beckett said.

Beckett also expects food, drink, and foodservice companies will encourage people to use their brands as a form of self-expression and a way to reconnect with their pre-pandemic identities in the next 12 months.

“Recognising the importance of connection and support, consumers will organise in like-minded communities for socialisation and camaraderie. Food, drink, and foodservice brands can take advantage of their positions as common interests and passions to which consumers can tie their identities and actively bring individual fans together,” he said.

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