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Mintel Announces The Global Food And Drink Trends For 2018

Posted By Jenny Zegler, Mintel, Wednesday 13 December 2017
Updated: Friday 8 December 2017

Mintel food and drink  trends 2018

In 2018, expect to see transparency and traceability for all, regardless of income. From ingredient scares to political bombshells, self-care has become a priority for many and one that includes choosing food and drink that will address perceived nutritional, physical and emotional needs. Further, opportunities will be plentiful for natural, tantalising and unexpected textures, like chewy beverages for instance. 

Meanwhile, retailer and manufacturer access to personal data has opened up the doors for them to personalise offers and promotions. This ties up with the growth in online and mobile shopping, and even voice activated search that fuels consumer expectations of their desires being catered to and satisfied almost effortlessly. 

Looking ahead to 2018, Mintel has identified the major trends predicted to play out in the global food and drink market, beginning with the trends that will gain wider traction in the months ahead to emerging trends that are influential, but just on the fringe in many regions. Below, we’ve showcased three of these trends which we can predict will work their way across the Island of Ireland in the year ahead: Full Disclosure; New Sensations; and Preferential Treatment.

Full disclosure
“In our new post-truth reality, consumers require complete and total transparency from food and drink companies.”

A sizeable number of consumers around the world lack trust in regulatory systems, manufacturers, and even their fellow humans. This compounds a pre-existing wariness about food and drink because of product recalls, scandals, and suspicion about large companies. The need for reassurance about the safety and trustworthiness of food and drink has led to an increased use of natural as well as ethical and environmental claims in global food and drink launches. 

According to Mintel Global New Products Database (GNPD), natural product claims appeared on 29% of global food and drink launches from September 2016 to August 2017, up from 17% of global food and drink launches that used natural claims between September 2006 and August 2007. Similarly, ethical and environmental claims such as environmentally friendly packaging as well as animal and human welfare claims have risen to 22% of global food and drink introductions between September 2016 and August 2017. This is up from just 1% in the same period from 2006 to 2007.

As shown by the growth in natural, ethical, and environmental claims, widespread distrust has increased the need for food and drink manufacturers to be forthcoming about their ingredients, production processes, and supply chains. This places pressure on manufacturers to offer thorough and honest disclosures about their products. Food and drink transparency can take many different directions but the various claims serve a singular purpose: to help consumers feel more confident about the safety and purity of the food and drink they purchase.

In addition to disclosing more specific transparency details, the next wave of clean label challenges manufacturers and retailers to democratise transparency and traceability so that products are accessible to all consumers regardless of household income. Making transparency attainable to consumers reflects the principles of Mintel’s 2017 Global Food & Drink Trend ‘Balancing the Scales: Health for Everyone’, which noted that healthy food and drink are not to be considered luxuries.


French milk brand C’est qui le patron?! (which translates to “Who’s the boss?!”) surveyed 6,850 consumers online about half a dozen criteria from farm gate price to packaging in order to develop its product.

New Sensations
“Texture is the latest tool to engage the senses and deliver share-worthy experiences.”

Encounters that appeal to multiple senses can provide consumers with escapes from the routine and stress of their lives, opportunities to make memories, or generate ‘like-worthy’ social media posts. Mintel’s 2016 Global Food & Drink Trend ‘Eat With Your Eyes’ observed the potential for food and drink to involve more of the senses through colour, shape, fragrance, and other formulation elements. In 2018, the sound, feel, and satisfaction that texture provides will become more important to companies and consumers alike.

Texture has a particular opportunity to follow the lead of colour, which has become a popular feature in formulations that aim to allure more of the senses. Food and drink products have used a variety of ingredients like turmeric, matcha and activated charcoal to create vibrantly hued drinks, snacks, and other food that attracts attention, especially on Instagram and other image-centric media. Colour will continue to be important, but texture is the next facet of formulation that can be leveraged to provide consumers with interactive—and documentation-worthy—experiences.
From chewy beverages to multi-textured concoctions such as freakshakes, texture can make products more captivating for consumers who continue to seek food and drink that is perceived as fresh, functional, filling, or simply fun. To align with this trend, brands can ensure products contain multiple, contrasting textures, which allow for a complex and engaging consumption experience for consumers. 

Asia is a model for the potential of unexpected applications of texture in food and drink because the region hosts a range of beverages with pulp, tapioca pearls, and extra carbonation along with food that also boasts innovative textures that might be unheard of in other parts of the world. The latest textured beverage to take Asia by storm is cheese tea, a bubble or iced tea drink topped with cream cheese, leaving the drinker with a telltale cream cheese moustache. 

In 2018, more products can be developed with combinations of textures that surprise and delight consumers. As with colour, more companies have the opportunity to add texture via natural ingredients, such as the pulp of fruit or vegetables, the tingle of spicy peppers, or carbonation resulting from fermentation as with kombucha. Production processes also can be utilised to enhance or innovate around texture, such as freeze-drying fruit for snacking or twice-baking salty snacks.

Nabisco Oreo honored US Independence Day celebrations with a limited-edition chocolate Oreo with red and blue popping candy inside the cream.

Preferential Treatment

A new era in personalisation is dawning due to the expansion of online and mobile food shopping. 

Motivated by the potential to save time and ideally money, consumers are sampling a variety of channels and technologies when shopping for food and drink. The latest evolutions in shopping offer consumers prompt and affordable delivery, a curated adventure courtesy of subscription services, ease of automatic replenishment, and simplicity of synchronisation with smart home devices.

Busy consumers are drawn to e-commerce sites, mobile apps, voice control, and other online and mobile options because they are advantageous to their busy schedules and potentially their budgets. As technology helps to make shopping as effortless as possible, an era of targeted promotions and products is emerging. The adoption of voice-enabled smart home accessories, such as Amazon Echo or Google Home, will make it easier to add items to shopping lists. On the supplier end, brands, companies and retailers can leverage technology to establish new levels of efficiency, such as customised recommendations, cross-category pairings, and resourceful solutions that save consumers time, effort, and energy. 

Moving beyond convenience, technology will offer new possibilities for personalised recommendations of products and individually targeted promotions. The personalisation made possible by new technologies could draw in more consumers, and the main benefit for brands is that personalised offers will make the marketing spend more effective.

The rapid expansion in the variety of food and drink retail channels will fuel the opportunity for recommendations, promotions, and product innovations that are based on actual consumer behaviour patterns. While this offers opportunity, it also could compromise brand discovery and endanger brand loyalty because custom offers might prioritise benefits, such as convenience, value or time, over brand. 

Finally, companies also could tempt consumers by creating products, suggesting combinations of goods and other options across consumer categories that align with online and offline behaviours. This new era of plentiful places to shop will pressure all brands to be more relevant, efficient and/or affordable in order to retain customers.

Amazon launched a range of private label products in 2017 under the Happy Belly and Wickedly Prime brands, offering exclusive brands for online grocery shoppers.


Mintel’s 2018 Global Food & Drink Trends are the result of collaboration among 60 of of Mintel’s global expert analysts from around the world. These global conversations have led to key trends that reflect overarching consumer themes including trust, self-care, stress, individuality, and sustainability. To showcase the relevance of the five future-looking trends, our analyst insights have been supported by evidence gathered from Mintel’s proprietary consumer research, innovative developments observed by Mintel’s expert team of trend spotters, and international food and drink products collected in Mintel Global New Products Database (GNPD). To download a free copy of the report, please visit:



Jenny Zegler is the dedicated trends analyst on Mintel’s Food & Drink platform, blending Mintel Trends expertise with food and drink specific topics, such as health and wellness, formulation, sustainability and premiumization. In addition to contributing analysis to Mintel Food & Drink, Jenny has been part of the team that creates Mintel’s annual cross-category trends since 2014.

Mintel is the world's leading market intelligence agency. For over 40 years, Mintel's expert analysis of the highest quality data and market research has directly impacted on client success. With offices in London, Chicago, Belfast, Kuala Lumpur, Mumbai, Munich, New York, São Paulo, Shanghai, Singapore, Sydney, Tokyo and Toronto, Mintel has forged a unique reputation as a world-renowned business brand. For more information on Mintel, please visit Follow Mintel on Twitter: or join the Mintel LinkedIn group: For more information about how Mintel can help your business, contact Ciara Rafferty, Director, Mintel Ireland on +44 (0)28 9024 1849 or  

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