For its annual global trends report, Mintel compiled consumer data from 36 global markets, product launches from its Global New Products Database (GNPD), and additional insights from its suite of data science and analytics tools.
Cognitive health and focus
Among the several expectations consumers have for food and beverages, nutrition in the form of cognitive health benefits is rising to the top of their needs list.
"Consumers will look for food and drink that influence cognitive capacity, manage stress levels, and optimize brain function," noted Mintel.
This emerging consumer need state will take shape in the form of beverages with less caffeine and brands exploring alternative ingredients such as ginseng and L-theanine, which have been linked to positive cognitive performance. In the US, yaupon -- a specific tea leaf native to the US -- is currently trending for a more mellow energy buzz and a high antioxidant profile.
Often overlooked, fruits and vegetables will also become a critical piece of consumers' personal health journeys, predicted Mintel,
"Fruits, vegetables, and other plants can explain how their inherent nutrition links with cognitive health. For example, legumes like pinto beans are sources of magnesium, a mineral that has been linked with reducing stress and fatigue.
"Looking forward, new research and patents related to the gut-brain axis will create opportunities to highlight how the digestive health benefits of pro-, pre-, and post-biotics support cognitive health. This gives fiber-rich foods such as produce the potential to shine."
The niche but rapidly growing segments of nootropics and adaptogens are also gaining consumer interest but more research is needed before products touting such ingredients go mainstream, according to Mintel.
"Brands must be transparent and educate consumers with accurate, evidence-based information. Research also will be especially necessary to prove any mental well-being benefits from possible new ingredients in the future like psilocybin, a psychedelic compound found in mushrooms."
Simplified messaging: '...saves stories for websites...'
Brands and products must finetune and simplify their messaging and communication strategies in order to connect with consumers who are overwhelmed by the amount of information available.
Consumers now feel there is too much information available, reversing previous interest in brand storytelling and full-disclosure-style messaging which was highlighted in Mintel's previous 2016 and 2018 Global Food and Drink reports
"Going forward, consumers will look for brands that focus on their advantages on packaging—and save stories for websites, social media, and marketing," Mintel highlighted.
This shift in behavior will likely give rise to more third-party certifications and labels that can be a short-hand way for consumers to understand a product's specific benefits, predicted Mintel.
The US experienced 15 weather natural disasters in 2022 prompting urgent consumer need states around easy-to-consume, fast nutrition, added Mintel.
"Innovations will be needed in the next 2-5 years to help people withstand heat waves, warm up during cold spells, and find comfort during weather emergencies," said Mintel, highlighting hearty heat-and-eat stews with lentils and vegetables and hard candy infused with essential nutrients such sodium, potassium, and Vitamin C.
"Innovations also need formats that are easy to use, including products that require only water to prepare or can be made when power is rationed, like self-heating packaging."