Sustainability: a 360-degree approach
The definition of sustainability has expanded to incorporate the entire product life cycle from suppliers to consumers, according to Mintel analysts.
This more circular approach will require companies, retailers, and consumers to embrace their roles in the sustainable sourcing, production, distribution, consumption and disposal of products, said Mintel.
On the consumer end, a heightened awareness of packaging and food waste has come to the forefront.
“A seismic shift in how consumers think about plastic is underway as they become more aware of the damage plastic waste does to the planet,” Mintel reported.
Many organizations, companies, and packaging industry coalitions have come together to help reduce plastic use and waste as a result.
“Biobased packaging materials will be key components to the next generation of responsible packaging,” added Mintel.
The supplier has an increased responsibility as well as soil health and regenerative agriculture initiatives have taken the spotlight in recent years. Brands such as EPIC Provisions recently became the first consumer brand to carry the newly-launched Land to Market Ecological Verification (EOV) trademarked seal on one of its products.
In 2019, Mintel predicts further support and demand for corporate sustainability programs and increased commitments to improve circularity of packaging materials through improved recycling, reuse, composing and use of environmentally-friendly materials.
Given that the population of people over the age of 60 continues to grow and people are living longer, the dialogue around health and wellness has now transitioned to a more targeted industry conversation around healthy aging, according to Mintel.
Food and drink manufacturers have many opportunities to formulate and brand products to meet this consumer demand especially in the areas of bone, joint, immune system, and brain health and longevity.
Mintel noted that food and drink manufacturers can draw on emerging research into nutrition and longevity as well as traditional medicine practices, such as Ayurveda and Traditional Chinese Medicine, to develop products catered to an aging population.
In 2019, Mintel foresees an increase in the use of holistic ingredients such as ginger, turmeric, green tea extract, and medicinal mushrooms.
“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,” Jenny Zegler, associate director, Mintel food & drink, said.
On-the-go consumers are shopping across channels for grab-and-go breakfasts, quick snacks, and dinner-time solutions, according to Mintel.
At the same time, consumers are expecting high-quality food and beverage options that fit into their fast-paced, time-crunched lifestyles without having to sacrifice on their health goals or flavor.
“Premium, fresh, and healthy convenience food and drink are essential now that many people consider themselves to be foodies, which raises their expectations of food quality, flavours, and formats,” Mintel stated.
Mintel added that food and beverage manufacturers must have wide distribution in order to stay competitive against the tempting convenience and availability of quick service restaurants or fast foodservice delivery.
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, Mintel said.
“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,” Zegler added.