"Climate change is creating a need for food and drink companies to innovate to help consumers prepare for unpredictable events," Mattuci said. "There are a lot of ways for brands to help consumers prepare for the future... Innovative brands [can] offer consumers support, helping them endure things like heat waves, sub-zero temperatures, as well as disastrous weather events."
Combating UV rays, pollutants with antioxidants
One area consumers are focusing on is food and beverage products that protect against air pollution, Mattuci said. More than two-thirds of 2,000 surveyed US consumers said they are interested in products that fight against urban pollution, according to Mintel and Kantar Profiles.
“There are lots of practical and tactical areas that brands can support in an everyday way. Some of these key areas [are] food ingredients to help consumers cope with climate change. For instance, eating an antioxidant-rich diet is more important than ever to help the body fight against free radical damage caused from pollution and harmful UV rays.”
Consumers can eat a more antioxidant-rich diet by adopting a Mediterranean or Blue Zone diet, which is “typically really antioxidant rich full of foods, fruits, and vegetables,” Mattuci said. Products like olive oil and antioxidant-rich teas are just a few products that can address this demand, she added.
Beating the extreme heat with hydration innovation
Staying hydrated during extreme temperatures will increasingly become a concern for consumer and a focus of food and beverage innovation, Mattuci said.
“During those periods of extreme heat, the CDC and the US recommends staying hydrated by drinking more fluids, of course, replenishing salts and minerals that are lost through sweating, but also by avoiding sugary or alcoholic drinks. Foods with high- water content such as things like melons or cucumbers or other ways that people can ... stay hydrated.”
Over the last several years, hydration has become "an area of health that many consumers are already keen to," Mattuci said. In the US, 83% of more than 1,700 consumers surveyed said "staying hydrated is one of their most important health goals, and 85% think staying hydrated keeps them productive at work," she added.
Consumers are looking for beverages with electrolytes and a lower sugar content, with products like Gatorade Light, and in the snack space, Pitaya Foods' Aloe Vera bite-sized pieces that contain high-water content, Mattuci said.
Additionally, the non-alcoholic and low-alcohol space is providing another way for consumers to stay healthy and hydrate while tapping into larger sober-curious trends, Mattuci said. Of more than 1,700 US consumers surveyed, 50% said that they’re interested in a sober-curious lifestyle, and 39% said they are sober-curious for health reasons. Products like Mingle’s Cucumber Melon Mojito Mocktail and Relax Pineapple Hop Sparkling Water are just several options for consumers to choose from to hydrate and avoid alcohol, she shared.
Consumers prepare for the worst, look for better-for-you options
Many consumers are preparing emergency kits for extreme weather-related events from fire to floods. Though emergency rations have historically not been very nutritious, Mattuci sees an opportunity for CPG brands to innovate better-for-you, shelf-stable products that require less energy or water than traditional products for just such occasions.
“We know that nervous consumers are looking for ways to reassure themselves, and one way to do that is to be prepared. Food and drink innovation will be called upon to deliver those easy-to-use nutrition and support consumers who are looking to stock their pantries in case of those catastrophic events.”
In terms of crisis, consumers will look to products that reduce tiredness and fatigue and boost satiety, Mattuci said. For example, konjac noodles and shelf-stable tuna products with high iron levels and can help with energy levels, and easy-to-prepared buckwheat meals can be "a rich source of fiber and magnesium," she added.
“Certainly, there have been many issues that are adding to consumers' nerves starting with the pandemic to the war in Ukraine and severe weather, supply chain issues, the financial crisis; those are just some of the many factors that are really driving home the importance of being prepared at home. So, this global state of perma-crisis really has forced consumers to embrace this prepper culture to maintain some control over their lives.”