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Summer food and drink trends

Mintel’s food and drink analysts predict the global trends that clubs can expect to see this summer. So what’s hot and what’s not?

Using analysis of new products hitting store shelves around the world, and observing the latest insights into consumer behaviour Mintel’s research has identified some key trends which are likely to impact on club food offerings.

At the barbie, Barbecue season is in full swing and its popularity remains unabashed. But while some consider steak and sausage more traditional grilling favourites, with veganism on the rise many consumers are grilling up new and innovative options. Although barbecue selection has become more diverse with the addition of fish and cheese in the recent years, vegan barbecues might not have been a consideration for a meat-eater – until now.

The selection, taste and quality of vegan products in the sector are reaching new heights this year. One example is UK retailer Sainsbury’s, which launched seven new plant-based products in early 2018, including BBQ pulled jackfruit, mushroom mince and cauliflower burgers.

Flavour-bursting new varieties made from innovative ingredients like Indian jackfruit, which due to its texture and flavour is becoming an increasingly popular meat substitute, wlll be the star of the barbecue this summer.

With an increase in flavourful and speciality vegan products, such as black bean chipotle, quinoa crunch southwest or Asian spiced burgers, expect to see plenty of well-seasoned and savoury options that just might tempt the flexitarian away from their sausages.

This trend is proving particularly popular in Europe. Various concerns have led to a majority of Germans and Poles, known for their meat-heavy diets, to make a point of regularly having meat-free days. Six out of 10 (57%) Germans and over half (55%) of Poles regularly have meat-free days. And the story looks similar in other parts of the world. In the US, 33% of consumers plan to buy more plant-based food products in the next year, rising to 37% of Millennials.

Ice cream –a hot topic

Perhaps the biggest news story in the American ice cream industry last year was the success of Halo Top. The low-sugar, lowcalorie, added-protein ice cream outsold giants like Unilever and Nestlé Dreyers to become the best-selling ice cream in the US in July 2017. It prominently communicates the calorie count on the tub, a distinctly transparent approach which consumers have welcomed. The brand has found success by conveying a diet-friendly image in a category which pivots around indulgence.

This summer, then, expect to see healthy ice creams spill over into Europe, where demand is already strong (over two-thirds of consumers in key markets say that the calorie content of ice cream should be clearly stated on pack). Likewise, low sugar ranks amongst the highest factors of attributes which would encourage increased usage of ice cream in Europe.

Ice cream brands which claim to offer health benefits have historically been hard to find in Europe. It has traditionally been challenging and even contradictory to simultaneously convey both a healthy and indulgent appeal. However, the repercussions of Halo Top’s success will, undoubtedly, change this. As consumers look to balance their diets with an occasional treat and a boost to their mood, more ice cream brands will emerge which aim to replicate Halo Top’s combination of flavour, texture and treat appeal alongside a distinct nutritional health benefit.

Strong flavours for snacking

When it comes to snacking, this summer will see strong flavours and textures that are specifically designed to go with alcohol that, no doubt, will be popular during events such as the FIFA World Cup and barbecues. Indeed, for many consumers, flavour seems to be among the most important important factor when choosing a snack, far more prominent than health concerns. Four in 10 (38%) urban Chinese snackers would buy a new salty snack if it offers a unique flavour, 50% of Brazilian snackers agree that unusual/exotic flavours of salty snacks are appealing and 36% of US consumers say they would buy more crisps if there are new flavours to try.

Snack brand launches that aim to satisfy with intense flavour and texture include the Pringles Loud range, launched in 2017 in the US, and the Walkers Max Strong range, launched in the UK in early 2018. (The term ‘loud’ is intended to convey the bold texture and flavours of the Pringles and the word ’strong’ alludes to the ridged texture or intense spicy flavours of the Walkers range.) These strong textures and flavours hold up particularly well with beer and other alcohol.

In fact Walkers UK’s Max Strong was developed with ‘flavour experts to perfectly match Walkers Max Strong with different types of beer’. With a ‘Perfect with beer’ strapline emblazoned on the front of pack, the message couldn’t be clearer about the ideal eating occasion for these crisps. Bold and intense crisps, then, will be the perfect match for any World Cup viewing party this summer.

Low sugar for soft drinks

Amid government regulations such as the UK sugar tax, consumers are getting wary of old favourites. For example, 76% of Australian adults agree that food and drink companies should make it easier to understand how much sugar is in their products and 75% of German consumers of carbonated soft drinks (CSDs) agree that manufacturers should do more to reduce the sugar in their products.

Brands are stepping up to fill this need in some unexpected ways. A recent trend, which is bringing naturalness and flavour to the soft drink market, presenting alternatives to sugar and artificial ingredients, are boldly flavoured sparkling waters. A prominent example of this is LaCroix, which has become a sensation in the US over the last few years for its naturally and creatively flavoured sparkling water, using natural essential oils from fruit to deliver a natural flavour without sugar or sweeteners.

This desire for unsweetened options is driving this trend toward more and more creative sparkling waters, along with consumer demand for more exotic flavours and unusual ingredients. Products such as spirulina-flavoured, naturally blue, sparkling water are being launched across Europe and sparkling water infused with green coffee extract, caffeine from coffee cherries and coconut juice have entered the market in Japan. So this summer, expect to see less lemonade and more truly original mineral waters with natural flavours far beyond lemon or cucumber.


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