A new report from Mintel shines a light on some of this summer’s hottest trends in food and drink. From the grill to the cooler, consumers are looking for less sugar, more veggies, and bursts of flavor. Here’s what the report found.

The main event

The new barbeque

Move over, hamburgers. This summer, folks are making room on the grill for vegetarian and vegan options on the barbeque. And luckily for vegetarians and flexitarians alike, food manufacturers are branching out beyond the tired frozen veggie burger. Producers are finding success using flavor and nutrient-packed ingredients like jackfruit, black beans, and quinoa in meat substitutes.

Meat and its veggie-friendly counterparts sharing the grill likely won’t be a trend limited to this summer. In the U.S., 33% of all consumers (and 37% of Millennials) plan to buy more plant-based foods this year.

Snack time

Screaming for ice cream

Before Halo Top ice cream hit grocery store freezers, “healthy” and “ice cream” weren’t usually found in the same sentence. But since the delicious treat aimed at the health-conscious crowd found huge success in the United States, manufacturers around the globe are following suit.

Mintel’s report shows that Europeans overwhelmingly support clear calorie labeling on the packaging, a strategy that Halo Top popularized. As such, ice cream manufacturers will have to create labels conveying how their products can fit into a healthy, balanced diet while still being a treat.

Salty snack flavor experimentation

According to Mintel’s report, salty snacks are the one category that breaks the health-conscious trend. Consumers are seeking strong, unique-flavored snacks to go with their brews and barbecues.  

Data shows that Americans are experiencing salty snack flavor fatigue — 36% of U.S. consumers would buy more chips if there were new flavors to try. Chinese snackers (38%) also said they’d buy a new salty snack if it was offered in a unique flavor, and half of Brazilian snackers said that unusual flavors of salty snacks are appealing.

Drink up

See ya, sugar

Many consumers today don’t eat or drink anything mindlessly — they want to know what they’re putting in their body. And when it comes to beverages, sugar content is a paramount concern for consumers.

Mintel’s report shows that an overwhelming percentage of consumers want brands to clarify how much sugar is in their products via labeling. Many consumers also reported that they want manufacturers to do more to reduce or eliminate sugar. To meet consumer demands, producers are experimenting with low and sugar-free beverages with great success. Take sparkling water for example — 37% of 25-34-year-old Americans have had flavored sparkling water in the last three months.

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