“The events of 2020 caused a fundamental reset in human behavior,” according to Mintel’s new report, 2021 Global Food and Drink Trends. Mintel believes consumer behavioral shifts related to wellbeing, value, and identity will affect how food, drink, and foodservice brands formulate, package, market, and more in the years to come. To help companies move forward in the coming 12 months, the report identifies three key trends that offer opportunities. 

Feed the mind

The COVID-19 pandemic has led consumers to recognize wellbeing is a vital concern. As the pandemic fades, people will become more serious about decreasing the health risks connected to unhealthy eating. In the coming years, consumers will look for more products and services that have mental and emotional health benefits, including more functional food and drink that claim to help them focus, relax, and relieve or prevent emotional health concerns.

Mintel also notes people are becoming less interested in diet rules. Instead, consumers are more likely to adopt mindful or intuitive eating, paying more attention to what they consume and how it makes them feel.

Mintel sees three key opportunities for companies:

  1. Offer moments of comfort and support: Product rituals and formulations that complement stress relief activities can offer stressed consumers escape, peace, and other emotional connections. Look at expanding functional food and drink that offer mental and emotional health benefits. 
  2. Enhance experiences and encourage healthy eating: Multisensory and functional formulations can complement or enrich stress relief activities. Examples include energizing snacks to eat during activity or calming drinks for meditation. 
  3. Provide proof and sync with technology: Consumers will come to expect proof that mental and emotional health formulations will work as advertised. Companies can share proof from health experts or results from scientific research. 

Quality redefined

“When it comes to value, pandemic-shocked consumers are seeking a return to what is essential,” states Mintel. “Consumers are now focused on minimal consumption and getting the best returns from their purchases.” 

Some things to expect: Consumers will look for value-based upscale meals for special home entertainment occasions. As COVID-19 restrictions fall away, consumers will become busier and expect food, drink, and foodservice to offer time-saving, hygienic, and adventurous convenience. As consumers focus more on getting the best value for their money, brands will become more transparent about prices and provide details about the ingredients, processes, and people reflected in a product’s price.

Mintel sees these key opportunities for companies:

  1. Find new advantages in home-based lifestyles: Help consumers shake up home routines with budget-friendly inspiration and adventurous flavors. Look for solutions to help offset indulgence with health while meeting both time-savings and creativity needs. 
  2. Revive and reinvigorate old priorities: As markets recover, consumers will demand responsible business practices, stores that incorporate lessons from the pandemic, and continuing safety and hygiene practices at retail and foodservice. 
  3. Invest in a seamless and equitable future: Expand seamless online and offline retail and transparent reporting of product prices. Fuel equitable access to healthy food by expanding the global availability of affordable, sustainable nutrition and investing in high-tech agriculture. 

United by food

“Consumers’ understanding of the community has been strengthened by COVID-19,” states Mintel. Consumers will seek socialization and camaraderie by organizing in like-minded communities.

Mintel sees these key opportunities for companies:

  1. Celebrate individuals’ unique passions: Support and connect with people using food and drink to express facets of their personalities and to find new hobbies. 
  2. Create communities around common interests: Create brand fan communities that give consumers new ways to socialize and meet new people. Both online and in person, companies can connect individual consumers around their passions and create forums for meaningful, engaged interactions. 
  3. Mobilize consumers to do good: Act as a facilitator to help consumers become part of the change they want to see in the world. Use resources and reach to organize consumers to act in local and global communities.

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