Food and Drinks Trends for 2018

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J Walter Thompson’s Innovation Group unveiled its fourth annual Future 100 report flagging the changes and new opportunities in food and drink for 2018. Consumers are going to become even more demanding of food and drink. Pandan, purple sweet potato and sherry are the new ‘it’ food and drinks that will appear on menus next year; vegan food will become the ‘new normal’ instead of a niche and consumers will increasingly expect brands to deliver products that don’t just taste good, but deliver a feel-good factor too.

Three Hot Ingredients: Pandan, Purple Sweet Potato, Sherry
Another year, another spate of ‘it’ ingredients in the constantly evolving world of food trends. What’s next up? Food trends are evolving faster than ever, propelled by a constant desire for newness, novelty and visually striking attributes for Instagram. Consumers en masse are also becoming more adventurous, as food culture becomes a primary lifestyle focus and weekend recreation. Nigella Lawson has already identified Pandan leaves as an ingredient to watch – it imparts a floral sweet herby grassy flavour to rice, chicken (the leaves are wrapped around pieces of marinated chicken, then they are deep-fried), cakes and desserts (our photo above shows the famous Indonesian cake called Lapis Layer Cake flavoured with pandan). Purple Sweet Potatoes are on the list for 2018 and sherry is going to make a come-back (Frasier and Niles Crane were very much ahead of the curve on this one).

New Basics
Organic, natural, and sustainable attributes are increasingly becoming an entry-level expectation for consumers, rather than a luxury — and retailers are competing to offer these at knock-down prices. When it comes to food, drink and personal care consumers are prioritising items that are natural and values such as organic and non-GMO are becoming the ‘new normal’ rather than premium.

Vertical farms, a popular experiment in urban agriculture, may finally be poised for a mainstream breakthrough. The rise in urban farming illustrates that the demand for fresh produce shows no signs of lagging. The global population is expected to balloon to over 9.5 billion by 2050, according to the United Nations, and eco-conscious consumers are eager to reduce their footprints—without sacrificing their health.

Food Tech
Silicon Valley is not only re-imagining food but finally making its high-tech spin on nutrition accessible. Silicon Valley food startups are finally being taken seriously, which could lead them to reshape the wider food and drink market.

Vegan food is crossing into the mainstream as never before, popping up on the menus of popular restaurants and even fast-food chains. As consumers begin to realise the effects of meat on their health, as well its carbon and water footprints, they are adapting their diets and seeking plant-based alternatives. Vegan food is becoming standard as consumers in urban areas expect a vegan option on the menu. In many cases vegan food is no longer being marketed as vegan; it’s targeting all health-conscious and eco-friendly consumers.

Mood Food
As consumers begin to appreciate the effect of diet on mood, food and drink brands are catching up and updating their products and services to look beyond physical fuel. Consumers are starting to appreciate the impact that food can have on their mood and mental health. They will increasingly expect brands to deliver products that don’t just taste good, but deliver a feel-good factor too.

Algorithm food design

Pastry chefs like Dinara Kasko, formerly an architect, 
is bringing food design squarely into the 21st century. Though algorithms have revolutionized art and sculpture design, they have yet to reach the world of food and drink. In the era of Instagram, expect that to change, as creatives bring in new technology to create ever more unique shapes.

Trendy Teetotalism
Today’s wellness-focused consumers are turning their backs on alcohol but still looking for a premium non-alcoholic experience. The global alcohol market saw a sluggish 2016, including the first decline in consumption in the United States since 2011, according to IWSR figures. By comparison, the global non-alcoholic beverage market is projected to reach $1.6 trillion by 2025, up from just over $967 billion in 2016, according to a 2017 report from Grand View Research. In the future, look for more elevated experiences geared specifically towards non-alcoholic drinkers.

A.I. Food
Artificial intelligence (A.I.) points to a future of effortless transparency when it comes to the food on our plate. In a connected world obsessed with food photography, image recognition may well be the easiest route to calorie counting. A.I. will become commonplace in the food and drink industry, enabling consumers to simply point their phones and discover all the facts about their food.

Three Experiential Dining Trends: Extreme Immersion, Foodie Theme Parks, Cannabis Fine Dining
– Food and drink experiences are becoming a key source of entertainment for consumers, and are being viewed as a cultural experience as much as a form of socialising. Consumers en masse today consider themselves foodies. Food and drink are now being seen through the lens of experience culture, as a shared cultural experience and an intellectual pursuit all in one—or, failing that, another neat thing to share on Instagram.

 From a report authored by Lucie Greene, Director of JWT Innovation (www.jwtintelligence.com). You can download the full report here.

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