Buckle up, because it’s that time of the year again, and over the coming months we are in for a raft of predictions on the latest trends set to impact our lives, as we move into a new year.

Media outlets love futuregazing, and while a portion of the ‘next big thing’ news should be taken with a pinch of salt, trend prediction is an incredibly valuable tool for brands and marketeers.

Mintel, the globally leading market intelligence agency, has recently released its predictions for five global food & drink trends for 2018, and here’s our take on each, along with tips on how can brands capitalise on them:


Mintel predicts that 2018 will see consumer interrogation of the origin of the food they buy deepen and expand much further into the mass market.

What we say…

Driven by consumer distrust in food labelling, this trend represents a notable shift from consumers being interested (we all know that interest in ingredient provenance has been growing over the last decade) to consumers requiring complete, honest and 100% transparent information about food products.

This is something that many smart food businesses have been working on for a while.

Transparency equals trust, advocacy and, ultimately, loyalty. So making key information, such as nutritional values and sourcing info, easy-to-read and understand on pack and at point of sale is a priority.

Savvy marketeers will embrace the opportunity to build these fundamentals into their brand storytelling, across all communications. Consider ways to reach and engage your audience visually, for example an infographic or animation to showcase ingredient provenance.

2018 food & drink trends - Wild West Comms


Researchers at Mintel highlight how modern life, with its constant connectivity and pervasive distrust and contention in politics and the media, is prompting consumers to focus on ‘self-care’. They suggest that into 2018 and beyond, we will see more consumers seeking out food and drink products that offer specific nutrition, physical or emotional benefits to enhance their lives and wellbeing.

What we say…

Globally, consumers are being bombarded with often mixed messages about what they should and shouldn’t be eating, so perhaps this trend is about consumers taking back an element of power over their own diet. We’re seeing this personalisation of our lifestyles happening in, for example, the rise and rise of flexitarianism, in which people choose to reduce their meat intake, without the need to box themselves into becoming ‘vegetarian’ or ‘vegan’.

What’s interesting here is that the focus is on the positive – consumers are increasingly looking for ingredients that add value, often with specific health properties, like protein, but also emotional benefits, such as stress relief.

Again, this trend represents an obvious marketing opportunity, and many brands are already refreshing their product labels and updating campaign messaging to emphasise the positive functions of their product lines. As with clean labelling, this is about making it easy for the consumer to make their own decision, but it’s also about inspiring them with ideas for ways the product might support them at different times, which is where marketing and PR teams can step in.


In recent years, Mintel points out, food manufacturers have capitalised on the growing need for food to appeal to more than just our sense of taste. Largely driven by social media, we now look for food that not only tastes, but looks amazing (think freakshakes and rainbow cakes). Texture, Mintel’s researchers predict, will be the next focus, providing consumers with ‘interactive and documentation-worthy experiences’.

What we say…

Tapping into this trend isn’t just about NPD or reformulation. This is all about experience, and savvy marketeers can surprise and delight the consumer, creating opportunities to play and have fun with what we eat and drink. Social media is a brilliant tool for this kind of play; consider brand partnerships, surprising recipe content and clever pairing ideas.


Another key trend highlighted by Mintel relates to the evolution of online grocery shopping, driven by consumer demand for time and money-saving opportunities, and enabled by a host of new technologies and channels. Mintel predicts that the expansion of online shopping will lead to a more personalised shopping experience, with recommendations, promotions and product innovations increasingly based on individual consumer behaviours.

What we say…

We all know that smart marketing is driven by smart insight, and so it goes without saying that the more data we have to work with, the greater the opportunity to build strategies that hit the mark. But, as the report points out, there is a danger that such developments could get in the way of brand discovery and could affect loyalty, if practicalities, such as convenience and cost, are prioritised over brand.

Food & Drinks Trends - Wild West Comms


The final trend tipped to make an impact in 2018 is a particularly interesting one; that scientifically engineered food will disrupt the traditional food production chain. While Mintel acknowledges that mainstream availability of lab-grown meat or animal-free dairy is still some years away, researchers point to investments made by the likes of General Mills, Unilever and billionaire Bill Gates, which are hastening the pace of development.

What we say…

Mintel suggests that the initial market opportunity is of consumers who are attracted to scientifically developed products for ethical and/or environmental reasons. How the market will develop remains to be seen but in the meantime, brands can leverage consumer interest in ethical and sustainable production practices, ensuring that environmental and social credentials are always part of the brand conversation.

There we have it. 5 trends to watch out for, and hopefully a little food for thought for companies, big and small, established and new to market.


Georgie Upton - Divisional Director at Wild West Comms

Words: Georgie Upton

Director at Wild West Comms