A sneak peek of what’s about to blow up on the food & drink scene.
Has food & drink ever been bigger, better, cooler, more artisanal, more crafted, gluten free, vegan, refined sugar free, full of ancient grains – well you get the point – than now?
Driven by the ever-so-easily-bored millennials, food & drink trends are more sophisticated than ever and it’s an exciting time to be a branding agency specialising in this sector.
Keeping our eyes peeled for the next ancient grain, here are our predictions for 2017.
In 2016 1 in 6 Brits set out on the challenge of Dry January, and 2017 was predicted to attract even more brave souls swearing off alcohol for a month.
The general ‘sobriety’ trend is growing with the arrival of ‘virgin’ bars, sober pre-work raves, mindful clubbing & juice bar crawls, heavily attended by millennials in search of more meaningful interactions.
The oh-so-millennial search for authenticity means that swapping a pint for a luminously coloured soda isn’t going to cut it. Think sexy, adult, alcohol-free drinks like Seedlip Spice 94 inspired by the botanical notes of gin, or German craft soda Wostok featuring flavours such as tarragon and ginger or pine needle.
Gut health has been identified as a major factor influencing our overall wellbeing and so foods promoting this have been gaining mainstream interest.
Naturally probiotic foods such as sauerkraut, kimchi or lacto-fermented gherkins are coming out of foodie exile, whilst anti-inflammatory foods such as turmeric or bone broth are predicted to continue to grow in popularity.
So expect to see the gut health claim being used more often, and if wheat & refined sugars didn’t have a bad enough rep already, their negative link to gut health will play an important role in how we market food in 2017.
The Water plus trend isn’t new of course, with coconut and birch water now almost mainstream, but 2017 will bring us new additions such as omega 3 water, watermelon water (there must be something in it if Beyonce is investing, right?) or smoked water. The last one is likely to remain a niche ingredient mainly used for creating quirky cocktails, as it blends well with oaky notes of whiskey and makes a perfect addition to classic Bloody Marry.
As we pay more attention to the sometimes suspect health claims of the food & drink we consume, the Water + category will grow to accommodate the latest in proven wellness benefits, with drinks such as water kefir and kombucha gaining in popularity.
Plant-based diets have been getting an insane amount of attention and have well and truly settled into the mainstream. Recently, Sainsubury announced its plans to rearrange its aisles to encourage shoppers to eat less meat.
Riding the wave of popularity the new veggie diet is all about plant based versions of comfort food. Think vegan butchers, tofu steaks and all things rich, indulgent & unapologetic. For example, Sgaia’s meat range (vegan meat made out of wheat and soy protein with a blend of herbs and spices) which celebrates culinary traditions with modern alternatives to traditional meat products such as pastrami and späck. This trend is all about celebrating plant food and moving away from ‘fake’ sausages with a long list of unpronounceable ingredients towards proud vegan food made out of real ingredients.
The growing veggie trend also means a shift in food claims, which will be more focused around common anxieties associated with not eating meat and diary. And so we’ll be turning to ‘new’ sources of calcium such as teff or amaranth or protein rich plant products like hemp seeds.
The clean living trend saw a whopping surge in healthy snacks – mainly recipe and shape variations of dried fruit and nut bars and a load of coconut, dates & cashews.
But I think 2017 will see a rise of snacking counter culture; savoury, protein rich, not necessarily veggie, but still healthy. Like paleo-inspired Fori meat bars, made with grass-fed, free-range British meat and a mix of herbs & spices.
But with sustainability considerations playing an increasing role, alternative sources of protein will be gaining popularity. Whilst insect snack pots might remain a niche product (let’s face it, probably for decades), cricket-flour protein bars are likely to gain acceptance more easily.
As well as the trends mentioned above (or maybe as part of them), 2017 will see a surge in treating food and drink as extension of our personalities. Just as we have always expressed our identity through clothes we wear and possessions we own, food becomes another important platform of self-expression. It’s an opportunity for consumers and companies to communicate powerful messages about their values, social status or creativity. Both from a sociological and branding point of view, it is a fascinating phenomenon and one which deserves a separate blog post…(watch this space).