Australians are increasingly seeking to make a difference by buying local

In response to the adversity of 2020, bushfires, floods, a pandemic, and economic downturn, Australians are seeking to do their bit at the grocery store. A recent study by Mintel, the experts in what consumers want and why, shows Australians’ desire to buy locally grown food is gaining momentum. According to Mintel’s Megan Stanton, senior analyst, Purchase Intelligence, “In July of 2019 Forty four percent of consumers said they try to buy locally grown food, this rose to forty eight percent after the December 2019 bushfires and rose again to fifty two percent during the COVID-19 crisis.”
There are many reasons for this marked shift in attitudes. Many consumers believe Australian products deliver on taste, quality and trustworthiness, and are seen as better value than imported products, however it depends on the food or drink category as well. “In categories where safety is an issue most respondents said they would buy a product locally made in Australia over a less expensive imported product.
For instance, frozen fruit grown and packaged in Australia significantly outperformed overseas products when it came to both instant reaction and purchase intent. Fifty-four percent of respondents were more likely to buy the Australian product despite its higher price tag.”
Safety, however, wasn’t the only reason respondents gave for choosing Australian made over imported brands. They also believe Australian products taste better and see the value in providing more opportunities to the local economy by supporting Australian jobs and farmers.
Transparency was an important factor for respondents. Many respondents to the Mintel survey expressed dismay that products they believe should be made in Australia, especially those sold under supermarket own-brand labels, are actually imported from as far away as Europe and the Middle East.
These findings align with the Mintel Trend Locavore which highlights the seismic shift in why, where and how we consume food and the consumer desire for transparency from companies.
“They want to know who makes their products and how. They want to feel as though they are somehow helping their community by buying locally produced goods,” said Stanton.

Is plant-based meat a real new opportunity or is it only marketing hype?

With COVID-19 pandemic hit the world relentlessly, people’s lives around the world have been changed fundamentally, including eating habits. This pandemic, once again, reminded people about the relationship between nature and their eating habits. We have seen many startups emerging that produce plant-based or lab meat alternatives around the world, especially in Asia Pacific. Is this plant-based meat alternative a real market trend or is it only a marketing hype used by brands to attract more customers?

Well at least consumers in Asia are shifting towards plant-based diets, driven by health and environmental concerns. As it originated in western market, a lot of the current plant-based meat in China is delivered through western format, such as burgers, pizza and pasta. However, in order to introduce these new products to broader Chinese consumers, plant-based meat products are improving their taste, texture and format in order to meet the palate of Chinese consumers.

According to Mintel research <Upgrade c-store meals with plant-based meat>, 75 per cent of respondents in China think that plant-based meat is a trend, 36 per cent of Thai consumers eat protein substitutes because of health concerns, compared to 10% who do so for religious and cultural reasons. 49 per cent of South Koreans agree that plant-based foods are better for the environment than meat and dairy products.

In Australia, consumer’s attitude towards meat has changed too after the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak. Mintel’s newly launched consumer data tracker tool Mintel Global Consumers shows that 38 per cent of Australia people agree that Covid-19 pandemic proves that humans need to eat fewer animals, 17 per cent of Australia people thinking of eat fewer animal products (eg, dairy or meat) after Covid-19 pandemic and 34% of Australia people limit their meat intake most or all the time.

Daisy Li, Associate Food and Drink Director, Mintel, says that, “ Plant-based meat as an ingredient-led innovation could have revolutionary impact on people and the food industry. Although international and domestic players are racing their launch in Chinese market. However, Chinese consumers still need some time to be convinced of its safety and benefits before they could fully embrace it into their diet.”

Chinese consumers show an increasing interest in plants in recent years, which is quite consistent with the growing global plant-based trend. However, the distinctive eating culture and consumer perceptions in China has made it very different from western market. Although plant ingredients, such as vegetables, fruit, grain and nuts are well received in the Chinese market in recent years, the veganism trend has not taken off in the China market. Consumers still perceive animal protein as a critical part of their daily diet, providing essential nutrition. Therefore Chinese consumers are willing to increase their plant intake, while they also seek high quality animal protein at the same time. The plant-based meat players have to be mindful of the situation and come up with a strategy that fit with the China market.

As in the market of traditional soy-based meat analogue existed for thousands of years, Chinese consumers may easily associate current plant-based meat offerings with the traditional one, which heavily rely on a complicated cooking process as well as flavor additive to mimic the taste of meat.However, influenced by their existing perceptions of soy-based meat, Chinese consumers are not convinced with the fact that the novel plant-based meat is superior than traditional one in terms of taste and nutrition.Plant-based meat players could highlight its difference in terms of nutrition, taste and manufacture process and establish a new or superior category image.

Meanwhile, in APAC region, we also find that plant-based meat producers and convenience stores are the new partners-in-arms. Hong Kong-based plant-based meat producer Right Treat, the maker of plant-based pork analogue Omnipork, and South Korea’s Zikooin (Unlimeat) have started partnering with convenience chains to promote the application of plant-based meat in convenience store ready meals.

FamilyMart Taiwan made the headlines by announcing the launch of Omnipork instant meal cups under FamilyMart’s own brand in early 2020. FamilyMart has previously launched plant-based tomato spaghetti and plant-based cheeseburgers. In South Korea, 7-Eleven debuted plant-based burgers, dumplings and Korean sushi rolls in 2020. The dumplings contain Zikooin’s Unlimeat.

The collaboration between plant-based meat producers and convenience stores is set to open up new opportunities for plant-based meat to reach more consumers.

Plant-based meat can inject a sense of excitement into convenience store ready meals. Convenience store ready meals made from plant-based meat that mimic the texture of real meat are a novelty to consumers in APAC since plant-based meat products are still not widely available. Adding plant-based meals can help to drive footfall. In China, 58% of consumers choose a particular convenience store due to the variety of products available.

Catering to flexitarians, vegans and vegetarians alike, plant-based meat can also appeal to Asian consumers who are constantly looking for new foods/flavours to try; 41% of Vietnamese and 47% of Malaysian consumers* say they look for new foods/flavours to try all or most of the time.

Convenience stores can add a new twist to their existing ready meals by substituting them with plant-based meat. This could potentially create a buzz among consumers, mirroring the hype foodservice enjoyed when plant-based meat menus were launched.

Mintel to work with INSEAD professor for academic research

Mintel has announced that it has linked up with Professor Pierre Chandon from world famous business school INSEAD to provide data support with Mintel Global New Products Database (GNPD) for Professor Chandon’s academic research work in the food and drink marketing innovation area.

Professor Pierre Chandon is the L’Oréal chaired professor of marketing, innovation and creativity at INSEAD in France, and the Director of the INSEAD-Sorbonne University Behavioural Lab. He studies innovative marketing solutions to better align business growth with consumer health and wellbeing.

“The Partnership with Mintel will definitely help make my academic research be more diverse in terms of data source and data analysis,” said Chandon. “My research work covers many countries and regions trying to find insights into different issues. Mintel is a global company with local business operation and expertise and provides unique high-quality, detailed product data on new products that will be useful for my academic research. I am confident that this partnership with Mintel will bring unique data and insights into the academic research cycle.”

As a leading marketing intelligence firm headquartered in London, Mintel’s analysis of consumers, markets, new products and competitive landscapes provides a unique perspective on global and local economies. Since 1972, Mintel’s predictive analytics and expert recommendations have enabled thousands of clients to make better business decisions faster.

“We’re delighted to be in partnership with Professor Chandon. His research has a major academic influence and is of great benefit for food and drink brands to further innovate, grow their businesses and better meet market needs, ” says Matthew Nelson, General Manager of Mintel APAC. “Our access to a global network of field associates helps Mintel GNPD combine local and global expertise in 86 markets, our wealth of experienced global in-house analysts also provide the expertise to help brands put the data into real business contexts

How important is “Australian-Made” in food and drink? 

In the face of a looming recession, questions about price and value are at the forefront of consumers’ concerns. At the same time consumers are more aware of where their food comes from, and there is a growing desire to support local companies. How can brands capitalise on these  consumer sentiments?

Mintel’s Purchase Intelligence tool tells you what new products Australian consumers want to buy and why. Join us as our Senior Food and Drink Analyst, Megan Stanton delves into the topic of ‘Australian-made’ and how consumers judge this claim.

We will discuss

  • Which brands are doing “Australian made” well?
  • Which consumers are most interested in Australian made products?
  • Is the  per cent of Australian made ingredients important to consumers?
  • Will consumers pay for the benefit of ‘Australian-made’?

Click here and register now!

COVID-19: a catalyst for China and Southeast Asia foodservice retail push

COVID-19 has negatively impacted restaurant revenue. A webinar to be held by food intelligence specialist Mintel, will look at the opportunities for Chinese and Southeast Asian foodservice players to diversify their business model from take-out and dine-in to include selling packaged ready-to-cook and ready-to-heat foods.

In this webinar, Mintel’s Food and Drinks analysts will share their expertise around three areas that are key for brands:

  • The uncertainty of future calls for change

  • Explore the opportunity of in-home consumption

  • E-commerce is the next frontier for foodservice

Speakers include:

Heng Hong Tan, APAC Food and Drink Analyst
As an APAC Food and Drink analyst, Heng Hong has over 10 years of experience identifying emerging food and drink trends. He is always on the lookout for the latest food and drink products in his frequent travels in the region.

Daisy Li, F&D Associate Director, China
Daisy is an Associate Director with the Mintel Food & Drink team, specialising in the China market. She monitors and reports on the latest innovation and trends impacting the Chinese food and drink market.

To register for the event, click here.

A year of innovation in vitamin, mineral, and supplements, APAC 2020

Mintel’s latest report reveals innovation opportunities in vitamins, minerals and supplements. Amid COVID-19 fears, VMS NPD will focus more on immune support and stress relief. Also expect a renewed focus on naturalness and safety.

Read more for actionable insights and key opportunities for your brand, including:

  • Highlighting immune support benefits
  • Looking beyond immune support when it comes to new product development
  • Promoting food-based, natural and eco themes

Click here for more information.

Coles ditches print catalogues in favour of digital

As Australians increasingly look online for their daily shopping inspiration, Coles is launching coles&co, a new experience that will offer specials alongside exclusive content about new products, tips and recipes.

a“With COVID-19, we’ve really seen a shift to online shopping in the last few months, as lots of our customers try our contactless home delivery and Click&Collect services for the first time. We’ve also seen an increase of more than 50 per cent in readership for our digital catalogue since March,” said Coles Group CEO Steven Cain. “We are living at a time of unprecedented societal change, including a surge in the diversity of consumer tastes and dietary needs.

“As customers add more fresh food to their diet they’re shopping more often, and their appetite for immediacy and digital information means a weekly,one-size-fits-all,catalogue in their letterbox is no longer as relevant for them as it once was.

The company will be using its digital capabilities to replace it with something more personalised. As more new features are added, this could include recipes that change daily rather than weekly, as well as tailored content on food and drink trends.

“We will be investing more in digital content and capability for customers and suppliers, as well as better value by lowering the cost of breakfast, lunch and dinner, and improving our sustainability by reducing our reliance on paper.”

coles&co features ‘shoppable’ specials, allowing customers to do their shopping from the screen. They tap on a product to add it to their basket, and then check out via Coles’ online shopping services – or save it as a shopping list to take with you when shopping instore.

Coles chefs and other contributors, including Curtis Stone, will provide new content everyday, including tips and tricks on how to make the most of in-season fruit and veggies, and recipes for quick, simple and healthy meals to help customers eat better while saving money.

From Thursday, Customers can access coles&coat coles.com.au, where they can also sign up to unlock new exclusive content and previews of weekly specials, including many at half price. With the shift in customer preference towards digital communications, from 9 September 2020Coles will no longer deliver printed catalogues to letterboxes.

“Since 2000, we have delivered around 200 billion pages of weekly catalogues to letterboxes across Australia,” = Cain said.

Cain said ceasing the delivery of printed catalogues would save over 10,000 tonnes of paper every year – the equivalent of an estimated 80,000 trees.

“We’re committed to being Australia’s most sustainable supermarket and reducing our reliance on paper by prioritising digital channels like coles&co is a  step towards that goal,” Cain said.

A reduced volume of printed weekly catalogues will continue to be available in store.

Global plant-based ice cream new product development doubles in five years

Consumers around the world are going wild for plant-based innovation and ice cream is no exception. According to the latest research from Mintel Global New Product Database (GNPD), vegan ice cream accounts for an increasing proportion of global ice cream launches, making up 7 per cent of all launches in the last 12 months (2019/20), more than double the 3 per cent five years ago (2015/16).

Within the sector, the focus on the textural qualities of plant-based ice cream is increasing; vegan ice creams with a chunky texture such as nuts, cookie pieces, toffee pieces and cookie dough chunks have surged from 2 per cent to 13 per cent of launches over the last four years (2016/17-2019/20). Adapting to this trend is likely to appeal to the 73 per cent of UK ice cream consumers who said that they like ice cream with different textures (eg. crunchy, hard).

Chocolate (accounting for 26 per cent of innovation over the last 12 months), vanilla (11 per cent) and coconut (9 per cent) still remain the most popular in terms of plant-based flavour innovation.

This comes as 12 per cent of UK adults agree that the coronavirus outbreak has made a vegan diet more appealing, almost doubling among under-25s (23 per cent).

“The recent buzz around veganism has made its mark on the ice cream category. Interest in vegan ice cream isn’t restricted to those following a vegan diet,” said Kate Vlietstra, Mintel global food and drink analyst. “Learning from their dairy counterparts, plant-based ice creams are moving beyond the basic flavours to offer indulgent options. Texture is playing a prominent part in vegan new product development (NPD) with chunkier varieties on offer. Brands are demonstrating that vegan offerings can be premium with an array of luxury flavour combinations and packaging.

“The makeup of plant-based ice cream will evolve, incorporating new ingredients from the world of plant milk such as quinoa and other seeds. Oats are expected to feature in more dairy-free ice creams, following on from the popularity of oats in plant-based drinks.”

Big in Japan: Japan scoops up number one position for ice cream NPD
From matcha to mayonnaise and seaweed to soybean, there seems no limit to Japanese ice cream innovation as Mintel reveals that Japan is now the world’s number one global ice cream innovator, commanding the highest share of ice cream launches.

Over the past five years, Japan’s ice cream innovation has gone from strength to strength. In 2015/16 Japan accounted for 7 per cent of launches globally, but since then its innovation has been coming thick and fast and Japan is now (2019/20) responsible for a cool one in ten (10 per cent) product launches, overtaking the US to become the world leader in ice cream innovation. Meanwhile, the US now (2019/20) accounts for 9 per cent of new products launched, slipping back from its number one position.

With a 6 per cent share of global ice cream innovation, Germany is Europe’s number one ice cream innovator and third in terms of global innovation, meanwhile the UK has a 4% share.

“A popular sweet treat among Japanese consumers, ice cream innovation in Japan has surged in recent years following a push to drive year-round consumption,”  Vlietstra. “Quirky flavours and exciting formats are putting Japanese ice cream at the forefront of food innovation, while providing ample inspiration for ice cream launches outside of Japan. The growing popularity of Japanese cuisine paves the way for ice cream brands to utilise traditional Japanese flavours such as hojicha and yuzu. Quirky combinations, unique flavours and unusual ice cream cones are all well-positioned to appeal to consumers globally.

“The postponed Tokyo 2020 Olympics, now due to take place in Summer 2021, offer a global platform on which Japanese-inspired food and drink can shine. Ice cream brands tapping into Japanese flavours are likely to fare well, particularly during the hot summer months.”

High added protein potential
Protein has gained importance with consumers; over the last five years, food and drink launches featuring high/added protein claims have doubled from 2 per cent to 4 per cent of total food and drink. Meanwhile, high/added protein ice cream claims have increased from under 1 per cent of ice creams to over 2 per cent in the last four years (2016/17 – 2019/20). While relatively small in number, the opportunity for ice cream with added protein is highlighted by the fact that around one in six British (16 per cent) consumers would eat more ice cream if it had added protein.

“Ice cream is a treat food; a smaller amount of protein will satisfy the consumer demand for healthier options while allowing brands to explore different protein options. Plant protein from legumes, grain and seeds can offer a high-protein alternative to dairy protein. With sustainability ever the topic of discussion, the ice cream category will need to demonstrate its ethical credentials to continue to win flavour with consumers, and plant proteins can appeal due to their lower carbon footprint than dairy proteins,” said Vlietstra.

Algae as a future superfood

Consumer’s recent interest in “better for me, better for the planet” food and drink should continue to drive the demand for plant proteins. Algae is one of the most promising foods for the future: easy to cultivate, offering an abundance of protein and other nutrients, whilst maintaining biodiversity.

According to Mintel Global New Products Database (GNPD), although algae (carrageenan and agar) has been widely used in edible categories as a thickener, gelling or bulking agent, there has been an increase in using algae-based ingredients as micronutrient, protein and omega fat in recent years.

The increased awareness of algae’s health benefits is the main driver of algae’s rising popularity in food and drink. Mintel finds that 36% of US consumers are either currently eating algae as a protein source on a regular basis or are interested in trying it. The presence of large quantity of essential amino acids makes algal protein superior to many other plant proteins, which may disrupt the plant-based protein market and give rise to algal protein as a vegan, gluten-free, soy-free, sustainable and non-GMO protein source.

Superfood juice
Vivalicious Introjuice Superfood Vitalise Juice is a blend of fruits (apple, orange, lemon, banana and passionfruit) and spirulina, free of gluten and dairy, and has no added sugar or preservatives(Australia).

Protein rich, low cholesterol porridge
Lima Gluten-Free Oats Flakes with Matcha and Spirulina is rich in fibres and protein, and made without added sugars (Netherlands).

Concern over limited nutritional resources and demand for sustainability also contribute to algae’s rising popularity as algae require minimal resources for growth.

Go blue to reduce fatigue
Innocent Bolt from the Blue Juice is a blend of fruit juices(guava,lime and apple), coconut water, and 0.8% blue spirulina extract that gives blue colour to the drink and claims health benefits ( reducing tiredness and fatigue) (Ireland).

Natural clean food
Wholey Ocean Bowl Premium Smoothie Mix gets its blue colour from the superfood algae spirulina, is free from artificial colour, suitable for vegans and those allergic to gluten (Germany).

In addition to being a nutritional and sustainable ingredient, algae’s umami flavor, salty taste and pigments present in algae provide an opportunity for use as a flavouring agent, salt substitute and natural food colour. Mintel data shows that 35% of US consumers agree that an artificial flavour-free food claim is important to them and 31% an artificial colour-free food claim. This leaves the opportunity for continuous research on algal ingredients as they can deliver visual and sensory characteristics while maintaining clean labels.

And, recent patent development focuses on techniques to remove the unacceptable fishy odour and colour of algal protein to increase its application in protein shakes and other food and drink item

Are you ready for your market’s reboot?

The pandemic has transformed consumer behaviour. Now more than ever, brands need Mintel experts to tell them: what consumers want and why. Watch to see how we can help:

To find out more, click here.

Changes in consumer behaviour surrounding protein and produce

New research from Mintel, the experts in what consumers want and why, reveals how the global pandemic presents significant challenges and opportunities for animal proteins, meat alternatives and produce.

In this report, you will read:

– Consumers will adapt a “less but better” approach to animal proteins;
– Plants will play an important role as a source of protein
– Will there still be a place for simple luxuries and self-care in the forthcoming recession environment?
– Double down on health and wellness positioning
– Embrace a more holistic definition of sustainability

For the report, click here.

Trends shaping Australian prepared meals

Today, consumers are discovering new ways to nudge themselves towards better habits and are taking a more holistic approach to their wellbeing. However, consumers don’t want to compromise on taste and experience, and food and drink products including prepared meals will need to find the balance between both taste and health.

According to Mintel estimates, Australia’s prepared meals market experienced moderate growth with a 4.6 per cent compound annual growth rate (CAGR) in 2014-18, however, this is expected to slow down to 3.5 per cent CAGR over 2019-23. The biggest contributor in terms of sales value comes from chilled prepared meals with 31 per cent of the market value in 2018.

The prepared meal category has been highly competitive between both private label and branded players. More recently, foodservice/meal delivery brands such as YouFoodz and Sumo Salad (Sumo Well brand) have increased their presence in retail. Furthermore, private label chilled prepared meals have evolved to resonate with modern consumers by tapping into their changing needs and lifestyles. Mintel Global New Products Database (GNPD) indicates that private label makes up for 30 per cent of chilled prepared meals launches in the past 12 months to November 2019.

In Australia, Mintel Purchase Intelligence research shows that, even though private labels make up only for 30 per cent of chilled prepared meals, Australian consumers are more likely to buy them than branded chilled prepared meals. It further highlights that private label chilled prepared meals can rival branded chilled prepared meals as consumers perceive them to be on par in terms of excitement and tasty perception.

With Australia’s prepared meals market set to grow modestly over the next five years, there are some notable trends happening in the market.

Power to the plants
With a shift in consumer attitudes towards meat reduction and plant-based eating, brands are now embracing the plant-based meat trend and are now offering choices to consumers in the form of plant-based meat, wholesome vegetables and vegan prepared meals. Plant-based meat prepared meals are currently using similar marketing strategies whereby they leverage familiar dishes/ingredients that are traditionally made with meat.

However, with the rise of plant-based meat, there could be potential backlash with its over-processed image. According to Mintel GNPD, only
nine  per cent of prepared meal launches between November 2018 and 2019 featured a vegetarian-friendly claim, hence, meat formats made from real vegetables, such as three-bean meatballs, could have more mass appeal.

Furthermore real vegetables can also be a hero ingredient in vegan-friendly meals.

Better for you
Consumers today are looking to achieve their health goals with everyday meals, and brands in the prepared meals segment have an opportunity to help them achieve this. Mintel GNPD highlights that high/added protein claims in prepared meals have achieved mainstream status with 37 per cent of prepared meals launches featuring a high-/added protein claim in the 12 months to November 2019, increasing from 23 per cent in December 2016-November 2017. However, communication about protein remains varied. Furthermore, with only 12 per cent of prepared meals claiming high-/added fibre in the 12 months to November 2019, health claims beyond protein are gaining momentum. Brands can use a combination of different health claims such as high protein with fibre, calorie call outs or immunity to resonate with everyday consumers.

Brands also have an opportunity to enhance their health proposition by incorporating new emerging ingredients such as collagen and hemp. To help overcome the niche and unfamiliarity of these new ingredients, prepared meals can combine them with familiar and traditional ingredients, flavours or formats.

Elevated convenience through flavour and new occasions
In Australia, both private label and branded players are exploring regional Indian flavours and dishes to differentiate themselves by leveraging the momentum of Indian cuisine as it becomes mainstream. Mintel GNPD indicates that Indian-inspired prepared meals represent 11 per cent of the prepared meals category in the 12 months to November 2019.

Australia’s food, drink and culture has continually been influenced by Asia, and is reflected in the prepared meals category. From Korea to Japan, Indonesian to Vietnam, there is an opportunity to explore regional Asian ingredients and dishes to excite consumers’ lunch and dinner routines.

Prepared meals are traditionally aligned with snack, lunch and dinner occasions. However, breakfast is an untapped consumption occasion, which companies can tap into and explore both sweet and savoury. Also, sides to share in a bigger portion could complement the dinner occasion.

Trends shaping Australian prepared meals market

Today, consumers are discovering new ways to nudge themselves towards better habits and are taking a more holistic approach to their wellbeing. However, consumers don’t want to compromise on taste and experience, and food and drink products including prepared meals will need to find the balance between both taste and health.

According to Mintel estimates, Australia’s prepared meals market experienced moderate growth with a 4.6 per cent CAGR (compound annual growth rate) in 2014-18, however, this is expected to slow down to 3.5 per cent CAGR over 2019-23. The biggest contributor in terms of sales value comes from chilled prepared meals with 31 per cent of the market value in 2018.

The prepared meal category has been highly competitive between both private label and branded players. More recently, foodservice/meal delivery brands such as YouFoodz and Sumo Salad (Sumo Well brand) have increased their presence in retail. Furthermore, private label chilled prepared meals have evolved to resonate with modern consumers by tapping into their changing needs and lifestyles. Mintel Global New Products Database (GNPD) indicates that private label makes up for 30 per cent of chilled prepared meals launches in the past 12 months to Nov 2019.

In Australia, Mintel Purchase Intelligence research shows that, even though private labels make up only for 30 per cent of chilled prepared meals, Australian consumers are more likely to buy them than branded chilled prepared meals. It further highlights that private label chilled prepared meals can rival branded chilled prepared meals as consumers perceive them to be on par in terms of excitement and tasty perception.

With Australia’s prepared meals market set to grow modestly over the next five years, there are some notable trends happening in the market.

Power to the plants
With a shift in consumer attitudes towards meat reduction and plant-based eating, brands are now embracing the plant-based meat trend and are now offering choices to consumers in the form of plant-based meat, wholesome vegetables and vegan prepared meals. Plant-based meat prepared meals are currently using similar marketing strategies whereby they leverage familiar dishes/ingredients that are traditionally made with meat.

However, with the rise of plant-based meat, there could be potential backlash with its over-processed image. According to Mintel GNPD, only 9 per cent of prepared meal launches between November 2018 and 2019 featured a vegetarian-friendly claim, hence, meat formats made from real vegetables, such as three-bean meatballs, could have more mass appeal.

Furthermore real vegetables can also be a hero ingredient in vegan-friendly meals.

Better For You
Consumers today are looking to achieve their health goals with everyday meals, and brands in the prepared meals segment have an opportunity to help them achieve this. Mintel GNPD highlights that high/added protein claims in prepared meals have achieved mainstream status with 37 per cent of prepared meals launches featuring a high-/added protein claim in the 12 months to Nov 2019, increasing from 23 per cent in Dec 2016-Nov 2017. However, communication about protein remains varied.

Furthermore, with only 12 per cent of prepared meals claiming high-/added fibre in the 12 months to Nov 2019, health claims beyond protein are gaining momentum. Brands can use a combination of different health claims such as high protein with fibre, calorie call outs or immunity to resonate with everyday consumers.

Brands also have an opportunity to enhance their health proposition by incorporating new emerging ingredients such as collagen and hemp. To help overcome the niche and unfamiliarity of these new ingredients, prepared meals can combine them with familiar and traditional ingredients, flavours or formats.

Elevated convenience through flavour and new occasions
In Australia, both private label and branded players are exploring regional Indian flavours and dishes to differentiate themselves by leveraging the momentum of Indian cuisine as it becomes mainstream. Mintel GNPD indicates that Indian-inspired prepared meals represent 11 per cent of the prepared meals category in the 12 months to Nov 2019.

Australia’s food, drink and culture has continually been influenced by Asia, and is reflected in the prepared meals category. From Korea to Japan, Indonesian to Vietnam, there is an opportunity to explore regional Asian ingredients and dishes to excite consumers’ lunch and dinner routines.

Prepared meals are traditionally aligned with snack, lunch and dinner occasions. However, breakfast is an untapped consumption occasion, which companies can tap into and explore both sweet and savoury. Also, sides to share in a bigger portion could complement the dinner occasion.

 

Food trends: the decade ahead

As the world’s population heads towards the 10 billion mark, there are a lot of challenges that lie ahead – whether it be health, housing or employment. Then there is the question of food. The world has to figure out how to make enough food to feed what could become an insatiable demand. How will this demand be met? What are some of the current trends? What will food companies have to do to make sure they meet those demands?

Mintel is a company that specialises in market intelligence in the food and beverage sector. It recently conducted internal research and spoke with a number of external stakeholders to see what the coming issues over the next decade will be and how companies can get on board.

Sam Moore is one of Mintel’s global food and beverage analysts who has looked at the trends to see what the experts think will happen over the next 10 years.

“One thing about the food and beverage industry is how fast everything changes,” she said. “That is why we decided to look at the trends for 2030 and the long-term analysis and take a more strategic approach and think about what the food and drink industry is going to be like in 10 years’ time. We also wanted to see how businesses can prepare for that future so that there are fewer surprises.”

One of the outcomes of the research was the aforementioned population boom and how it would affect the supply chain of food.

“We are seeing that just having animal agriculture on its own won’t be enough to feed everybody,” said Moore. “We are going to have to figure out how to do that and that is why we are seeing a trend with high-end technologies being used. For a start, we are going to see more lab-grown food and that trend is all about how much consumer trust there is in food science and technology. That trust will strengthen as these things become vital conduits to save our food supply.”

Moore acknowledges that food created in the lab – especially meat – is in its infancy, but because of how fast things can change, it probably isn’t as far away as everybody thinks.
“Lab food hasn’t become commercial, but we are starting to see a lot of investment and interest in it and it is seen as a solution,” she said. “We do see it as becoming something that will strengthen our food supply. When we think about animal agriculture, 34 per cent of Australian urban internet users have said that they have environmental concerns relating to meat and we’ve seen a lot of investment in that and being able to provide a solution to this. It is something that we do predict that consumers will look more positive on in the future.”

The other problem that lab-grown meat might have to overcome is perception.
“With the lab-grown meat, a lot of the marketing strategy is about positiveness in the future,” said Moore. “I think the term ‘lab-grown meat’ can sound unappetising, but it can be sold with positive messaging around it. Potentially, it can be sold by mentioning its benefits. If they are educated about how it is produced, that could help ease that perception and make it sound more appealing.

“One of the positives we are seeing around lab-grown meat is that a lot of the companies are already investing in it. There are a lot of benefits, like being more ethical and affordable. Lab-grown meat is clean, has no hormones and is free from animal cruelty.”

As well as the issue of trying to provide enough food for the planet’s population, another emerging trend that food producers need to take heed of is how the younger generation is looking at how food and beverages are sourced in terms of being farmed and processed.

“What we predict is that success for some companies will come from those that are invested in improving the health of the planet and its population – if they are really trying to make a difference and really trying hard to help,” said Moore. “We are seeing a rising sense of urgency from people who are frustrated by this lack of action.

“We can see that there is going to be interest in that. Around 44 per cent of UK adults consider how ethical a food or beverage brand is before buying the products. Therefore, companies that do invest in the health of the planet and its population are going to do well. Generation Z consumers are being more frustrated and we can see that they are getting more and more into activism. The food sector is no different.”

And it’s not just the actual production of the food, and how it is processed that consumers are looking at when buying from the supermarket. More customers are going in-depth into as to what goes into food. Some of these issues have been around for a while, but they are still on consumers’ radar, according to Moore.

“When we think about how food is being produced, we see a fair amount of waste and that is definitely going to be addressed,” she said. “There is also a lot of concerns around antibiotics and hormones in food. Also, things like animal cruelty are on peoples’ minds.”
In summing up, Moore said there are three main planks that will help a lot of companies navigate through the ever-changing expectations of a public that is more informed than ever of where its food and beverages are sourced.

“First, successful companies will be those that invest in improving people and the planet,” she said. “Second, consumers’ trust in food science and technology will strengthen when it comes to choosing what food to buy. The third point is also around technology and how it is going to enable consumers to construct hyper individualised approaches to physical and mental health.”

Finally, according to the research released by Mintel, the food and beverage industry ‘will be compelled to elevate the role of nature, and humans, in the storytelling of these new, modern solutions. Transparency of information is essential to building trust in a future where scientists play as integral a role as farmers. And championing the people behind the food – whether it is grown in a laboratory or a field – will remain a timeless way of building trust with consumers’.

Opportunity for frozen vegetables in health-focussed diets

In Australia, producers of frozen vegetables are missing an opportunity to help consumers create high-quality, home-cooked healthy meals without sacrificing time. More Australians are starting to prioritise eating more healthily, and to do so, market research specialist Mintel has information from its surveys that points to increasing fruit and vegetable intake. This is done by following a balanced diet, and cooking more at home, as key steps in this journey.

At the same time, Australians want to make room in their lives for other priorities, such as cultivating strong personal relationships and enjoying social occasions – activities that they understand are important to their health in other ways.

Currently, Australians tend to have frozen vegetables on hand for side dish emergencies. However, these products can actually be promoted to do more – frozen vegetables can act as a shortcut for consumers who are trying to balance many things in their limited time, including eating well. Frozen vegetables provide a solution for time-strapped, yet health-focussed consumers, to create semi-scratch meals that contain lots of vegetables, while still eschewing the processed foods that they seek to avoid. Frozen vegetables are the solution to helping Australians achieve their goal to cook at home more often.

READ MORE: Tool measures the reaction to food launch

While Mintel research shows that almost half of urban Australians say they like to cook, the time taken to prepare for cooking, especially when using whole, fresh vegetables, could be better spent on other pursuits.

Enter speed-scratch or “semi-homemade” cooking. This concept, championed in the US by Food Network host Sandra Lee, instructs home cooks to use partially prepared foods to create dishes that feel like they are scratch-made.

Frozen vegetables are suitable for this, especially as they are already washed, peeled and chopped, and often come without the need to be defrosted before being added to a recipe. Positioning frozen produce as a partially prepared ingredient offers consumers a way to prepare something convenient at home without relying on processed foods – something that over two-thirds of urban Australians say they are looking to avoid.

Frozen vegetables can help home cooks in Australia create inspired, intentional meals that are rich in plant-based ingredients by clearly showing consumers the different ways that they can be used. Adding recipes and usage suggestions on pack is an approach that has worked well for the frozen fruit category. For instance, frozen fruit brands have included recipes and usage suggestions for smoothies on pack. These suggestions give consumers more ideas on how to use frozen produce, and they position frozen fruit as a product that consumers would purchase for this purpose.

By taking on a similar strategy, frozen vegetable brands can encourage consumers to buy their products more often than just something to have at home as a backup or emergency side dish.

In addition to helping consumers see frozen vegetables as a speed-scratch solution, brands need to overcome the perception that frozen is lower quality than fresh. This is especially true as Mintel research indicates the importance of freshness to Australians, with over half of them ranking it as the top attribute they seek in food.

However, according to Mintel Purchase Intelligence, a tool that measures consumer reactions to and purchase intent of food and drink products, Australians are unconvinced by the freshness of frozen vegetables. This reflects how frozen vegetable brands are not telling a strong story that communicates the freshness that these products can offer. While many brands use snap-chilling, and do mention this on pack, most are not using their packaging to talk about the benefits of quick freezing in preserving the quality, flavour and nutrition of vegetables. Telling a more dynamic story about freshness and quality can raise the value perception of frozen vegetables, especially when combined with convenience messaging.

Meanwhile, New Zealand’s Goodness Kitchen offers a good example of how these types of vegetables can communicate freshness and quality. The product uses bright colours and a see-through cut-out that reveals the product inside, which are aspects that set this packaging apart from the many bags and boxes in the frozen aisle. In addition, it uses the back of the pack to tell a full and engaging story about the company and its practices.

Goodness Kitchen talks about organic farming, freshness, nutritional quality and how frozen veggies help to reduce food waste. In an aisle where low price drives purchase intent, communicating the added value one product offers over another could open consumers’ minds to the fact that price is just one element of the value equation.

Brands in Australia have not fully exploited the chance to communicate the freshness and quality of frozen vegetables. There is the potential for these brands to show consumers that frozen products can empower them to achieve their health goals by helping them eat more vegetables, avoid processed foods and cook at home more often with less effort.

Tool measures consumer reaction to food launch

Chocolate confectionery is considered a permissible indulgence, as consumers balance portion control with enjoyment. Manufacturers are providing pre-measured portions like bites, crisps or thins, to help consumers manage their portion sizes.

According to Mintel Global New Products Database (GNPD), chocolate bites have edged out crisps and thins in global product launches over the past couple of years, with a promise of “just enough” chocolate to serve as a reward, pick-me-up, or treat.

As Mintel’s 2018 Global Food & Drink Trend “Self-Fulfilling Practices” highlights, more people find modern life to be hectic and stressful; so flexible and balanced diets will become integral elements of self-care routines. Mintel research reveals that seven in 10 urban Australians say that eating a balanced diet contributes to a healthy lifestyle.

Consumers who are seeking self-care solutions will continue to look for better-for-you (BFY) and flavourful treats because they can form part of a balanced lifestyle. Permission to enjoy treats, or satisfy cravings, is an integral aspect of self-care that particularly addresses the stress relief aspect of one’s wellbeing.

Mini chocolates outperform regular chocolate
Mintel Purchase Intelligence, a tool that measures consumer reactions to newly launched food and drink products, reveals that mini chocolates outperform regular chocolates on instant reaction and purchase intent in Australia. More importantly, mini chocolates outperform regular chocolates on attributes that typically drive purchase intent among Australian consumers.

The tool reveals that 24 per cent of Australians say that minis are good value while 20 per cent say the same of regular chocolates, which is interesting because mini chocolates –often command a higher price point.

The reason for the higher purchase intent could relate to how minis tend to come in innovative formats like tubs and resealable pouch solutions – that provide convenience to consumers.

In addition to convenience, Australian consumers rate mini chocolates as having more appealing packaging, are more fun, and being tastier than regular chocolates.

The verbatims provided by Australians on mini chocolates reveal that consumers feel bite-sized chocolates help with portion control, however, they are concerned with the use of excess plastic packaging. That said, they are willing to pay more if the packaging is recyclable.

With the intense focus on sustainability today, chocolate manufacturers may need to find new ways to reduce the excess packaging associated with mini formats to align with the one third of urban Australians who say that they prefer products that are sold in eco-friendly packaging. The Cherry Ripe Bites that retail in a cardboard tub are a good example of companies rethinking the need for plastic packaging in favour of a recyclable option.

One-third of Australians want eco-friendly packaging

A rejuvenated sense of purpose regarding environmental issues is now prompting many Australians to take positive action to be more sustainable when it comes to product packaging.

Mintel’s 2019 Global Food and Drink Trends reveal that when it comes to Australia, 32 per cent of urban Australians prefer products that are sold in eco-friendly packaging. The global market intelligence agency which surveyed 1,500 Australians aged 16+, also found that 34 per cent of urban Australians prefer to buy products that are produced using sustainable sourcing methods.

Mintel’s food and drink predictions for 2019 explore new trends in sustainability, health and wellness, and convenience, sharing insight into market forces driving growth and influencing consumer behaviour. It contains analysis from more than 15 countries and predictions based on insights by more than 90 Mintel analysts and thought leaders, representing expertise in food and drink industries across Europe, Asia Pacific, and the Americas.

Associate consulting director, ANZ for Mintel, Shelley McMillan, said the trends are largely being driven by younger generations. “Australian i-Gen consumers, more so than any other generation, prioritise the importance of sustainability and environmental practices of brand,” she said. “In particular, 16-to-34-year-old urban Australians have significantly higher purchase intent regarding food products with a carbon neutral claim versus other age groups.

“The definition of sustainability is changing to encompass the entire product lifecycle from ingredient sourcing to package disposal or reuse. This more circular approach will require companies, retailers and consumers to embrace their roles in the sustainability cycle in the near future.”

Sustainability will be one of the big three food and drink trends for Australia covered by McMillan in a keynote presentation at the upcoming Naturally Good Expo, on June 2–3 at Sydney’s International Convention Centre. The annual event is the Southern Hemisphere’s largest natural, organic and healthy products trade show featuring more than 360 exhibitors and 20 presentations from influential leaders.

McMillan will address the key issues of evergreen consumption – the circular view of sustainability spanning the entire product lifecycle; trends throughout the ages – how food and drink is building on today’s dialogue about wellness and solutions for healthy ageing; and elevated convenience – how upgrades in convenience to match the premium expectations of consumers in the on-demand age.

Regarding the issue of healthy ageing, Mintel research shows that compared to a year ago, 70 per cent of urban Australians aged 55 and older are now either spending more or about the same on healthcare products.

“Younger consumers are now looking for products that help them manage their stress and sleep better – new formats and ingredients show future opportunities,” said McMillan noting that half of Australian metro consumers are planning on getting more sleep in the next 12 months.

 

“The category of ‘edible beauty’, also known as nutricosmetics or ingestible beauty, is also one of the hottest concepts in the beauty industry and quickly moving from the supplement segment into the food and drink space. In Australia, 56 per cent of urban consumers consider diet to be a factor that can impact the appearance of skin.”

 

Another key observation is that consumers are now seeking to save time without any sacrifices. Some 57 per cent of urban Australians consider ‘healthy food’ products as one containing all-natural ingredients. McMillan said the packaged food and drink is being challenged to make improvements to keep up with a combination of modern preferences including healthy eating priorities, quests for “foodie”-inspired flavours, interest in personalisation, and competition from speedy delivery services.

 

“Meal kits and food service-inspired beverages have led the way for premium convenience food and drink with two in five urban Australians saying that convenience, as in ease of ordering, influences their decision to buy one everyday product over another.

 

“Today’s consumers need to save time throughout the day. This creates opportunities for brands to develop healthy, flavourful, customisable and quick products for breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks and dessert occasions.”

 

Automation has also set new expectations for retail with 31 per cent of urban Australians having made a purchase through an online retail site or app such as Amazon or eBay. Online shopping and delivery have attracted consumers who need quick and easy food solutions. “A new generation of automated convenience stores is accelerating the pace of grab-and-go even more. Integration with technology makes automated retailers potentially faster than fast food, drive-thru or ordering for delivery.”

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