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Medicinal mushrooms, edible beauty and ugly fruit: the big trends in food and beverage

With the food and beverage landscape ever-evolving, Inside FMCG chatted to Shelley McMillan, head of consulting, South APAC, Mintel about the big trends we can expect to disrupt the industry in the coming year.

INSIDE FMCG: What are the major trends we can expect to develop in the food and beverage landscape?

SM: We are seeing modern takes on convenience, sustainability and health and wellness shaping the food and beverage landscape.

Collaboration between suppliers, manufacturers, retailers and consumers will extend sustainability throughout the entire product lifecycle. To match the premium expectations of consumers in the on-demand age, convenience food and drink will get an upgrade.

We will also see food and drink build on today’s dialogue about wellness and transition into more solutions for healthy ageing, sleep and edible beauty.

INSIDE FMCG: Are consumers starting to think beyond packaging when it comes to sustainability in FMCG?

SM: A movement is growing that defines sustainability as a circular endeavour that incorporates a product’s entire lifecycle, from ingredient sourcing at the beginning to package disposal at the end. This more circular approach will require companies, retailers and consumers to embrace their roles in the sustainable sourcing, production, distribution, consumption and disposal of products.

While packaging is a clear action point, a truly circular view of sustainability includes important environmental concerns such as soil health, regenerative agriculture and air pollution. Brands can commit to improving farming and reducing pollution, and also help educate consumers on why these issues are important.

INSIDE FMCG: Is food waste a concern for consumers?

SM: Consumer awareness around the issue of food waste is spreading because of efforts made by retailers and restaurants to reduce or donate food and drink that is past its sell-by date, blemished or damaged. Here in Australia, all of the large supermarket banners have created a specific brand around ‘Ugly Fruit and Veges’ as part of a larger programme to reduce food waste, as well as cost.

Some consumers are bypassing potential cost savings because they are concerned about throwing food away. The greater adoption of new food formats, such as smaller packs or frozen options, and changing shopping habits can help consumers to be more sustainable when it comes to food waste.

INSIDE FMCG: What health foods can we expect to dominate?

SM: Anything plant-based; consumers continue to be interested in flavourful, nutritious and convenient ways to consume more plants in their diet. In particular, we have seen mushrooms explode. For instance, coffee blended with mushrooms has started to appear in cafés in the UK while launches of mushroom snacks have skyrocketed in China. Meanwhile, medicinal mushrooms, such as chaga, reishi and cordyceps, are linked to anti-inflammatory, immune-boosting and memory-enhancing benefits

There is also real interest in gut health as consumers are increasingly health-conscious and taking a more holistic approach to their own wellbeing. This is driving them to look for product solutions that complement, rather than interrupt, the natural process of their own body.

INSIDE FMCG: Consumers are always trying to save time where possible. How is the convenience aspect of food and beverage evolving?

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.

Online shopping and delivery have attracted consumers who need quick and easy food solutions, but a new generation of automated convenience stores is accelerating the pace of grab-and-go further. Integration with technology makes automated retailers potentially faster than fast food, drive-thru or ordering for delivery.

Meal kits and foodservice-inspired beverages have led the way for premium convenience food and drink. Yet 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

INSIDE FMCG: Is the Australian market positioned to deliver on these convenience trends?

SM: Although Australia may not be as advanced in online shopping and delivery as compared to markets like the US and China, this will provide local players with frameworks for innovation that deliver to Australians’ desires for both high quality and convenient foods. The intersection of health and convenience is a hot spot for manufacturers in Australia, especially as people seek out time saving solutions that still deliver on nutrition and taste.

Shelley McMillan will be discussing the big trends in food and beverage at the Naturally Good Expo in the ICC Sydney on June 3.

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