Global Food & Drink Trends for 2018


As a brand operating within the food and drink industry, it is important to understand the shifting attitudes and behaviours of your consumer within the global marketplace. In this article, we summarise key findings from category insight leaders such as Mintel, Bord Bia, Euromonitor and Fortune to give you the highlights of trends that will shape the coming year.

Source: Mintel, Global Food & Drink Trends 2018

Five Future Looking Consumer Trends

  1. Trust (transparency, stated origin and ethical treatment of producers)
  2. Self-care routines (healthy diet & lifestyle)
  3. Stress Alleviation (consumers seeking to form healthy habits)
  4. Individuality
  5. Sustainability

What Consumers Need in 2018

  • Transparency; consumers lack trust in regulatory systems due to product recalls, there is a heightened interest in the origins of food. “Distrust is rampant…[so] consumers will buy into this” – Mintel
  • Consumers require confidence in safety, purity, trustworthiness of food/drink products in order to buy

Food & Drink Manufacturers are expected to be forthcoming in 2018 about their:

  • Ingredients
  • Production Processes
  • Supply Chains

Food & Drink Packaging

  • Use of “Natural” claims are up by 29% from 17% in 2016/2017 and use of ‘Environmental’ claims up by 22% from 1% in 2016/2017

Regional Outlook


  • 45% of young consumers rate food safety as a top three concern when choosing supermarket, hypermarket or online retailer
  • Chinese consumers are open to indulge in desserts as part of a balanced diet, dairy producers should focus on ‘better for you’ ice-cream as it interests 85% of Chinese ice cream consumers.
  • Food Texture: Chinese consumers are open to a range of food textures across categories for example, 43% of Chinese tea drinkers are interested in options with fruit bits. One third of Chinese 20 to 49 year olds say their ideal yogurt would have cereal, grains or seeds.

US: 57% of US fruit consumers eat fruit to satisfy cravings

UK: 57% of shoppers expect ethical claims to be on food produce i.e. supporting milk famers

EU: European consumers generally trust a company that manufactures products within their own country

The Future for Successful Manufacturers

Self-Care Routines

In 2018, healthy food/drink will not be considered luxuries; making high quality, natural and organic available to everyone will be a priority for food distributors (Amazon have seen this coming with their acquisition of Whole Foods). Self-care focused consumers will be looking for nutritional, physical or emotional benefits.

Stress Alleviation

Consumers are actively avoiding sugar, salt and saturated fats and want to look after themselves in order to stay up to speed. Today’s consumers are actively defining healthy diets/lifestyles, make it easy for consumers to choose your product. Ingredient statements such as ‘high in protein’, ‘contains vegetable pieces’, ‘extracts of green tea’ will result in more successful products.

Communicate the functional benefits of your product’s ‘natural’ and ‘nutritional ingredients’

  • Example: Goji Berries reduce fatigue, stress and give a boost in the morning
  • Today’s consumers are swapping ‘permissible indulgence’/’rare treat’ for ‘habitual better for you treats’

Selling Relaxation: top three herbs and spices used globally in food/drink:

  • Chamomile, lavender and lemon balm

Social Media Guide for Food/Drink Producers

  • Focus on image centric channels i.e. Instagram and Pinterest
  • Engage all the senses to create ‘like-worthy’ social media (e.g. noises associated with breaking a Ritz cracker)
  • Colour and Texture will lead this effort in 2018 – texture in particular (chewy, creamy, fun).
  • Colourful ingredients that create vibrantly hued products are becoming popular, such as turmeric, matcha and activated charcoal


Premium Yogurt Growth within Chinese Dairy Market

Source: Suki Wu, Shanghai Office, Bord Bia – Irish Food Board
  • Female Chinese consumers see yogurt as beneficial for digestion and important for weight management
  • Chinese dairy companies are focusing on this category due to higher profit margins and great market potential
  • In 2010, the yogurt’s sales volume in China was $500m, in 2016, these sales reach $15.5bn, equalling a growth rate of 206%; three times the growth rate of liquid milk
  • To be successful in this category, food companies need to be innovative based on food safety, health and find solutions on flavours, packaging and functions
  • Bright Group: launched their  first premium yogurt ‘Enjoy Yoghurt’ last September
  • Mengniu Group: launched super premium ‘Telunsu’ in 2017
  • Weichuan: plan to upgrade yogurt product packages with a $15m investment
  • Wahaha Group: upgraded their red date & Goji berry flavoured yogurt


Bord Bia has Identified South East Asia Region as High Potential for Food Exports

Source: Joe Burke, Meat Department, Bord Bia – Irish Food Board
  • This region has been selected as part of Bord Bias ‘Market Prioritisation Project’
  • Irish agri-food trade mission to South Korea and Japan took place in November 2017
  • Forty representatives from Irish meat and dairy companies joined Bord Bia on the five day visit
  • Ireland currently exports €100m worth of food/drink to these markets, Bord Bia sees this growing to €250m by 2025


Global Butter Market is in Short Supply

Source: Aileen Dowd, Paris Office, Bord Bia – Irish Food Bord
  • Global consumption of butter grew 7% between 2012 and 2016
  • In 2017, global demand for butter has grown 2.7%, while production is up just 2%
  • The price of butter (in mid-November) rose by 70% in Europe to €6,800/tonne
  • France: particularly effected as it is the country with highest per capita consumption of butter. French retailers are not willing to pay higher prices for butter, leading producers to sell to more lucrative outside markets
  • China: French butter exports to China grew approximately 50% last year; consumers have an increasing demand for the commodity
  • New Zealand: drop in production due to droughts
  • US: exports have decreased as producers are focusing on domestic demand. Consumer sentiment around butter has improved due to health benefits communicated in reports from the Annuals of internal Medicine 2014


Source: Fortune Magazine/Retail/Fortune Crystal Ball

Meat Substitutes Projected for Strong Growth

  • Technology meets food: veggie meat is starting to resemble the real thing
  • At present: meat substitutes make up less than 1% of processed meat and seafood retail market by volume
  • In the next five years: Euromonitor projects 10% growth in US and 23% growth globally

Wine Prices set to Surge Next Year

Output was low in 2017 due to the following conditions:

  • California: poor wine crop due to fires
  • France, Italy and Spain: extreme weather

Food Delivery Start-ups are Beginning to Decline

  • Blue Apron stock is falling; instant food delivery industry has had its peak

Whole Foods backs Flower Flavours

  • Rose and lavender flower flavours will be mainstream in 2018


Brand Rankings: Asian Brands Gain Prominence in Global Packaged Foods

Source: Pinar Hosafci, Senior Analyst – Food, Passport/Euromonitor
  • In 2017, three of the top five global packaged food brands have come from Chinese Dairy companies; Yili, Mengniu and Arawana
  • Danone: is predicted to supass Kraft-Heinz as fifth largest global packaged food company
  • Lactalis: made gains through smaller acquisitions of companies in emerging markets (Brazil and India)
  • Unilever: Currently looking for a buyer for their Butter and Margarine Unit and are predicted to fall behind Danone
  • PepsiCo: Outperformed Mars and Mondelez in the confectionary category with its strong presence in savoury snacks
  • Ferrero: Ranked 11th, making steady gains by concentrating on the premium end of the confectinary category while boosting its presence in emerging markets including China
  • Kraft-Heinz: Sales have stagnated due to poor performance of cheese and processed meat legacy brands in North America. Its private equity backer, 3G Capital, will look to acquire another large food company to generate group synergies
  • Two of the top five sweet biscuit brands came from Asia Pacific: leading Indian biscuit brand Britannia overtook Chips Ahoy! (US Cookie brand) to become the third biggest brand in 2016. Parle, another Indian brand, now sells more than Kellogg’s Keebler and PepsiCo’s Gamesa


Packaged Food in China

Source: Euromonitor International, November 2017
  • Sales of packaged food are driven by the premiumisation trend and rising levels of disposable income
  • Faster lifestyles/increased stress are leading consumers to seek healthy convenient food
  • 2015’s two-child policy is starting to positively affect the baby food market’s value growth
  • Market segmentation in China boosted the packaged food category, including the children-specific series within processed cheese, plain noodles and chocolate
  • Internet retailing is growing stronger: some companies are launching products online in China before distributing to offline retail channels, for example Mondelez debuted ‘LU’ biscuits on at the end of 2016. Improved cold-chain systems have contributed to the climbing shares of drinking milk products, butter and cheese within internet retailing
  • Increased acceptance of Western cuisine: due to western packaged food requiring less time to prepare, these products fit in with the faster paced lives of Chinese consumers. Western packaged foods like cheese, RTE breakfast cereals, chilled processed meat, pasta and baked goods all met higher demand in 2017, especially for food products of high quality and nutritional ingredients.

Ready to talk?

Make an Enquiry