03 December 2007, 20:21 PM

  • Looking ahead to 2008, Mintel has identified ten top trends set to make it big in the new year. From bottled water backlash to environmental concerns, the year ahead is a time fro change.

1. Bottled water backlash
Bottled water has been one of the fastest growing drinks markets ever, with sales in the UK, for example, now worth five times what they were just ten years ago. But this could all be set to change.

Just recently, in the United States and Europe, some restaurants have stopped serving plain bottled water. Instead, they are serving a more retro drink, tap water. We predict that 2008 will be the beginning of a significant backlash against plain bottled water, as consumers become more aware of the environmental impact of bottling and shipping water
from remote locations to their local supermarket.

We are likely to see companies launching more functional waters, such as those with added vitamins and calcium, while consumers will go back to the tap, if all they want to do is quench their thirst.

2. Carbon footprint
Continuing on the environmental drive, we can expect to see major changes in the way manufacturers talk about their food miles and carbon footprints.

One of the major barriers here has always been that consumers simply don’t know how many miles are too many or what level of carbon footprint is an acceptable one. So for 2008, we believe that manufacturers will discuss their company-wide environmental initiatives, instead of just focusing on the carbon footprint of a particular product. As a result,
environmental claims will appear on company websites, rather than on the products themselves.

3. Fairtrade expansion
Currently, Fairtrade products are more established in Europe than in other parts of the world, but this is set to change. In 2008, we will see rising numbers of Fairtrade and Fairtrade-certified products appearing in the US, Latin America and Asia. While there will be more imports (e.g. European brands sold in those regions), we also expect to see more activity from local companies.

4. Ancient and sacred grains
Next year, we predict that certain ancient grains, such as amaranth, quinoa, teff, millet and kamut, will move from niche markets to the mainstream, appearing in products from leading manufacturers. Companies will focus on the whole grain nature of these grains and also on the fact that many are gluten-free. Expect to see more everyday products appearing with these new, yet old grains.

5. Salt - a positive and a negative
From one ancient product to another - salt. Today, products with too much salt often get a bad rap. But on a more positive note, companies may follow Campbell Soup’s lead and formulate some of their products with sea salt rather than mineral salt. In addition, “place” salts (e.g. Hawaiian red clay salt) and flavoured salts will continue to appear more often on supermarket shelves.

6. Junk-free foods
‘Junk’ is described by consumer activist groups as any additives, preservatives, colours, flavours or otherwise unknown ingredients listed on food labels. While the food industry clearly understands why these ingredients are in our food, consumers do not. Increasingly, and especially in Europe, consumers are demanding that these ingredients be removed from foods, particularly those targeting children. Watch for some companies to expand their ‘junk-free’ labelling, while others find ways to explain the importance of these misunderstood ingredients.

7. Clean labels
Closely aligned with ‘junk-free’ foods, clean labels are those that contain ingredients easily understood by consumers. Usually, they are ingredients that mirror what we may have in our kitchen cupboard. While for some products this may be difficult to achieve, in 2008, we will see more products with ingredient labels that read like a home recipe rather
than a chemists’ shopping list.

8. Transparency throughout the system
Taking this trend one step further, 2008 will show companies providing consumers with more information than ever before. Manufacturers will increase transparency about where ingredients come from, how they are manufactured and how they are packaged. This ties in with the trend towards more local sourcing of ingredients and a greater interest in a
product’s origin.

9. Faux genomics
We are still a long way from being able to scan an individual’s DNA to determine the correct diet and exercise regime for maximum health and wellbeing. But in the meantime, we do see the beginnings of companies trying to figure out ways to customise products as much as possible.

Products that are designed to be consumed all at once, like a daily shot, and that deliver a very specific, single benefit will become increasingly popular. For example, a little bottle of drink that controls blood sugar levels for 24 hours.

10. Experiential shopping
In a world where you no longer just eat, you have a culinary experience and in place of a gift, you often receive an experience day, we have seen a shift towards experiential shopping.

In 2008, traditional supermarkets will expand the number and types of experiences they offer in store. We will see more in-store dining, warmer lighting and familiar display fixtures. We also expect more built-in sampling stations to keep consumers stimulated, interested, and most importantly, in the store longer.