According to Mintel’s senior global food and drink and purchase intelligence analyst, Cormac Henry, inflation is squeezing Australian grocery consumer pursestrings in 2023, with 29 percent of surveyed consumers sharing that they were spending more on food for eating at home (excluding takeaways).
In New Zealand, budgets are also stretched, with 24 percent of Kiwi consumers describing their financial situation as ‘tight’ this year, up seven percent from the last calendar year.
While budgets are squeezed, brands should not assume that a race to the bottom on price is how to win consumer spend. Nutrition will remain a key driver, with 47 percent of Aussie consumers agreeing that health benefits are a key value indicator in food and drink, compared to 42 percent who agree lower prices are key. Offering escapism through the indulgence and joy of food and drink will also remain key as consumers seek respite in uncertain times.
Sustainability will continue to have a low prominence in driving purchases. Yet brands have an opportunity to do more to provide sustainable solutions that help consumers become more frugal with essential resources such as water.
Mintel’s 2023 Food and Drink Trends explored how brands can provide value to consumers in tough times. The first noticeable trend was Savvy Sustenance.
Cormac continued that 36 percent of New Zealand consumers want to consume more nutritious food and drink, for example, products packed with vitamins and minerals). In Australia, 26 percent of consumers seek more affordable food and drink options. Henry explained that brands can marry the two by offering nutritious food and drink that fills bellies but doesn’t empty wallets.
In the immediate future, this means helping consumers unlock more nutritional value from the products they may already buy. For example, products high in protein often communicate their muscle maintenance benefits but do not necessarily call out protein’s ability to help consumers feel fuller.
Naturally, nutritiously dense products such as nuts, fruits, and vegetables are also well positioned to win here, providing key nutrients with greater cost efficiency versus products that have been vitamin and mineral-fortified to make them more nutritionally complete.
The second trend Mintel noticed was Unguilty Pleasures, as Henry said that stressful times see food and drink come to the rescue, with 43 percent of New Zealand consumers eating comfort foods to relieve stress.
Brands can lean into offering consumers shameless indulgence that helps alleviate stress and promote pleasure at home.
Partnering with food service brands to introduce retail products is one way to recreate the pleasure of restaurant tastes more affordably at home. Brands can also play with limited edition products that offer consumers hidden flavours or multi-textural layers that vary the texture and taste experience within one product.
Further opportunity exists in unlocking pleasure through self-care. Positioning the at-home cooking occasion as a mindful, self-care moment can take the ‘chore’ mentality out of cooking. Partnering with meditation apps with curated playlists designed to accompany cooking can be one engagement strategy.
The third trend Mintel analysed was the Worth of Water, with 2023 signifying a year in which sustainability could be viewed as lower on the agenda for many consumers while inflation continues and price over ethical credentials is prioritised.
However, consumers are becoming more tuned into more specific sustainability issues. Twenty-two percent agreed that water shortages were a concern. Unfortunately, Australian and New Zealand consumers are now well accustomed to the impact extreme weather events have on water supplies and the knock-on impact this can have on food and drink supplies.
Water in the spotlight means companies and consumers will look for solutions promoting more resourceful water use. Concentrated products are one solution that is water efficient, versatile, and customisable.
Concentrates also have the added benefit of reducing the carbon footprint in transport (as the consumer adds the water to their home) and have longer shelf lives, reducing food waste.