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#OnShelf: Top FMCG product trends

by Louise Burgers. These are the consumer trends driving new product innovation and development for 2022.

by Louise Burgers. These are the consumer trends driving new product innovation and development for 2022, according to global insights research agency, FMCG Gurus, which released their Top Ten Trends for 2022 global report last night, Tuesday, January 25, 2022. The Top Ten Trends report, sponsored by Beneo, identifies the consumer behaviours that are influencing product trends and consumption across the global food, drink and supplement markets. In a Webinar this week, Mike Hughes, FMCG Gurus head of research and insight, presented the short-lived and long-lasting implications of the pandemic on consumers, so brands can develop strategies for 2022 and beyond.

The report examines the trends influencing attitudes and behaviours across the food, drink and supplement industry, including the key themes of health and wellness, sustainability, comfort, trust and indulgence; as well as “how consumer’s need states are evolving in an era of continued uncertainty” – and what this means to the industry. FMCG Gurus is headquartered in the UK and covers all the key market regions in the world to bring the latest consumer, shopper, and category insights to brands and retailers. Five key themes stand out from the annual research study, which will drive product innovation and development in the FMCG industry in the next few years:

  • Health and wellness: Consumers globally, are taking more of a proactive and preventative approach to health.
  • Sustainability: Consumers are changing their diets and lifestyles to protect the planet and are seeking out brands that mirror their attitudes and outlook.
  • Indulgence: The long pandemic years have made consumers crave small indulgences and escapism.
  • Comfort and convenience: The continuing high levels of uncertainty and insecurity being experienced by consumers will drive the demand for convenient and comforting products.
  • Transparency: Consumers want more simplicity and authenticity from brands.

The Top Ten Trends from FMCG Gurus impact directly on product development and innovation this year and beyond, in the food, drinks, health, supplements and total wellness categories:

1. Path to Net Zero

Consumers are becoming more conscious about environmental issues such as carbon emissions and food waste, and are taking proactive steps to address this – expecting brands and retailers to mirror these actions – 59% of global consumers (and 54% in Africa and the Middle East) say it is important that packaging helps prevent food waste. The result is that consumers are only purchasing products they deem necessary and that do not impact the environment negatively. Food waste is a concern and consumers are embracing an upcycling future because they want carbon neutral products. Brands that use their carbon neutral status, upcycled ingredients and sustainability credentials as their point of differentiation will find favour with these consumers who “associate sustainability with self-identity”.

2. Destination Health

Consumers are taking a holistic approach to health, looking to boost their physical and cognitive well-being and seeking out ingredients that offer a health boost beyond basic nutrition. Consumers want to redefine what constitutes beauty – prioritising health and happiness (globally 54% of consumers). The impact of the pandemic on emotional health is a concern. Globally, 46% of consumers (64% in Africa/ME), have sought out food to boost immune health in the last month. “Consumers will look to maximise their intake of ingredients associated with offering a health boost beyond basic nutrition. Products that promote multifunctional benefits will be of high appeal,” reports FMCG Gurus. In addition, they found that:

  • 73% of global consumers have experienced stress.
  • 31% are on a diet to lose weight.
  • 49% have changed their diets over the last two years.
  • 44% are seeking out functional food more frequently.
  • 27% increased their intake of Vitamin C in the last two years.
3. Conscious Indulgence

Consumers want to enjoy uncompromised moments of indulgence for reward and escapism purposes. At the same time, they do not want these moments to conflict with wider health goals. Consumers have become more experimental in their choice of grocery products over the last five years (global 56%, Africa/ME 62%); and are adventurous when it comes to trying new products (global 58%, Africa/ME 51%). While snacking habits continue to evolve, consumers are seeking out products that offer taste and nutrition at the same time – as 59% of global consumers still regularly enjoy global treats.

4. Dare to Change

Experimental consumers want new and unusual flavours that challenge their sensory perceptions, whilst also wanting authenticity and reassurance that maximum care and attention has gone into product formulation. “Self-identity is important to consumers who want products that they feel reflect their attitude and outlook on life and enable them to project their good taste and sophistication to others,” the report reads. Globally, 74% (Africa 84%) of consumers said that they liked food and drink products with new and unusual/exotic flavours; and 80% like hot and spicy new flavours. Storytelling is important, said Hughes, as authenticity is crucial to consumers who want to know the backstory to the products they purchase.

5. Everyday Starts Now

Consumers are adopting a long-term approach to health maintenance, adopting a back-to-basic approach to nutrition and wanting simplified information on how to lead a healthier lifestyle. Nutritional information must be transparent – but also simpler so that consumers can understand labelling, say 55% of global consumers (Africa/ME 57%). This is because consumers are taking a long-term approach to health to minimise vulnerability to illness after the Covid pandemic. Consumers do feel that brands make nutritional labelling deliberately confusing to hide harmful ingredients in products, such as sugar. This is because Covid has made consumers more health conscious (globally 62%); and 66% of global consumers say they have also become more mindful of ingredient listings on food and drink products over the last 12 months of 2021.

6. Technovate Me

Consumers believe that technological innovations will offer new opportunities within the health and wellness market, especially from a customisation and personalisation perspective. This is what FMCG Gurus found in their latest research: “Customisation is something that is seen to offer new opportunities across the food, drink, and supplement markets. This will drive demand for made to-order products such as 3D-printed food and products where the taste and nutritional content of offerings can be pre-determined and then delivered. Consumers will expect to see such innovations in a matter of years.” The proportion of consumers who say they are interested in food and drink products customised for individual nutritional needs are 67% global; 76% Africa/ME. Consumers want real-time information and expect this too from the FMCG market. They want to monitor their health and nutritional levels and are even prepared to wear chip-enabled skin patches (global 62%; Africa/ME 67%).

7. Plant for the Planet

Consumers are modifying their diets to lead a healthier and more sustainable lifestyle, driving demand for brands and products that are deemed to be green and clean. Consumers are adopting the flexitarian trend in greater numbers, as they associate plant-based diets with a variety of benefits, but are worried about missing out on crucial nutrients if they give up animal products entirely – which provides FMCG manufacturers with the opportunity to fortify products in the plant-based meat and dairy markets. Fortified plant meat is appealing to 52% of global consumers (Africa/ME 57%). In fact, 29% of global consumers plan to increase their intake of plant-based food because of COVID-19.

8. Prevention over Cure

A focus on disease management means that consumers are taking a proactive and preventive approach to health and looking to minimise vulnerability to disease and illness. The biggest shift in consumer attitudes during the pandemic is over health. Consumers are no longer just more conscious of their health, but are actively seeking to prevent health problems in the future, by leading healthier lifestyles (global 61%; Africa/ME 59%). Reports FMCG Gurus: “Over the last 18  months, consumers have re-evaluated their health as they have questioned their vulnerability to disease and illness. This means that health goals have shifted with a greater focus on disease management and prevention over cure. This is driving demand for functional products that promote a variety of health claims.” These are the top 10 ingredients consumers want included in products to boost their immune systems: Protein, Vitamin C, Iron, Probiotics, Omega 3, Vitamin A, Omega 6, Zinc, Vitamin D, Fibre.

9. Peace of Mind

Risk adverse consumers are looking to reduce feelings of stress and uncertainty, with an increased focus on safety and a re-evaluation of what is important in life. Consumers continue to feel insecure and uncertain about the future, which means they are seeking out brands they know and trust. “Brands and retailers need to respond to this by putting heritage and country of origin at the forefront of marketing to help offer familiarity and safety assurance,” the report states. In fact, 58% of global consumers are now more attentive to whether products are produced locally or not. “Greater attentiveness to ingredients and focus on naturalness and wholesomeness, means people are looking to cook from scratch more, recognising the physical and emotive benefits of this.”

10. Reality Resumes

A focus on returning to normality whilst dealing with high levels of uncertainty means that consumers will face a variety of stresses and concerns on a day-to-day basis. As consumers expect the world to return to some kind of normality post-pandemic, concerns about the next crisis – the climate change crisis – will intensify. FMCG Gurus says brands and retailers are expected to actively show their sustainable credentials along the whole of the supply chain. This is an important stat: 71% of global consumers and 68% in Africa, say they have become more concerned about the environment as a result of COVID-19.


More: #10things consumers want brands to focus on for 2022

More: #NEXT2022: Consumers do not believe ‘normal’ will return soon



Main image credit: Unsplash.com.


Louise Burgers is the Publisher and Editor and Co-Founder of RetailingAfrica.com. She has spent over 20 years writing about the FMCG retailing, marketing, media and advertising industry in South Africa and on the African continent. She has specialised in local and Africa consumer trends and is a passionate Afro-optimist who believes it is Africa’s time to rise again and that the Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) will be a global gamechanger in the next decade.


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