Image courtesy of Mintel
Mintel’s global analysts have predicted four food and drink trends to expect this summer. The season will be characterized by less traditional fare, as many retailers respond to shifts in consumer behavior.

“Using our global new products database to analyze new products hitting store shelves around the world and observe the latest insights into consumer behavior, we have predicted the trends you can expect to see at parties and celebrations all summer long,” Mintel says.

One of the fastest growing trends for the season is vegan barbecue. Mintel reports that there has been an increase in specialty vegan products, such as black bean chipotle, catering to changes in consumer tastes. 33 percent of U.S. consumers plan to buy more plant-based food products in the next year, paving the way for items like jackfruit (its texture and flavor makes it a popular meat substitute) to gain in popularity.

Another trending food item for the summer is low-calorie ice cream. On retailer’s shelves, companies like Halo Top have emerged as major players. In fact, the company’s low-sugar, low-calorie, high-protein ice cream became the best-selling ice cream pint over a four-week period in July 2017.

On the beverage front, flavored sparkling water is trending as consumers look for healthier drinks with less sugar. “The desire for unsweetened beverage options, along with consumer demand for more exotic flavors and unusual ingredients, is driving a trend toward more and more creative sparkling waters,” says Jenny Zegler, Associate Director, Mintel Food & Drink. “This summer, expect to see less lemonade and more truly original mineral waters with natural flavors far beyond lemon or cucumber.”

Finally, bold snacks are on the agenda for many retailers. Consumers are looking for standout flavors, specifically ones that pair well with beer and other alcoholic beverages.