Exploring Mintel’s Food and Drink Trends

Caroline Roux from Mintel, explores Mintel’s Food and Drink Trends: A roadmap for dairy brands

11 Jun 2024

5 min

#Blog #All Categories #Global

Dairy brands can play an important role in educating Gen X on healthy approaches to navigating previously stigmatised life stages. Furthermore, embracing new technologies and processing methods can provide advantages in sustainability, nutrition, and convenience.

Age Reframed: Supporting a healthy ageing process

Generation X (aged 44-58) is critical to the dairy industry. In China, nearly half (49%) of consumers born in the 70s drink dairy milk once a day or more1 while in Canada, 51% of Gen X only buy dairy milk.2 Brands are urged to nurture the loyalty of this demographic group, as Gen X consumers will look at food/drink consumption to ensure their good health going forward.

In addition to reducing bone loss and improving digestion, dairy brands can also help to address mental challenges faced by Gen X. Milk is perceived as a legitimate sleep aid and is often consumed as an evening or night-time snack. Gen X consumers will also seek natural solutions that support mental wellbeing, such as adaptogens, nervines, probiotics, or nootropics (eg L-theanine, GABA).

For menopausal women, brands can add functional health ingredients to their products to help with “brain fog.” In Thailand, 62% of women aged 45+ are interested in trying milk products that support brain health (e.g., focus, memory).3

Consumers can also benefit from “diabetes-friendly” snacks. Claims of being suitable for diabetics are banned in the UK and EU4, but owed to its low-carb formulation, cheese is a suitable option for consumers who want to manage their blood sugar levels. Cheese can play a role in low-carb snacking. Low-GI, slow-carb yogurt would also appeal to consumers looking to prevent the onset of type 2 diabetes.

The next-youngest generation, millennials (aged 28-43), will follow in the footsteps of Generation X. For Millennials, being in good health is a prerequisite for being successful in life.

Consumer Powders - Woman excercising in city with fitness tracker

Eating, Optimised: Improving kitchen experience with tech-infused dairy staples

As more consumers become used to the helpful role that technology is playing in their lives, marketing will shift from targeted ads to an evolved form of product placement, ensuring that AI, Augmented Reality and other recipe generators suggest specific brands within personalised meal planning.

In the next 12 months, consumers’ experiences with efficient products and tools that save time and effort will make them more open to new routes to saving time via technology. Soon, consumers will find that emerging tech solutions, such as automated shopping lists, meal planning apps and AI, will be integral tools for planning meals, as well as other day-to-day plans.

Dairy brands should embrace technologies and processing techniques that give advantages in sustainability and nutrition.

As staple cooking ingredients, dairy will be expected to adapt to consumers' high-tech kitchens that offer convenience and time-saving solutions.

NZMP Consumer Powders woman drinking tea

Trust the Process: Leverage dairy being lightly processed

There is now more scrutiny about the levels of processing in the food and drink industry. As a result, consumers will be more discerning about ingredients, nutrition, and production methods and become more mindful about their consumption of processed food and drink.

There is a growth potential for minimally processed brands to share the benefits of processing in terms consumers understand and can relate to. n the fermentation process,  dairy brands, including unaged cheese, can claim an intense and sophisticated taste. Brands can also share the level of expertise they put into the fermentation process to perfect the taste and texture of their products.

Moreover, fermentation is helped by some strains of probiotics. Probiotics are thought to play a crucial role in balancing gut microflora and supporting the intestinal absorption of micronutrients. Some probiotics also have the potential to enhance sleep quality and alleviate stress and anxiety.

With higher household energy costs, consumers will start to look at products that reduce or do not require refrigeration or freezing.

Consumers who try to live sustainably will be very interested in shelf-stable dairy that does not need to be refrigerated when being transported or when in-store. In the UK, where consumers prefer the taste of fresh milk over UHT milk, 39% of milk buyers said they would use UHT milk which has a smaller environmental footprint than chilled milk.5

Climate Changes, Comfort Endures: Delivering on sustainability with an emphasis on value comfort

As the climate crisis intensifies, consumers expect food and drink brands to operate more sustainably. Consumers will be more critical of eco-claims and what they see as greenwashing. Food and drink companies will be rewarded not only for their sustainability efforts, but mostly for the moments of joy they deliver to consumers who may be overwhelmed by the climate crisis.

Looking ahead

Dairy brands are at an important point in time, staying ahead of these trends while aligning with diverse and evolving consumer preferences. Generation X, a critical demographic, presents opportunities for dairy brands to provide support and solutions for health issues such as menopause and sleep difficulties, tapping into the natural appeal of dairy products as aids. Embracing technology will enhance the kitchen experience and drive efficiency, while sustainability becomes non-negotiable in the face of climate change. Leveraging fermentation techniques not only adds value but aligns with consumer demands for minimally processed options. As the industry adapts to meet these challenges delivering comfort will also remain a key part of engaging consumers in the dairy space.


Caroline Roux

Consultant Analyst, Mintel

In her current role at Mintel, Caroline Roux provides robust consumer insights and realistic recommendations to food and drink companies around the globe, particularly dairy ones. Her forward-thinking analysis focuses on specific issues and broader macro-trends impacting consumer behaviour, companies’ strategy, innovation, and brand development.

Prior to Mintel, Caroline worked in marketing on leading French and British dairy brands. She led annual brand planning, developed marketing plans and drove innovation projects. Beyond her marketing expertise, Caroline has experience in working with manufacturers' cross-functional teams as well as with food and drink retailers.

Caroline has a Master’s Degree in Sociology from La Sorbonne University (France) and a MA in Marketing from Dauphine University (France).

The views expressed above are the opinion of the author, not those of Fonterra, and Fonterra is not responsible for any decisions taken in reliance on the same.

  • 1. Mintel Reports China, Beverage Blurring, 2023,
  • 2. Mintel Reports Canada, Dairy & Non-Dairy Milk, 2023,
  • 3. Mintel Reports Thailand, Milk and Dairy Alternatives, 2022,
  • 4. Mintel Reports UK, Dairy and Dairy Alternative Drinks, Milk and Cream, 2023,

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