Latest research from the research firm's GNPD (Global New Products Database) shows that these sectors accounted for a great deal of innovation last year.
"Last year was yet another record-breaking year for new product launches," said GNPD consulting director David Jago.
"Interestingly many companies opted for line extensions rather than 'new' new products, but this has not been at the expense of creativity. Mintel has identified several new and evolving trends that are set to have a huge impact on product innovation."
Mintel predicts that greater focus will be placed on more wisdom enhancing products.
"In 2006 we are likely to see a number of new products containing Omega 3, a fatty acid which is usually associated with fish and which is said to enhance brain function," said Jago.
Omega 3 is best known in the West for its heart health benefits, but it is already well recognised in Asia in association with mental function, and there is evidence that it is becoming more widespread.
New products outside Asia include Kids P'tit Yoco Omega 3 yoghurts from Nestle launched in Europe and a snack bar from Biomedical Laboratories in the UK called iQ3 Brainstorm! with Omega 3.
"There is increasing focus on mental function in North America and Europe, particularly with kids."
The benefits of Omega 3 have been extensively researched and it is commonly seen in dietary supplements, but is now making an appearance in food and drink products. Mintel says that this will become more mainstream in the coming months.
Amino acids are also already popular in Asia and many people can actually name the particular benefits of specific amino acids now commonly seen in food and drink products. A recent example in Japan is GABA chocolate, which was launched by Ezaki Glico, a 'relaxation-inducing' chocolate for busy people working in stressfulenvironments.
While awareness of amino acids in Europe is limited, Mintel predicts that this is likely to change.
Growing old gracefully is the new staying young
Displaced for several years by youth marketing initiatives, Mintel says that marketers are now increasingly banking on the profit potential of the senior sector.
"For many manufacturers older consumers were once seen as a low priority but their importance is now being recognised in light of an ageing population in a number of countries," said Jago.
" Many products aimed specifically at older consumers cater to their needs, whether helping them to enjoy the simple things in life or to grow old gracefully."
Older consumers particularly in Japan, which has the oldest population in the world, are enjoying foods targeted specifically at them, such as Kameda Seika's rice porridge, which is finer in texture, so making it easier to chew and swallow.
Knowing when to say no
Portion control is set to be the next big thing, claims Mintel, moving beyond snacks into new food categories and new parts of the world. Portion control in 2005 was popular amongst snack manufacturers, with many snacks claiming to be 100-calorie products, while Frito-Lay introduced the Doritos 75 calorie snack pack in the US.
Within the food and drink sector as a whole, there were an impressive 87,656 new product launches, an 8 per cent increase on 2004 figures.
The most active markets were beverages accounting for just under a fifth (18 per cent) of the new introductions, bakery (12 per cent) and confectionery (11 per cent).
GNPD is part of Mintel International Group and provides coverage of new product development. The database monitors worldwide product innovation in consumer packaged goods markets.