Food and beverage products positioned as healthy and responsibly produced represent a signifi cant market opportunity as consumers become increasingly mindful about what they eat and drink.
“Consumers are not just looking for products that are good for their body, but they also want products that are good for the world,” said Florencia Moreno Torres, market analyst for Innova Market Insights.
The rise of the mindful consumer as a key force in product development was one of 10 top trends highlighted by Arnhem, The Netherlands-based Innova Market Insights at IFT18, the Institute of Food Technologists’ annual meeting and food exposition in Chicago.
Nearly half of global food and beverage introductions last year featured a better-for-you claim, which compared to 42% in 2013. Product launches with an ethical animal, human or environment claim grew at a compound annual growth rate of 47% from 2013 to 2017.
“This trend isn’t going anywhere … and is actually going to get even stronger,” Ms. Moreno Torres said.
Read on for nine more food trends discussed by Innova Market Insights at IFT18.
BEYOND THE COFFEEHOUSE
From matcha to mocha, tea and coffee variants are gaining ground outside of the beverage category. Cookies, confections and spreads feature fl avors of espresso, cappuccino and latte, Ms. Moreno Torres said.
The number of snack launches with a coffee fl avor has doubled over the past five years. At the same time, tea and coffee product launches are growing full steam ahead, providing numerous innovation opportunities around flavor and functionality. Half of U.S. consumers seek more flavor fusion in beverages, fueling demand for such concepts as s’mores flavored coffee and a lemon drizzle variety of green tea.
GOING FULL CIRCLE
Heightened awareness of packaging and food waste has inspired product development offering sustainable solutions. More than a third of global food and beverage launches last year featured ethical packaging claims such as biodegradable or compostable, and a growing number of products highlight the use of upcycled ingredients or byproducts that may otherwise be discarded. Additionally, plant-based dairy alternatives increasingly are positioned as more sustainable than conventional milk and yogurt products.
DINING OUT, IN
As consumers crave restaurant quality dishes at home, products positioned as gourmet are filling grocery store shelves. One in four meal kits launched last year featured a “fresh” claim, appealing to the desire for a culinary experience. “Bowl concepts are a strong food service trend that we are increasingly seeing in the supermarket,” Ms. Moreno Torres said. “Younger generations are willing to pay a higher price in exchange for better ingredients.”
Kelp, algae, dulse and wakame appear in a widening assortment of food and beverage products, adding a nutritious twist and umami taste to snacks and meal components. The number of global snack launches with sea vegetables increased by a compound annual growth rate of 19% from 2012 to 2017, according to Innova Market Insights. “This is not just in Asia, where ocean ingredients are a bit more part of the culture, but it’s really all over the world, in Europe, Africa, North America, Latin America,” Ms. Moreno Torres said. Seafood serves as a stand-in for meat in traditional beef or pork dishes, and sea salt in food and beverage products has increased 106% between 2013 and 2017. “Everything that has to do with marine ingredients is gaining a lot of terrain,” Ms. Moreno Torres said.
To appeal to diverse consumer tastes, manufacturers are expanding product portfolios to offer a broader variety of flavor, functionality and packaging. Brands are reinvigorating traditional categories, such as peanut butter or ketchup, with “out of the box” innovation. “Traditionally when we would talk about innovation and market segmentation, we would think about products for female, products for the grandparents, products for the kids,” Ms. Moreno Torres said. “But now more than ever we are seeing a lot of diversification in the portfolio.”
Consumers are seeking smaller doses of decadence, sparking growth of such products as session beers and lightly salted snacks. The number of global savory snack product launches featuring a “thin” claim doubled over the past five years, according to Innova Market Insights. The emergence of enhanced waters containing a hint of flavor adds lighter options to the soft drink market. “This is a reflection of the industry catering to consumers who want to indulge but at the same time are wanting to look after their bodies,” Ms. Moreno Torres said.
SAY IT WITH COLOR
Social media has sparked a frenzy in vibrantly colored foods and beverages, and many bright hues are linked to health, Ms. Moreno Torres said. Beverages tinted with goji berries or turmeric may tout the healing benefits of those ingredients. In North America, food and beverage product launches featuring food colors have grown at a steady rate, as novelty and variety continue to drive purchase intent.
Processing techniques perceived as natural are gaining favor a m o n g c o n s u m e r s who increasingly demand foods with fewer ingredients. “Sprouted,” “raw” and “cold-brew” are among growing claims in global product launches. “Consumers very often have a negative perception of what they consider to be highly processed,” Ms. Moreno Torres said. Companies may use processing claims to convey a premium positioning, she added. An example is a soft drink featuring “steam-distilled botanicals” and fruit juices filtered through silver birch charcoal.
FROM SNACKS TO MINI MEALS
Convenient product launches featuring wholesome ingredients are designed to deliver sustenance on the go. Single portions and snack formats are rising outside of the snack category, filling the role of small meals throughout the day. “We all know that nowadays lifestyles have become so busy that it’s very difficult to properly sit down at a given time of day and have a proper meal or a normal dinner, so to speak,” Ms. Moreno Torres said. Meat snacks accounted for 6% of global snack launches last year, and fruit and vegetable introductions featuring a “snack” claim grew on average 13% annually between 2013 and 2017, according to Innova Market Insights.