This blog post is part of the 'Future trends' series of the KATANA Accelerator: a EU-funded platform for promising entrepreneurs who want to co-create the future of agri & food business. Visit the KATANA website for a complete overview of articles in the 'Future trends' series.
Innova Market Insights identified the Top Trends for 2017 from its ongoing analysis of key global developments in food and drink product launches worldwide. Health seems to be a stand-out element once again this year. We see a consumer push towards clean labelling and healthy options with a heightened awareness of the farm to fork dynamic and food waste.
This healthy, natural trend first made the list in 2008, and has continued to secure its place in the ‘Top 10’ ever since. Nowadays, it’s about cleaner formulations, more transparency and using new, milder processing technologies. It is also about avoiding ingredients that have negative perceptions around them like palm oil, fat, sugar & salt. Consumers are now, more than ever, tuned into what they are purchasing and eating. The next generation of consumers wants to make informed, conscious decisions.
Plants are ‘in’ right now. New product launches with plant-based claims have gone up almost seven times since 2011 and are now considered ‘mainstream’. Plant-based milk and meat alternatives are all showing strong market growth. This growth has led to exciting new product innovations in the space to keep up with demand. Seaweed is also one to watch for the coming year and beyond; producers are finding new applications for it in Western markets due to its wide-ranging health benefits.
New scientific findings and consumer concerns about sugar intake are driving innovations in new product development. Food companies are faced with the challenge of meeting the consumer’s requirements while still creating indulgent experiences and presenting a clean label. The use of natural sweeteners is growing with new ingredients emerging. Food producers need to consider their alternatives to sugar with the looming sugar tax.
Ethnic flavours are still popular among today’s consumers, even with very young children. “Highly-authentic” foods using specific ethnic ingredients based on global influences are thriving, especially in North America and Europe. Thai, Indian and Mexican are some of the most popular international flavours. The connected/globalised world we live in means that at the click of a button consumers see food images being posted by friends all over the world. This creates a desire to experience these authentic cuisines. Worldwide food producers are picking up on these needs and meeting them with creative food innovations.
Body in tune
Personalised nutrition is on the rise. Consumers are interested in the way food makes them feel. From carbs that cause bloating to proteins that give a boost in energy: they want food that will make them feel better. Consumers are in an experimental phase, trying ‘Free From’ foods and diets like ‘Paleo’ & ‘low FODMAP’. With celebrity endorsement for these trends, it seems consumers are following their instincts and finding what works best for them.
The craft trend is still attractive to consumers. From craft beer to “carefully crafted” mayo, the idea of having foods produced as simply and as close to the farm as possible has been gaining steam in the last few years. This development is changing the way people think about the foods they eat. According to the Innova Insights report, consumers are willing to pay that little bit more for an indulgent product offering momentary escapism.
Capturing the Moment
More products are targeting specific eating occasions, from food ‘on- the-go’ to using a certain product to create a time for some ‘indulgence’. This trend also hit the sports sector with products being created to be consumed by athletes before, during or after exercise. Food manufactures are targeting specific consumption occasions to meet consumers’ needs in an increasingly crowded consumer schedule. Words like ‘breakfast’, ‘lunch’, snack’, ‘gym’ etc. are being used to fit into their busy week.
Beyond pester power
There has been a shift in recent years from children pestering Mom and Dad for unhealthy treats in the supermarket. They are becoming influencers in the home and are more open to trying new and healthier foods. Their palates are expanding and so are their interests, specifically in cooking, and food companies are taking notice. Within this current revolution in food, producers must consider how this affects their brand and products.
Product boundaries are becoming more blurred. Completely new product groups and categories are arising to meet the demand of adventurous consumers. This means that products are being created that are difficult to pin down into one category. Ready-to-drink coffee is being blended with almond milk; smoothies are incorporating energy ingredients as are dairy drinks. And the borders between afternoon snacks, breakfast foods, and pre/post-workout drinks are becoming fuzzy.
Seeds of change
Seeds and grains are getting their moment in the spotlight. Ingredients like chia and quinoa have paved the way for seeds. These products provide a natural source of flavour and texture and the very ‘on trend’ high protein content. Hemp is making inroads in new product development while already popular seed varieties are penetrating existing products like soft drinks. Health claims surrounding the consumption of seeds and grains are in large supply and consumers are looking to benefit from their choices.
Adapted from the Innova Markets Insights report ‘Top 10 Trends for 2017’ .