At this time of year, food industry pundits spray their readers with nuggets on the directions new products are taking as we stand on the threshold of 2017. We like the Innova Market Insights approach as the company analyses new product introductions during the year to distill common attributes of products that indicate a change or reinforcement in market direction seen across the globe. What’s on their trends to watch list for 2017?:
- “Clean Supreme” – clean and clear ingredient labels with total supply chain transparency where natural rather than artificial, environmental/animal welfare and other social aspects are integral to the product. “The Green Bar” is being inexorably raised and manufacturers have to earn the right to produce. Good social behaviour is simply expected and doesn’t receive a price premium, rather it carries a discount if not provided;
- “Disruptive Green” – the galloping advancement of plant-based ingredients reminding the meat and dairy industries that consumers have a much wider view now of what constitutes protein in food or milk in drinks. Seeds go mainstream. Big Food is on to it – e.g. Danone shelling out billions for WhiteWave and Tyson and General Mills buying in to plant protein start-ups;
- “Sweet Balance” – sugar is demonised but our sweet tooth prevails providing burgeoning opportunities for natural sweeteners such as stevia;
- “Kitchen Symphony” – home cooking moves up a notch driven by endless cooking shows, media attention and consumer desire for fulfilment and family/peer praise! Authentic cuisine, “what sort of Italian/Chinese”, artisanal/local/heritage ingredients – it’s cool to be knowledgeable about food;
- “Body in Tune” – we’re not quite at DNA-profiling for My Diet, but “what’s good for me/my family’s body and well-being” is an increasingly important driver of purchase;
- “Affordable Indulgence” – irrespective of how tough things are, we deserve a treat and, what’s more, we want the proper premium one not the ersatz. Yummy taste and status but within budget!;
- “Horses for Courses and Fuzzy Borders” – is the occasion a snack, mini-meal, regular or special meal? We need food product formats to be in-tune with our specific and immediate needs. What’s the job of the food product for each occasion – reward, on-the-go snack, impress the guest? Flexitarian diets flourish – meat and vegetarian options are interchangeable;
- “Cool Kids Food” – more adventuresome children’s food with better nutritional balance (e.g. “frushi” – fruit sushi – looks good and is fun food).
Reassuringly, irrespective of product category, there are recurring themes emanating from this years trendfest. Here’s what Cargill Cocoa and Chocolate Division think are the key drivers in the chocolate confectionery market:
- Indulgent: flavours – chocolate and vegetable combinations, building on chili, the irrepressible kale finds a place in our 2017 chocolate treats, and beetroot features alongside chocolate in cakes; texture – bigger chunks, and crispy chocolate layers; colour – cocoa powder in various shades (red through black) to add depth;
- Premium: provenance/origin/where manufactured, artisan links (pushing big players to acquire trendy, successful start-ups at astonishing multiples!), type of processing (e.g. stone-ground, slow-churned);
- Healthy: avoiding the perceived “unhealthy” (e.g. palm oil) and seeking the “healthy” (e.g. organic, coconut milk) and a focus on “-free” – gluten/HFCS/lactose) and removing guilt through protein enrichment and claims of healthy snacking;
- Sustainable and Clean: even more of where the food comes from and who grew the ingredients (real farmers or factory farmers?) and what are the environmental and social impacts ? – supported by 3rd party accreditation and web links to see at first hand. Short ingredient lists with natural products to colour and flavour and real fruit, vegetables and plant extracts.