In this article
Global food trends explained
 5 min read

Each year, Innova Market Insights identifies ten top trends from its ongoing analysis of global developments in food and drink launches. Eight of this year’s ten trends are related to health. Suppliers and manufacturers are looking towards adding value in traditionally staple categories. They focus on the artisanal nature of certain goods or highlight the sourcing. “Marketing to Millennials" was a key trend in 2015 and has now become part of a broad strategy for manufacturers. The ten new trends are explained below.

1 Organic growth for clean label

Clear label products, in addition to clean label products, continue to top the agenda. Clear label includes transparent production chains and identifiable origin products and also include clean label ingredients such as ‘from grandma’s cupboard’. Of all clear label  products, the number with ‘organic’ or ‘GMO free’ positioning is growing fastest. There is a continuous debate about actual health benefits and sustainability advantages of organic products which influences consumers. The benefits of genetic modification technologies are also part of this discussion. Consumers are likely to demonstrate their decisions with their money.

2 Free-From for all

Recently, some product launches are advertising ingredients that they do not contain, rather than highlighting what they do. Most consumers don’t actually need products that are free from gluten, wheat or dairy, but they are demanding them anyway. The recent demand for mainstream gluten free products has been incredible. As a result, other ‘Free -From’ platforms are gaining traction as well. New topics will be free from animal ingredients, GMO-Free, allergen-free or fructose-free.

3 The “Flexitarian” effect

Just a fraction of the population in western markets is vegetarian, but the number of consumers who eat less meat is growing. These flexible vegetarians, so called flexitarians, reduce their meat consumption for reasons of health, sustainability or animal welfare. They can be more critical than vegetarians or vegans. They often desire products that taste great and are similar to meat, which further drives innovation.

Flexitarians desire better tasting vegetarian alternatives that are more similar to meat.

4 Processing the natural way

Old processes, such as pasteurisation and fermentation, are perceived as natural and easier to understand than modern processes, which are perceived as artificial. When new processes are used, consumers need to be educated on the benefits of new processes to achieve consumer acceptance and avoid the food being considered as ‘Frankenfood’.

5 Green light for vegetables

The low consumer intake of vegetables, despite continuous policy recommendations, can be seen as an exciting opportunity for creative manufacturers. Consumers know that they need to eat more greens, but shy away because they have bland taste expectations. Children can be encouraged to eat more through hidden vegetable products and adults are buying more fusion smoothies and high vegetable pastas.

6 Creating a real link

The rise of the Millennial consumer has led to a growth in marketing the stories behind brands. There are increasing calls for a back to basics approach to re-establish links with “real” food. “Real” is about telling a story about where the product comes from and this goes beyond certification alone. Consumers want to know that the product is local, sustainably sourced, created by well-treated and well-paid workers, or if it comes from a distant land. Staple foods from a specific region have a marketing advantage over generic staples.

7 Small players, big ideas

Big companies used to have a few major competitors, but now they have hundreds of small ones. Many of these small companies specialize in one thing that they do very well, which attracts the Millennial consumers. Small companies are able to bring ideas to market much quicker than big companies, because they are less restricted in their development process. Often, small companies inspire the big companies, who copy them or buy them out altogether.

8 Beyond the athlete

The niche market of sports nutrition for bodybuilders, elite athletes and fitness fanatics is saturated in western markets. However, sports nutrition components such as protein and energy ingredients can be beneficial for everyone. Therefore, sports nutrition manufacturers are expanding into new categories and major food and drink manufacturers are launching products that were previously seen as the athlete’s domain.

9 The indulgence alibi

Some categories such as desserts and chocolate, cannot be branded as healthy. But health conscious consumers do want to justify consuming a product purely for pleasure and look for an excuse. For example, a classic “indulgence alibi” can be the wholesome or natural quality of ingredients. Another opportunity is to create smaller, but still highly indulgent treats.

10 Tastes for new experiences

Well-travelled and highly adventurous consumers are looking for very specific and authentic products from all corners of the globe. Their curious flavour palate is open to trying out new taste experiences. This includes combining apparently non-complementary flavours in a single bite, or opening up to unusual textural ideas through layered flavours. Creative marketing and the development of 3D printing are just two platforms driving this innovative trend.

Want to get more information about this topic?
Get in touch
Contact person:
Lu-Ann Williams
Director of Innovation at Innova Market Insights
Inova Market Insights

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