Lu Ann Williams

IFT 2016: Top 10 food trends with Innova

Americans increasingly are shifting away from meat in favour of alternatives made from beans, nuts, ancient grains and even jackfruit. A rise in so-called “flexitarian” eating has inspired a wave of innovative new product launches featuring meaty textures, flavours and experiences, said Lu Ann Williams (left), director of innovation at Innova Market Insights, Arnhem, The Netherlands.

“If we look at 10 years ago there was a lot of tofu and a lot of soy, and there were a lot of small niche players who were really focused on this market,” Williams said during a presentation at the Institute of Food Technologists’ annual meeting and food expo, held July 16-19 in Chicago.

“And then about five years ago we saw new sources of proteins starting to emerge, more players entering the market, and the products getting a little more sophisticated, a bit trendier.”

The number of global food and beverage launches featuring a vegetarian claim has increased more than 60% between 2011 and 2015. Vegan launches also rose, accounting for 4.3% of total introductions last year, up from 2.8% in 2014 and 1.5% in 2012.

While the majority of meat substitutes are made with soy or wheat protein, alternative protein ingredients, including egg, pea, ancient grains and nuts, are on the rise, Williams said.

“In the US, there could be more than 120 million people who are considered flexitarians, so it’s an absolutely huge market, and of course much bigger than vegetarians or vegans.”

The rise in part-time vegetarianism and its influence on new product development was one of 10 trends identified by Innova Market Insights during a presentation at IFT.

“Every year we spend about four months with our analysis team trying to figure out what’s happening and what we think is going to have the biggest impact on product development for the next year,” Williams said.

Free from for all

Foods free from gluten, wheat and dairy have moved from niche to norm, with many products appealing to consumers without food allergens. Nearly a third of Americans said they choose gluten-free products because they believe they are healthier, and global gluten-free breakfast cereal launches have more than quintupled since 2011.

“If we look overall at gluten-free claims, 12% of all launches we track are gluten-free, growing 30% year on year,” Williams said. “Lactose-free is only 3% of launches but is also growing quite fast (31% year on year). And we’re seeing some of the bigger manufacturers getting into this as well because it’s a very value-added market.”

Free-from is here to stay, she added.

“I don’t even know that we can necessarily call it a trend anymore,” Williams said. “It’s like clean label. In terms of a trend, maybe it’s just the new reality.”

Processing the ‘natural’ way

High-pressure processing (H.P.P.), fermentation and other processing methods perceived as natural are gaining favour among consumers seeking alternatives to artificial preservatives.

Launches with a fermented claim nearly tripled between 2011 and 2015, and global launches of cold-pressed juices had a compound annual growth rate of 64% in the same time period.

“We see a very bright future for any kind of ‘natural’ process,” Williams said….

Click here for more – a slideshow of the top 10 food trends discussed by Innova Market Insights at IFT