Innova - traceability

Innova’s top food-bev trends for 2014: waste reduction and regaining trust

The latest trends impacting the food industry include moves to reduce the huge amount of food waste, as consumers simultaneously adapt their habits in times of continuing austerity. These trends come as the industry focuses on regaining consumer trust, following a year of negative headlines, says Innova in launching its annual list of top food-bev trends for the year ahead.

Innova Market Insights’ Top 10 Trends list is the culmination of ongoing analysis of trends and developments in new product launch activity worldwide. The market researcher continues to be successful with its annual trend predictions. For example, “Sustainability Replaces Organic” (2007), “Go Natural” (2008) and “Boom for Protein” (2012), all still have a significant bearing on the global industry today.

Highlights from the 2014 top 10 food and beverage trends list are:

1. Waste Not Want Not: For some time now manufacturers’ sustainability efforts have been zeroed in on, with a more recent shift in focus being to reduce food loss or waste, wherever possible. Food loss during production and food waste at the retailer and consumer end of the food-supply chain will be heavily scrutinised. Ingredients derived from the waste stream will also hold enormous potential.

2. You Can Trust Us: Recent food safety scares and scandals have crippled consumer confidence. Companies have their work cut out in order to regain consumer trust. Ingredient origin will be used as a marketing tool. The consumer should ultimately benefit from higher quality foods that are clearly traceable.

“Traceability is high on the agenda and manufacturers are actively marketing this to consumers. For example, global product launch activity featuring the word ‘origin’ for claims purposes increased by 45% for the first half of 2013 compared to the second half of 2012, with further growth anticipated,” says Lu Ann Williams, director of Innovation at Innova Market Insights.

“Among the leading market sub-categories responsible for this growth are cheese, chocolate and coffee,” she adds.

3. Simpler Pleasures: Consumers are reassessing their needs and going back to basics, by finding more pleasure in simpler food. There has been a shift towards home cooking, with food bringing family and friends together. Where consumers shop has also been affected, with the so-called “hourglass model,” still in effect. This relates to growth on the budget and premium sides, but the centre ground being squeezed.

Value packaging and “good value” claims on the products themselves and in-store value promotions are prospering.

4. Look Out for the Small Guy: Small innovators are rising to the challenge, with the development of high quality and distinct products that have small-scale appeal, but big trend potential. Social media platforms have provided more opportunities for small companies to develop a market by directly targeting niches across their home market and abroad.

5. Health is More Holistic: Nutrition is getting closer to being truly recognised as the answer to healthcare budget crises around the globe. Some big food manufacturers are looking to all areas of health for a more holistic approach in providing nutritious food and beverage solutions to consumers.

Clinical nutrition is being eyed as a highly profitable platform along with health alternatives, such as Traditional Chinese Medicine.

6. “New” Superfoods: Nature’s own functional foods: fruits, vegetables and grains are being revisited. The revival of heirloom vegetables such as parsnips, artichokes, kale and salsify and the rediscovery of new ancient grains such as freekeh and chia, riding on quinoa’s success, are indicative of going back to the future for health.

7. Rise of the Hybrid: New product innovation is pushing boundaries more than ever before with the development of new product concepts altogether, making product categorisation a challenge. Cross-branding from apparently unrelated brands is also becoming more prevalent, along with the use of unique flavour combinations.

8. The Protein Horizon: New product development concerning protein continues to go from strength to strength, with protein claims evident in a wide variety of foods and beverages. The dairy category has been the main beneficiary, with yoghurt, and more specifically Greek yoghurt, being the catalyst. The addition of high levels of protein to certain products has attracted more male attention to some market categories.

9. New Stealth Strategies: Industry moves to steadily reduce the sugar, salt and saturated fat contents of products is not slowing down, but is actually gaining momentum. The notion of whether to take a stealth or health approach to marketing is a key issue for manufacturers, while maintaining a clean label being another side issue for consideration.

10. Alternative Alternatives: The “free from” food movement has resulted in the evolution of other alternatives to the standard choices for allergy conscious new product development. New competition for soy includes coconut milk, nut and grain milks, while there is activity on the horizon for new gluten-free flours.