In November last year, we named five key trends that would characterise the global food and ingredient markets in 2012. With a changing economic climate and complex consumer expectations, how have these trends fared and what are the emerging trends that will drive the market next year and beyond?
1. A New Frugality - changing consumer behaviour - Consumers are definitely becoming more considered when it comes to spending - as seen outside the industry with price comparison websites and a raft of new smartphone apps that offer comparison information on everything from price to nutritional content (Recent example: Phil Lempert's Smarter Shopping app - US). This trend has also facilitated another fast emerging trend of Multi-functionality, where creating the right mix of benefits to appeal to consumers can provide more reasons to buy.
2. Healthy alternatives - 2012 has seen a rise in healthier versions of existing branded products and more messages on packaging claiming low fat, low salt, low sugar, wholegrains and no added colours, flavours, preservatives.
3. Flavour trend: Mexican - Developments within this key flavour trend have included a dedicated dining range in UK multiple retailer Sainsbury's, the ‘real Mexican’ restaurant Wahaca opening a new temporary restaurant in London in recycled shipping containers, and General Mills’ Old El Paso brand launching a 'milder' version of fajita kits to broaden appeal.
4. Home Advantage - a taste of home - This has been seen in the UK with a renewed focus on British flavours with a twist. There have been a host of limited edition products in the UK to tie in with the Diamond Jubilee and London 2012 Olympics - recent example: Müller Fruit Corner 'British Classics' collection based on classic British desserts, and the Heston Blumenthal range of British cuisine with a twist in Waitrose. As is already evident in countries such as France, Spain, Germany and the US - where national food and flavours are highly promoted - we see this trend developing to ‘re-imagine’ classic national dishes.
5. Future Now - technology foodies - Despite testing economic times, consumer appetite for new formats, related technology and eating experiences shows no sign of abating. Notable developments we have observed so far include: interactive food packaging linking via smartphone to online content (as used by Weetabix UK, and US foodservice company Taco Bell for its PepsiCo Doritos taco), a rise in brands using social media to crowdsource opinion for new flavours (recent example: Nestlé UK Kit Kat Chunky flavours promotion - 6 new flavours launched, consumers invited to elect new flavour for permanent range on Facebook) and a development of the accountability and community trend, as consistently demonstrated by Innocent Drinks UK.
What are the emerging food and drink trends for 2013 and beyond?
Multi-functionality will continue to develop as consumer demands and expectations for food become more complex. Increasingly, the key to success will lie in a manufacturer’s ability to decipher and appeal to the correct ‘mix’ of desirable benefits, rather than a single reason to buy.
Healthier versions of popular products will become the focus rather than specific diet foods, allowing consumers to eat what they enjoy while still observing a balanced diet. (Recent example: nutritionally-balanced pizzas from Eat Balanced (UK)
Gourmet convenience - using pre-prepared fresh ingredients to create restaurant-quality meals at home and utilising faster cooking methods - will continue to grow in appeal. Consumers will expect the convenient food products they buy to be added-value convenience: more nutritionally balanced, contain more ‘natural’ ingredients and provide more reasons to buy. (Recent example: Steve's Leaves UK deli salads range.)
Natural balance - interest in better balanced diets will continue to grow. Salads, meals and smoothies which contain beneficial nuts, seeds, oils, proteins and complex carbohydrates will be in demand. Alkaline grains, such as millet, amaranth, buckwheat and sprouted grains, together with grain-like quinoa, mixed with balanced natural ingredients to improve nutritional content and increase satiety will rise in popularity. (Recent example: the ‘Buddha bowl’ principle from US writer and food campaigner Kris Carr’s ‘Crazy Sexy Diet’.) Convenient products which feature this mix of ingredients could be an opportunity to tap into this emerging trend.
Big, bold flavours - this trend has already been seen in the ‘flavour experiences’ trend but will develop to include umami notes, bold flavour combinations and intense new flavours from around the world - partly influenced by the rise of gourmet food trucks established in the US and emerging in Europe. This trend will also help address issues of loss of flavour as manufacturers reformulate products with less salt, saturated fats and sugar. (Recent example: Umamicatessen - US deli restaurant concept based around umami flavours.)
For more information on current and future trends in food and drink, see our trend reports: