From clean to clear label
Innova's Lu Ann Williams notes a large increase in claims like “natural,” “organic” and “no artificial flavors.” “Just making a claim like this isn’t enough, consumers want to see more,” she says. “Where it comes from, how it’s made, is it good for you? More transparency is becoming more apparent.”
Foodies cooking at home
Williams says she has seen an uptick in ready-made meals that are just a bit more gourmet. Sauces and seasoning are a big part of the movement to cook more creative meals at home, including nontraditional cuisine. At-home cooks are “moving beyond the spice rack,” she says.
Marketing to Millennials
Yes, we’re beating a dead horse here. But no matter how sick of hearing about it you are, restaurateurs simply cannot ignore the necessity to make their brands relevant to Millennials.
Snacks rise to the occasion
Let’s take a look specifically at the breakfast daypart. Williams noted oatmeal is literally everywhere today. “Snackification is a big topic this year,” Williams says, citing the ability of snacks to change the occasion for different products (e.g., a cookie becomes a breakfast cookie).
Good fats, good carbs
“All of a sudden butter was bad and everyone ate margarine and now margarine is bad,” Williams says, in trying to describe the shifting relationship consumers have with fats. She says it’s not as black and white as consumers may think. But what is clear is the importance of labeling and informing consumers—especially Millennials—just what they’re eating.
More in store for protein
While protein has been a hot topic for years, the trend “still has legs,” Williams says. What’s emerging? alternatives to the traditional protein, such as algae products and insects. “At least some companies are testing the water,” she observes.
New routes for fruit
Williams notes many new developments in the fruit space. For one, fruit-based snacks are getting a lot of attention. Also, many products are using fruit as a replacement for synthetic sugars, allowing them to claim “no sugar added.” “Fruit juice is even being used as sugar in cookies,” Williams says. “Look for lots of opportunities to use fruit in new ways.”
A fresh look at frozen
While fresh is great, frozen foods are a great opportunity to offer portionable meals for customers. Williams says she thinks frozen is a great alternative to fresh.
Private label powers on
Store brands “are here to stay,” Williams says. Discount stores likes Aldi and Lidl are now considered to have good-quality products, which offers those on a budget an alternative to dining out.
Rich, chewy, crunchy
Texture is an important driver for taste perception of food and beverages. Crispy is a buzzword, and foods with soft centers and extra crunchy toppings are popular. “Texture is receiving a lot more attention than it had before,” Williams says. “We know now that consumers have a preference for texture, and we think it’s going to get even more attention moving forward.”