The trend for sodium reduction will remain strong for at least another 10 years, and the solutions need to be ‘natural’, says the director of food industry with Univar.
Speaking with FoodNavigator-USA about top trends for 2013, Univar’s Rick Richards noted that sodium reduction strategies need to ensure that there is “no extension of the food label”.
Top trends for 2013 will follow 2012, with clean label and ‘natural’, reduced sugar, reduced sodium, fortification with fiber, calcium, protein, and omega-3 remaining strong.
A lack of new trends is “maybe related to the economy” in combination with “manufacturers being more conservative”, said Richards.
The continuing increase in diabetes statistics in many US states will contribute to a demand for stevia, and sugar reduction ingredients, but he said that he was surprised by the delay in stevia-containing products.
“The problem so far with stevia is the cost and the flavor adjustments. Manufacturers are getting smarter and it a product doesn’t taste as good or better as the original then they are not going to market.”
Echoing statements from other stevia suppliers , Richards said he expects to see a lot more stevia-containing product launches in the future.
In addition to replacing less desirable ingredients like sugar and salt, Richards said he expects that fortification with fiber, omega-3s, protein, and calcium will continue to be important.
“Fiber will remain strong, but there are only certain products that you add fiber to in sufficient quantities to make a claim. I expect to see fiber added in smaller amounts to a lot more products without making a claim.”
Omega-3 fortification has slowed down in recent times, he said, but it was now coming back “as consumers become more educated”.
Natural/ clean label
Richards does not expect concerns over labeling products as ‘natural’ given recent high-profile class actions to slow consumer demand for cleaner labels, but he thinks that the industry will “move away from ‘natural’”.
“A cleaner label suggests a more natural product,” he observed.
One particular set of ingredients where ‘natural’ still has some distance to travel is for preservatives. Currently, ‘natural’ preservatives are not cost-effective, he said.
“We’re getting there and there’s potential for enzymes and fermented products.”
While many of the trends for 2013 are continuations of 2012’s trends, the trend of younger people wanting to eat fresh or minimally processed food is fairly new and will remain strong, he added.