The top 10 trends to watch for next year include fresh and organic, superfruits, bold flavors, and probiotics beyond yogurts, according to Datamonitor's Productscan database.
The market analyst looks into its crystal ball and has identified the top trends in packaged foods for the New Year. Topping the list are new applications for probiotics, organic food for kids, and bold flavors for aging taste buds.
As we age, our senses of smell and taste can start to diminish and this is being translated into consumers demanding hotter, spicier and bolder flavors, says Datamonitor.
This is already been measured in the market place with increased sales of hot and spicy salsas. Indeed, Datamonitor's Productscan Online notes a doubling of the word "spicy" for new foods and beverages between 2003 and 2006.
"Look for bold flavors to pop up in brand new areas," states Datamonitor. "It's already happening in Portugal where Adagio Moments Yogurt Drink was launched in a spicy flavor earlier this year with a blend of chocolate chips, strawberries and chili peppers."
Sales are also reportedly on the up for bolder cheeses, with retail sales of blue cheese rose 6.3 percent in 2006 according to the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board.
Organic food for younger people is also predicted to burst into the mainstream. This is spurred on by growing controversy over marketing practices involved in selling foods aimed at children.
"Organic product makers are just beginning to aggressively target the kids' market," stated Datamonitor.
The advent of UK's Tesco's numerous Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market convenience stores in the West Coast of the USA is eyed as a reinvention of the convenience store as the destination for fresh food.
"While it is too early to judge how Tesco's effort is going, "fresh" is indeed hot," states the market analyst.
"The number of new food products launched in the USA that either use or are designed to use steam as a cooking method tripled between 2005 and 2007, according to Productscan Online," it added.
A taste of the exotic
The market analyst is predicting a move from health and natural food stores to the mainstream for high nutrient "superfruits" like acai, goji berries, noni and even pomegranates.
"Look for "superfruits" to go mainstream in 2008 as larger companies begin to get into the game," states the market analyst.
Also expected to make a breakthrough, it says, is the yumberry - the subtropical fruit originally from China, but now being hailed worldwide for its high antioxidant content and cranberry-like flavor.
The fruit is already creeping onto shelves, particularly in the US. A range of drinks from Frutzzo Natural Juice including Yumberry Cherry and Yumberry Pomegranate blends is already available.
Another growth area that taps in to increased interest in exotic and ethnic tastes, will see an influx of African ingredients into food and cosmetics. Ingredients like shea butter, baobab oil, and hot peppers are to be found in both industries.
The analyst also expects an increase in interest for flavors from North Africa like couscous
The health focus
Probiotics, the friendly bacteria producing healthy benefits for gut health, are set to burst from the chilled yogurt counter to the mainstream. Already in cheese with Kraft LiveActive Cheese, the signs are there that the bugs will soon be coming to a chocolate bar near you, says Datamonitor.
"Chocolate supplier Barry Callebaut is out with new technology that enables the creation of a probiotic chocolate bar," states the market analyst.
Currently leading the way in probiotics is Dannon's Activia yogurt that achieved more than $150 million in first year sales in the USA.
Procter & Gamble is also jumping on the probiotic bandwagon with its new Align Daily Probiotic Supplement.
Also tapping into the health trend are products offering a healthy crunch to make up for reduced fat and calories. Indeed, the number of worldwide new product reports touting "crunchy" or "crispy" tastes doubled between 2002 and 2006, according to Datamonitor's Productscan Online database of new products.
The growing body of evidence linking sleeping habits and obesity is offering opportunities for formulators to tap into the market for sleep aids and stress-relieving products that promote sleep.
The market analyst is expecting an increase in the use of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), the amino acid lauded for its stress relieving properties. The US rights to the ingredient were recently secured by Jones Soda and a new beverage formulated with the ingredient is expected.
A new milk from cows milked at the break of dawn and is naturally high in melatonin is making waves in Japan (Nakazawa Adult Milk).
The range of applications using caffeine is tipped to grow. In 2007 alone, the ingredient has been formulated into mints, potato chips, jellybeans and even instant oatmeal.
Getting creative with green production
More creative and environmentally friendly ways of producing packaged foods are also expected to become more widespread. This trend is taking hold around the world, states Datamonitor.
The market analyst cites the use of wind power to ferment Into Limetti (lime) long drink in Finland. Also, UK-based Stongate Farmers is using wind and solar electricity to power its farms producing eggs from free range eggs.
Also mentioned is Procter & Gamble's Pur Flavor Options that enables consumers to flavor water as it comes out of the tap. This is designed to avoid the waste associated with bottled water.