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Butter, portion control, tart cherries and stevia. Welcome to 2012

By Elaine Watson, 06-Jan-2012

Related topics: Natural sweeteners, Sodium reduction, Sustainable sourcing, Food labeling and marketing, Markets

Forget goji berries and noni juice. Tart cherries, blueberries and other more familiar fruits are likely to trump their exotic cousins in 2012 as shoppers tire of Orac-tastic superfruits, according to trend watcher Hartman Group.

In its new report ‘Looking Ahead: Food Culture 2012’, the consultancy says: Consumers are raising a skeptical brow at exotic fruits from afar, touting super-extreme antioxidant levels…

“The all-American cherry and its tart juices are proving a new favorite among athletes and health-focused consumers …”

Rather than powdered out-of-season exotic fruits with “functional overtones”, expect to see a “wider variety of local berries and tree fruits such as cherry varietals, from the tart Montmorency to the dark, sweet Bing, show up in beverages, baked goods and snack foods”, predicts the report.

“All are high in antioxidants and smack of seasonality and the regional sense of place consumers are increasingly looking for.”

It also predicts increasing skepticism towards “overtly scientific” functional foods with more focus on general health and wellbeing, food quality and minimal processing.

Protein and fiber

We can also expect to see more snacks containing naturally-occurring protein and fiber from beans, pulses, nuts and seeds, rather than added soy and whey protein, and inulin, it suggests.

Meanwhile, the love affair with soy will continue to cool as shoppers seek alternative sources of vegetable protein, predicts the report.

As for gluten-free, one of the fastest growing areas of the grocery market, expect to see a little more circumspection from non-celiac shoppers who start to realize that gluten-free doesn’t necessarily mean healthier, it says.

“Eventually, consumers will realize you don’t need to be gluten-free to avoid processed carbs.

“In the meantime, be sure gluten- free offerings consist of real foods from authentic gluten free traditions (Vietnamese rice noodles, Italian polenta, Indian poppadums) rather than mimic products consumers will only compare against the real thing.

“This will ensure your product lasts beyond the gluten-free mania.”

Butter is in, margarine is out

Finally, the report makes a wave of predictions on trends within very specific categories:

What’s trending out?

And what's trending in?