Mintel identifies major trends to impact food industry

By Lorraine Heller in Chicago

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Nutrition Mintel

New ingredients, health and portability are amongst trends that
will impact the US food market within the next five years,
according to Mintel, which presented its findings at the FMI show
on Sunday.

The market researcher used its product tracking data base together with consumer reports to identify 10 key trends in the food industry.

These are focused within two major areas: the new face of wellbeing, and convenience positioning and packaging, said Mintel's director of customs solutions Lynn Dornblaser at the Food Marketing Institute (FMI) trade show in Chicago.

Almost 70 percent of adults in the US are trying to eat healthier foods, according to a recent Mintel survey that examined the diet and exercise attitudes of around 30,000 American consumers.

And while 65 percent of participants said that calories do not count when it comes to eating the foods they like, almost half identified nutritional value as the most important deciding factor in the foods consumed.

The familiar move towards positive nutrition, or adding nutritional benefits to food and drink, took top spot in Mintel's trend list. Examples given of products catering for this trend included Unilever's Promise Buttery Spread with added omega-3 and vitamins B and E, together with General Mills' Yoplait Nouriche Super Smoothie, which contains 20 vitamins and minerals and is positioned for an active lifestyle.

But products are also increasingly being marketed for their inherent goodness, or the benefits already present within the food. This trend can be seen through the launch of vegetable or grain based products, such as Unilever's Knorr Vie vegetable-juice drinks, or Sara Lee's whole grain white bread.

Closely linked to the nutritional qualities of products is the desire to use food as a path to looking and feeling beautiful. Products in this category include those with anti-aging and antioxidant ingredients, such as coenzyme-Q10.

New ingredients are also a key factor when it comes to attracting consumers who are constantly on the look-out for different, exiting ingredients with a variety of benefits. Examples currently include omega-3 and amino acids. Flower essences and chlorophyll have also been used in beverages in Australia and Brazil, while black foods- such as a black vinegar and vegetable drink and a black sesame paste- are emerging from China and Japan.

Trends identified by Mintel in the area of convenience include extreme portability and one-handed eating and drinking, based on the growing numbers of consumers who snack while driving. Products cited include a Japanese single serve yogurt, which is opened and squeezed directly into the mouth, as well as single serve sachets of mayonnaise and ketchup.

Bringing the restaurant experience home is also sought for by busy consumers who want the convenience and quality of eating out brought into their homes. Products that cater for this include Nestlé's microwavable panini sandwiches, as well as Lou's gourmet veal Osso-buco restaurant-style entrée product.

Simple convenience in packaging and preparation was demonstrated through Kraft's new Nabisco Chips Ahoy! in a re-sealable package, as well as through a microwaveable package of sugar snap peas from United Fresh International Blue View.

Consumers are also increasingly looking for products that cater to their specific needs, and this 'just-for-me' trend was demonstrated by Mintel through Canada's Meditarranean Trade Duo Dressing, a salad dressing that can be adjusted to individual tastes.

But although the food market will be largely characterized by these new trends, Mintel's Dornblaser highlighted a number of 'anti-trends' that will continue to be important.

These include products focusing on indulgence rather than on health and wellness; products targeting youths rather than baby-boomers; a focus on slow foods and making meals from scratch as opposed to convenience products; and 'increased Colonialism' or a focus on traditional American tastes rather than ethnic products.

Other major issues due to impact the food industry include the rise in technology, environmentally sustainable packaging and a fundamental shift in the way people shop as a growing number of specialty stores are favored over supermarkets.

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