Junk-free tops Mintels 2008 food trends

By Jess Halliday

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Mintel Food Food additive

Cutting out the junk will be a major for manufacturers in 2008 said
Mintel in its prediction of trends to shape food for the next 12
months, as consumers buy into natural and environmentally-friendly

The food industry has already made headway in removing artificial additives from products. Indeed, data drawn from Mintel's Global New Products Database and communicated in September showed that more than a thousand new food products claiming to be additive- and preservative-free have been launched in the UK this year. This represented almost a quarter of all launches in the UK and nearly three times as many as any other European country. But it is expected that junk-free will be a big Europe-wide issue - especially since the European Food Safety Authority is presently reviewing safety data on all previously approved additives. And ingredients firms have been conducting considerable R&D to come up with alternatives that do not have a negative technical impact, and result in a food that has the sensory properties consumers expect. But onsiderable media attention to the publication of the Southampton study in September, which concluded that there is a connection between certain artificial additives and hyperactivity in children has served to increase consumer mistrust of anything 'unnatural'. This has served to increase the urgency of the matter, and Mintel reinforced the need to take action over artificial ingredients to keep consumers loyal. "While the food industry understands why these ingredients are in our food, consumers do not,"​ it said. Mintel predicts that even more companies will take steps to remove artificial colours, preservatives flavours and "otherwise unknown ingredients" from their products next year, so as to make junk-free claims and have 'clean' labels. It expects that ingredients list "will read more like home recipes than chemists' shopping lists".​ Furthermore, Mintel predicts that manufacturers will put more information on their labels, such as where ingredients come from, how they are manufactured, and how they are packaged. This is all in a bid to be more transparent, and cater to interest in local sourcing and product origins. Indeed, ethical and environmental concerns also figure high in the predictions, with manufacturers changing the way they talk about their carbon footprint. However, rather than making environmental and carbon footprint claims on food products themselves, Mintel expects companies to make them on their websites - where there is considerably more space to explain what they mean. This is because "consumers simply don't know how many miles are too many or what level of carbon footprint is an acceptable one". ​As for Fairtrade food and drink products, these are well established in Europe, but Mintel expects them to start making a splash in other global market too, like the US, Latin America and Asia. Water, water, from everywhere ​ Another facet of the air miles and carbon footprint debate is bottled water. While bottled water has exploded in some markets, such as the US, something of a backlash seems to be in the offing. Consumers are realising that the bottled water they buy may have been shipped from far away. Moreover, bottled water comes in plastic containers which, although recyclable, still have more of an impact than filling a glass from a tap. Although product innovations such as flavoured and functional waters with added bioactive, vitamins and minerals are creating differentiation, the message from Mintel is that if a consumer is just thirsty, they will go to the kitchen sink not the supermarket. Old-fashioned food ​Part of the natural trend involves taking a look back at the way we used to eat, in the days before our food was processed and artificial additives came into play. In this vein, Mintel highlights new interest in ancient grains like amaranth, quinoa, teff, millett and kamut and expects them to move from niche to mainstream markets. "Companies will focus on the whole grain nature of these grains and also on the fact that many are gluten-free,"​ said Mintel. "Expect to see more everyday products appearing with these new, yet old grains."New markets for food ingredients ​ Finally, Mintel said that food ingredient manufacturers could start seeing new opportunities opening up… in non-food products. Increasingly, ingredients like superfruits and natural extracts are turning up in cosmetics and beauty products, and even household cleaning products. "Although not always the case, some food ingredients will maintain their functional benefits in non-food products (eg superfruits and their antioxidant content)."

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