Premium tops 2008 trend list

By Lorraine Heller

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Consumers Nutrition

The overarching trend that will continue to dominate the
marketplace in 2008 is the consumer quest for premium, according to
a recent report by the Hartman Group.

The report identifies five trends for the year ahead that are set to impact the food and beverage market. Premium ​ First and foremost, says Hartman, is a pursuit for brands, products and experiences of a higher quality. "Regardless of demographic, consumers will continue, in growing numbers, to pursue premium products and experiences far beyond the foreseeable future. Consumers no longer feel a need to justify premium, they expect it and feel they deserve it,"​ said Hartman. As a result, the marketplace has seen consumers upgrading to premium on a regular basis. These changes include choosing foods with distinctive flavors or unique ingredients. "Nearly all consumers now eat special occasion foods everyday." Digestion, Energy, Immunity ​Formerly "fringe"​ ingredients such as hemp, agave and kombucha now appeal to consumers interested in wellness, according to the report. This is partly a result of globalization and a resulting spread of multicultural foods and wellness rituals throughout consumer markets. Consumers opting for these types of ingredients are often trying to address health and wellness issues focused on digestion, sustained energy and immunity, said Hartman. For example, the consumption of hemp reflects today's consumer concerns about getting enough fiber, protein, achieving satiety, getting a balance of essential fatty acids and reducing inflammation in the body, it said. New approaches to eating ​Other growing trends that are impacting consumer choices and market direction include a rise of ethical considerations, a growing sustainability consciousness, and an increased focus on 'unprocessed foods'. These have directed consumers to new approaches to eating, according to Hartman. "Notably, we see a growing interest among consumers in eating as 'locavores', in 'free-from' eating, or in dining on 'raw' - all of which address consumer interests in community, consciousness and an increased quality of life,"​ said the group. "Expect to see elements of these new approaches to eating increasingly capture the interest of mainstream consumers soon." ​ An example in this field is the way 'free-from' eaters often avoid foods that they perceive as causing adverse food reactions or have undergone a particular process such as genetic modification or over-processing. Commonly avoided foods include wheat, gluten, corn, soy, dairy, potatoes, and peanuts. Health issues ​Weight management, blood sugar regulation and digestive health remain the main health concerns of today's consumers. This has inspired "progressive ways, new techniques and ideas"​ that consumers are experimenting with to manage these issues, said the report. Portion control and overall healthful eating are adopted by consumers wanting to address these issues. They also use the glycemic index as a way to control blood sugar. In addition, the most active 'wellness consumers' views a healthy digestive system as important, and they often opt for foods containing probiotics, digestive enzymes and fiber. Supplements ​According to the report, multi-vitamins, vitamin C and calcium are likely to be top of mind for the average consumer, both from food sources and dietary supplements. The focus will be on those nutrition sources that address healthy aging, balanced energy and inflammation, said Hartman.

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