The top trend, simplicity, reflects consumers’ growing preference for products made with fewer, easy-to-understand ingredients and a transparent label as highlighted by Datamonitor. “This expansion in what consumers generally consider “healthy” is changing the face of new product launches, carrying with it the growth of the natural products category,” said the panel.
Dave Tuchler, Tate & Lyle’s global vice president, Marketing, Innovation and Commercial Development, said: “As the simplicity trend accelerates, it is crucial for manufacturers to understand consumers’ desires for easy-to-understand ingredients, such as soluble corn fiber and crystalline fructose, when formulating foods and beverages.”
Trend two: Stealth sugar and calorie reductions, reflects both health and economy. Craig Donaldson, vice president, Sucralose Product Management, Specialty Food Ingredients, said: “By custom blending ingredients with a higher sweetness profile, the end result is a product with less sugar, less calories and 100 percent of the taste without the risk of increasing manufacturing costs that would occur by using sugar. It’s a win-win on all accounts.”
Mathew Kaleel, co-founder and portfolio manager at H3 Global Advisors, warned that sugar prices could soar 30-40 percent above current levels over the next 12-18 months.
Manufacturers can reduce sugar, calories and manufacturing costs by blending sweeteners, such as Splenda Sucralose with sucrose, said the company.
Trend three: One product with multiple benefits, highlights consumers’ preference for foods and beverages with a range of value-added elements. This offers manufacturers the ability to differentiate their products in a competitive market.
For example, manufacturers can formulate a product to provide a digestive health benefit while simultaneously reducing calories without compromising on taste.
Paul Cornillon, global applications vice president, Specialty Food Ingredients, commented: “A deep understanding of what health issues are of concern to consumers and how manufacturers can communicate claims are important to developing a product that provides multiple nutritional benefits, and meeting both quality standards and taste preferences.”
Trend four: Restaurant quality at home, reflects manufacturers’ opportunity to build brand loyalty by recreating the restaurant experience with bold and creative flavors while allowing consumers to watch their pocket books. Applications such as at-home meal kits and microwaveable meals will allow manufacturers to differentiate their products in this area.
Jim Miller, North America vice president of Sales, Specialty Food Ingredients, said:
“The key to re-creating the restaurant meal at home is incorporating the right blend of food starches and stabilizers that are synergistic with the other ingredients in the meal.”
Meanwhile, when the company first conducted this survey three years ago, budget and health were among the main consumer preferences targeted by US food manufacturers.
Other trends for 2009 included: Functional ingredients and reduced calories.