Gamble explained that the sources of these trends aren’t just stripped from glossy market research reports or online consumer surveys. Instead Campbell’s culinary experts explore what’s new in food by venturing outside the four walls of their test kitchen and diving into the local food scene, talking to chefs, and trying different cuisines.
“There’s trendspotting happening everywhere. We constantly have that food antenna up,” Gamble told FoodNavigator-USA.
Gamble works directly with Campbell’s product development and R&D team to ensure that trends that could one day be a Campbell’s product are brought to life.
“There’s lots of trends out there but we really need to look at mainstream appeal for the brands that we work on and how they relate most to us,” she said.
For 2019, Campbell’s is keeping an eye on six trends that explore new ingredients and cuisines to all-day dining and shifting eating occasions.
Gamble noted that a deeper push into plant-based eating - particularly adding more vegetables into the everyday diet - was a common thread for the Campbell’s top 6 trends for 2019.
“We all know that we need to eat more vegetables, it’s finding those new and creative twists that’s what gets me very excited. I think what’s cool and exciting is that we’re seeing this surge of vegetables, but we’re also seeing them surfacing in unique ways. The vegetables become the vehicle to deliver these new and exciting experiences, flavors, textures,” Gamble added.
“It’s such a world that we’ve only scratched the surface on.”
1. Modern mushrooms
Technically a fungus, but considered a vegetable for nutritional and culinary purposes, according to Gamble, there’s renewed excitement around mushrooms and their different varieties.
“The renewed fascination is due to factors including: a newfound love for humble supermarket veggies; a rising appreciation for their potential medicinal value; and their prized place at the table in trending plant-based and flexitarian diets. Overall, what our chefs are seeing is a rising opportunity to celebrate mushrooms in creative ways,” Campbell’s stated its 2019 trends report.
How is Campbell’s getting in on the trend? According to Gamble, the CPG company updated its iconic brand Campbell’s ‘cream of mushroom’ soup to include new varieties of mushrooms in its ‘cream of cremini and shiitake’ mushroom soup.
“Ultimately we want to fit it into our consumers’ everyday world,” Gamble said.
2. North African flavors
Campbell’s has been following the slow rise of North African cuisine (think fiery Harissa chili paste, piri piri, berbere spice, and teff) since 2015 and predicts that 2019 will be the trend’s breakout year.
“We’re excited for more modern interpretations of North African flavors at restaurants, like cauliflower tagines, artisan couscous, spiced tomato sauces, “black” and “rose” harissa, and mint tea. We’re also expecting a revived interest in flatbreads from the region, French menus with North African influences, and a further blurring of Middle Eastern/Mediterranean/North African flavors and ingredients on US menus,” the company said.
3. All-day dining
As consumers are eating at all hours of the day swapping out three large square meals for a series of mini meals, casual all-day dining in the form of more on-the-go and convenient products will continue to rise.
“Mealtimes are blurring and people are demanding meals that suit any hour of day, and any level of hunger,” Campbell's said.
Gamble added that Campbell’s launch of its ‘Well Yes’ sippable soups brand is one interpretation of this trend.
The all-day dining trend is also an opportunity to rethink how to introduce to vegetables at all parts of the day, Gamble added.
“When you looked at those blurred lines, what people are eating for breakfast may not be what they were eating for breakfast a few years ago, but they’re looking to incorporate overall healthier things and vegetables are at the center of that,” she said.
“For us, it’s a great opportunity to look at all of our products and how they could fit into different parts of the day and maybe be featured as a convenient on-the-go solution.”
4. Next level texture
A more complex, layered approach to texture is underway as people are seeking ’multi-sensational’ taste experience, according to Campbell’s.
“We’re seeing unique texture combos in snacks and treats, though authentic global eats – from chewy noodles to crunchy rice– are inspiring savory texture trends too,” the company noted.
“Next level texture is something that I’m continuously curious how this will shape up. As chefs we know that people eat with all their senses and texture is an important factor,” Gamble said.
Experimenting with new ingredients is one way to incorporate varying textures into new and existing products.
“Expect to see interesting takes on familiar foods, like flaked chocolate (which is popular in Europe), honeycomb (caramel) candy, and ice cream novelties, like elastic Turkish ice cream and Thai rolled ice cream,as well as more plays with grains, like popped sorghum. We’ll see focus on the sounds of foods,” Campbell’s said.
5. Vegetable evolution
Plant-based eating and a growing plant-forward mindset continues to gain steam according to Campbell’s.
“I think from a consumer’s perspective they’re continually looking for inspiring ways to incorporate vegetables, so, bringing that to the everyday consumer to inspire them to get creative in the kitchen and to explore some of these vegetables they may have walked past at the farmer’s market or the grocery store a million times and now they’re noticing them,” Gamble said.
Vegetables to watch? Mushrooms, beets, more dark leafy greens, sea veggies, and lesser-known greens such as celtuce.
6. Wellness sips
Now in its mainstream phase, functional beverages packed with furits, veggies, and other nutritious ingredients will have a strong influence this year, Campbell’s predicts.
“Today’s functional beverages are redefining how convenient drinks can serve our individual needs. From fresh juices and smoothies to fermented kombucha and kefir to sippable broths and soups, the beverage category itself is being reimagined.”
Last year, for instance, Campbell's launched V8+ Hydrate, marketing the drink as function veggie-powered hydration.