What’s going to be hot in 2019? “Adventurous” and plant-based eating accelerates, increased calls for transparency expected

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02 Jan 2019 --- Globalization has sparked consumers’ curiosity around new food and drinks, exciting flavors and new ways of eating, as they become more knowledgeable of other cultures. This is resulting in brands bringing more variety to the market. Heightened sensory delivery, storytelling and novelty are providing ways for brands to engage with more adventurous, hedonistic consumers. FoodIngredientsFirst takes a closer look at the hotly tipped top trends for this coming year, including the “adventurous” consumer, plant-based eating and increased calls for transparency.

The rise of the “adventurous” consumer is backed up by consumer data and has been tipped as the top trend for 2019 by Innova Market Insights. Consumer research (2018) from the market analyst indicates that 7 in 10 US consumers “love to discover new flavors,” with similar numbers of respondents reported in China and the UK. The market researcher also finds that 28 percent of US, UK and Chinese consumers have experienced a shift in their tastes towards more exotic or adventurous flavors in snacks. This market dynamic has contributed to a 35 percent growth in the use of a “discovery” claim in 2017 from 2016. These types of products feature claims that include the use of words including “discover,” “explore,” “uncover,” “unveil” and “unravel.” 

At the same time, rising consumer interest in other cultures has resulted in a 17 percent average annual growth in global food & beverage launches with ethnic flavors over the 2013-2017 period. 

The “adventurous” consumer trend is particularly prevalent in the snacking space, where bold flavors are refining the snacking experience. A look at the average annual growth of selected flavors in new snack launches (Global, CAGR 2013-2017) found exotic flavors (31 percent), beef flavors (15 percent) and chili flavors (14 percent) to be among the most trending options.

Plant-based eating trends have also been in the limelight in the last couple of years and continues to go from strength to strength. It is driven by both health, sustainability and animal welfare concerns. 

Innova Market Insights has hotly tipped “The Plant Kingdom” as its number two top trend for 2019, reflecting how vegan inspired eating continues to go mainstream. 

As part of The Plant Kingdom trend prediction, the market researcher states that “the plant-based market shows no signs of slowing down and companies and brands are greening up their portfolios to attract mainstream consumers who want to add more plant-based options to their diets. For the mainstream consumer, going plant-based is about achieving a healthy and sustainable balance between meat and vegetables, rather than adopting an all-or-nothing way of eating.”

Plant-based growth has been a key theme for several years, but the extent to which it grew into the total mainstream with both vegetarian and vegan options became incredibly prevalent throughout 2018. According to data from Innova Market Insights, there has been a 45 percent average annual growth in food & beverage launches with a vegan positioning (CAGR, 2013-2017). 

Increased calls for transparency

For many suppliers, clean label and transparency still dominate and this will continue throughout 2019. 

“The major trend that we can see is that people are increasingly looking for natural-based products, transparency and where the product comes from,” notes Jean-Yves Parisot, President, Diana (Symrise Nutrition Division). “They want customized solutions to meet their own needs in the form of personalized nutrition. They are increasingly looking at digital-based solutions and want simple and direct access to the final products. Last but not least, consumers are looking for science. Whatever type of color, health, flavor or food protection, the consumer wants to understand what is in it and whether or not it works,” he adds.

Mai Nygaard, Marketing Director at FrieslandCampina DMV, notes that key trends shaping 2019 and beyond in nutrition are the growth in on-the-go healthy snacking and a strong move towards more natural products. 

It will be about full transparency on ingredients and their origin, she says. “We have already seen many traditional category boundaries blurring in 2018 – sports nutrition went mainstream and lifestyle orientated. This is creating more intake moments and ready to eat high-protein product formats and RTD drinks. More indulgence-oriented offerings such as ice cream recorded strong growth when reformulated to allow for guilt-free pleasure,” she tells FoodIngredientsFirst

For Thomas Krahl, Head of Technical Service at Sensient Colors Europe GmbH, the ever-growing global trend for more transparency, natural and sustainable products is set to continue. Consumers want to know more about where their food actually comes from and what it is made of. “With this trend, we have been extending the range of natural colors and coloring foods with new shades for a variety of food and drink products,” he explains. 

Technological advances are vital enablers for consumers to get closer to their food, literally, but also regarding transparency, knowledge and sharing on social media. Never in history have we been more connected to the plate in front of us. Sharing food and dining pictures is no longer the reserve of a nerdy foodie – “the instagrammability of food” has widespread appeal, particularly among millennials. Food & beverages are at the heart of many social connections. 

A 2018 Innova Market Insights trends survey found that 8 in 10 US consumers are more likely to buy brands that are honest and transparent about how and where products are produced.

Food producers and distributors face a myriad of challenges throughout the journey from farm to fork. Not only is the global food supply chain becoming more complex and diverse, but changes in consumer attitudes have also placed new pressures on companies to bring more, and cheaper, products to market faster. With rising numbers of product recalls around the world, identifying food contaminants is critical for maintaining supply chain integrity and consumer safety.

Recent scares suggest that full traceability back to the exact location on the farm can also help through the use of new technology such as blockchain.

Amid the background of E. Coli food safety scares around lettuce, in September 2018, Walmart said it was lauding the benefits of tracking lettuce and spinach through the supply chain through the use of blockchain. Walmart and Sam’s Club are urging lettuce and spinach suppliers to contribute to a blockchain database that can quickly and efficiently identify contamination. Their suppliers have resultantly received a letter requesting that they trace their products all the way back to the farm using blockchain technology. Walmart says suppliers are expected to have all these systems in place by this time next year. All fresh leafy greens suppliers are expected to be able to trace their products back to the farm they came from in seconds – not days. To do this, suppliers will be required to capture digital, end-to-end traceability event information using the IBM Food Trust network.

Consumers are becoming more connected to the plate and technology advances are only becoming greater enablers. The role of digital advancements in sharing for both pleasure,business success and transparency will remain a key theme in 2019 and beyond.

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