Top Trends in Foods, Beverages and Ingredients

3 Dec 2013

The food and drink industry produces a very wide range of products; however, trends do inevitably emerge as the industry is quick to respond to changing consumer demands and other external pressures and drivers. In particular, European consumers are becoming more concerned about the source of ingredients and the manufacturing processes applied to products. This […]

Top Trends in Foods, Beverages and Ingredients

The food and drink industry produces a very wide range of products; however, trends do inevitably emerge as the industry is quick to respond to changing consumer demands and other external pressures and drivers.

In particular, European consumers are becoming more concerned about the source of ingredients and the manufacturing processes applied to products. This is supported by a regular media focus. For example, in the UK there have been a number of recent television programmes which have explored the food industry and provided insight into how products are manufactured.

Authenticity is clearly important to both consumers and the food industry, and has gained even greater importance following the horse meat issue. Prior to this, the media had also reported on issues surrounding the false advertising of various different fish varieties as cod, and more recently it has been recognised that olive oil fraud is increasing. Control of supply chains is clearly important, as is regular authenticity testing. In Britain there is also a growing desire from consumers to purchase British-grown or British-sourced produce.

Clean label and/or the use of only natural ingredients is another key focus for consumers. This presents a challenge to the industry as the addition of preservatives, flavourings, additives and so on is important for product quality and safety, and natural alternatives usually do not function in the same way (for example: natural, vegetarian friendly red colours do not tend to have the same heat stability).

The food industry is increasingly under pressure to provide healthier products in order to help tackle rising obesity levels, and other chronic diseases (cardiovascular diseases, cancers, diabetes). In the UK, one of the main drivers is the Public Health Responsibility Deal, a voluntary scheme in which industry signs up to one or more pledges, such as salt reduction, calorie reduction, and, most recently, saturated fat reduction.

The use of nutrition claims – for example ‘high fibre’ and ‘reduced sugar’ – is also commonplace, and in some cases their presence can positively influence consumer purchasing decisions.  However, whilst health is on the agenda, consumers still demand indulgence products. The industry has responded with innovations in the ‘healthier indulgence’ space, including smaller/individual dessert portions; indulgent, thick and creamy yoghurts; and addition of ingredients with a health halo, such as dark chocolate and oats.

The food industry has also picked up on the growing desire from consumers to achieve a dining experience at home, i.e. great tasting food which is cheaper than eating out. The most common product offerings include meal deals and kits containing most/all of the ingredients required to make a meal. However, home-cooking is also growing in popularity, and this has led to innovations such as recipe cards from supermarkets and recipe ideas on company websites/in advertising campaigns that make use of branded ingredients.

Overall, the recent trends in the food and drink industry appear to reflect a growing consumer interest in food, whether this is concern regarding provenance and authenticity, a desire for natural products, interest in nutrition and health, or the appeal of home cooking. The industry is responding well, and can continue to do so with ongoing ingredient and product innovations, as well as providing clear information to consumers regarding food ingredients and food processes.

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