Thoughtful convenience, innovative flavors and packaging, and blurring lines between snacks and meals are just some of the trends highlighted at the Institute of Food Technologists annual meeting and food exposition held mid-July in Chicago. Food Business News put together a rundown of the top 10 food trends 2018 is seeing growth across store shelves everywhere.
In 2017, almost half of all new food and beverage products featured some kind of "better for you" claim. These claims are about more than health; they also tout being better for the environment or better for animals. Analysts expect the trend of higher ethics in the food world to keep getting stronger.
People still want to indulge but they want to do it wisely. Session beers, lightly salted snacks, "thin" cookies and crackers, and enhanced waters give consumers choices for healthy indulgences.
"Processed" foods have gained a negative reputation for being unhealthy, so consumers are turning to products that have been "naturally" processed. More products are featuring terms like sprouted, raw, cold-brew, charcoal-filtered, and steam-distilled as ways to convince customers they are more natural and thus better.
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Part of being a thoughtful consumer is considering how food and beverages are packaged. According to Food Business News, more than a third of global food and beverage launches in 2107 used ethical packaging claims such as biodegradable or compostable and more brands are featuring the use of packing with upcycled ingredients.
Fusion with a Buzz
Coffee and tea are hot right now, especially when they're iced, flavored, or mixed in with other products for an extra buzz. Espresso flavored candy and cookies have been introduced by several brands, and matcha or green tea is considered both a flavorful and healthy addition.
In order to get the right nutrients, we're encouraged to eat the rainbow (and not the candy kind). In order to capture the attention of consumers and offer health benefits, brands are introducing brightly colored foods and beverages. For example, a ginger turmeric juice not only catches the eye, it can also claim the health benefits of those ingredients.
Gourmet Dining at Home
More people are cooking at home, but many of them are still looking for the convenience and ease of eating out. Meal kits and gourmet freezer meals continue to grow, with more brands featuring "fresh" and healthy ingredients and wider varieties of recipes.
Snacks as Small Meals
Single portion meals and snack designed to act as small meals are everywhere and likely to keep growing. It's more than granola bars; high protein meat and cheese snacks and fruit and vegetable snacks are being promoted as easy meals on the go for busy parents, students, and workers.
Seaweed, seafood, and sea salt are all showing up in a wider variety of products, regarded both for their nutritional value and for the umami flavor. According to Innova Market Insights, global snack launches with sea vegetables increased by 19% from 2012 to 2017.
Brands are thinking out of the box with their traditional products like peanut butter and ketchup, creating a variety of flavors and functions designed to appeal to a broader audience.