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‘Junk-free’ foods, carbon footprinting among new product trends

New product trends across the food and beverage industries are beginning to appear on shelves. Many of these trends revolve around additives, or lack there of, and environmentally-friendly products.


May 6, 2008
By meatingplace.com

Topics

May 6, 2008

LAS VEGAS — New product introductions
increased almost 17 percent between 2005 and 2007, and while some of tomorrow's
new products might look familiar, others represent trends just starting to
emerge, according to Lynn Dornblaser of research consultancy Mintel
International, who spoke here during the Food Marketing Institute Show.

Dornblaser discussed new product trends across the food and beverage
industries. Here are a few that are likely to impact meat and poultry
processors:

'Junk-free' foods

Processors in the United Kingdom and Australia have started using
"junk" to refer to additives, preservatives, artificial flavors and
artificial colors, leading to food packaging claims such as
"junk-free," Dornblaser explained. She said it's a way of framing these
ingredients less scientifically and more emotionally, especially since most of
these label claims are appearing on products geared toward children.

Salt as a positive and a negative

While Mintel research has indicated growth in introductions of products
containing specialty salts such as sea salt or salt from other specific
sources, Dornblaser also noted that salt is increasingly being positioned by
health professionals as a serious health risk, leading to a rise in low-sodium
offerings.

Clean labels

Consumers are looking for purity in foods, Dornblaser said, and products with
ingredient statements using simple language are one way to convey a purer
product. In addition to the label, clear packaging is another facet of this
trend. "As an industry, sometimes we forget consumers want to see that
product, and not just a beauty shot on the front of the package,"
Dornblaser noted.

Carbon footprint — redefined

Accurately calculating the carbon footprint of a single product is very
difficult if not impossible, Dornblaser said, which is why she expects food
processors to move away from trying to emphasize particular products' carbon
footprints. Instead, she predicts broader corporate green initiatives to take
center stage and be promoted on companies' Web sites.

Restaging of healthy eating

"Diet" is becoming a four-letter word for consumers, and the idea of
health is evolving to encompass balanced choices, rather than simply
eliminating what's "bad," Dornblaser said. She also noted that there
is an increasing emphasis on healthy living overall, rather than healthy eating
alone.

Regardless of specific product trends, Dornblaser stressed that there is a
simple bottom line for the food industry. "Consumers want products that
taste good, and they want to have fun," she said. "Taste trumps
everything."