The year is just about over, and that means it’s almost time for our annual Trend Report. The 2018 edition comes out next month, but in the meantime, we’re taking a look back at our 2017 Trend Report. How well did we do with our predictions for the world of food and flavour? Let’s break it down and assess.
Food with a Function, Naturally Occurring
At the end of 2016, we reported that more consumers were looking for functional benefits in their food. A 2017 National Consumer Survey conducted by market research firm Packaged Facts found about 25% of U.S. adults seek out foods and beverages with high amounts of probiotics or prebiotics. This momentum is forecasted to continue due to high demand by Millennials for an overall health boost.
Kimchi continues to be mainstream, and sprouted grains are showing up in your everyday bread. Major companies like PepsiCo are also entering the market. The CPG titan purchased probiotic beverage brand KeVita, and also launched the Tropicana Essentials Probiotics line this year.
From Protein to Protein + Fibre
Noting a continent-wide fibre deficiency, we anticipated a growing interest in fibre. Protein continues to be front-and-centre for consumers, but the demand for fibre is also increasing as consumers better understand the role it plays in good digestive health. According to a recent survey in the U.S. the #1 ingredient 47% of consumers look to add is fibre.
From Weight to Well-Being
The conversation has changed from cutting calories to well-being and the role food has in making consumers “feel,” both mentally and physically. It’s a positive trend that puts the focus on the right aspects of nutrition. For supporting evidence, look no further than the rise of meal kits – even time-starved consumers are looking for healthy options.
Simply Made, Real Ingredients
Real ingredients, including healthy fats (a term that used to be almost an oxymoron), are back! Keto has become part of the lexicon, and artificial flavours and preservatives continue to be formulated out of existing products.
Dietary restrictions and self-reported food sensitivities continue to rise. Allergy-free foods have moved from specialty items to mainstream in a short amount of time, according to Prepared Foods. Ingredient intolerance is no longer the sole reason shoppers turn to allergy-free food, with many consumers choosing foods and beverages without allergens with the belief that they will help their digestive health, weight management, and overall well-being. It’s a great time to be a “niche” food-maker!
Take Me Halfway There!
Convenience is king, but with a healthy twist. You can now get your vegetables riced or spiralized in most major grocers. Meal kit solutions continue to grow, with mighty Amazon hopping on the bandwagon. And, Walmart is even stocking your fridge when you’re not home!
As predicted, traditional foods continue to become “snackified” for on-the-go consumers. October’s Grocery Innovation Show featured pre-packaged hard boiled eggs, granola bites you can eat without a spoon, and even Oka cheese is coming in single-serve portable containers.
Made for Me
With DNA testing becoming cost-effective (have you checked your ancestry yet?), Forbes is predicting that hyper-personalization is about to disrupt the food, health, and beauty industries, as nutrigenomics maximizes your particular metabolism and nutrient needs. Supporting evidence: the Campbell Soup Co. is the sole investor in Habit, a San Francisco-based personalized nutrition meal delivery startup.
Narrowing the Farm Gate to Dinner Plate Journey
“Local” continues to rise in importance with consumers, as predicted, as does the importance of origin stories for consumers. Our favourite example of this trend – IGA’s rooftop garden in Montréal. Grow it upstairs, and sell it downstairs. Now that’s local!
Both awareness of food waste and plant-based products took off this year. Nielsen reports that plant-based options are gaining traction and hold significant sales potential. Even NFL quarterback Tom Brady has launched a plant-based meal kit! (No word on whether the kits are fully inflated.)
Products and meals are now being made from waste streams. Imperfect, or “ugly” fruit and vegetables are being sold and celebrated in grocery stores. Longos & Farm Boy are using apps to notify customers when food gets near its best-before date. Even Amazon’s Alexa has just released a new app called ‘save the food.’
Food is Food, Across Borders
Ipsos FIVE data shows that per capita consumption of Ethnic Foods is growing at 3X the rate of Total Food. This demand for unique and ethnically-inspired flavour profiles is a call to action for brands to expand their portfolios to be relevant to Canadian consumers. Ironically, the adoption of foreign flavours may bring about the end of the term “ethnic food.”