Titbits About Food Trends 2015

I would suppose that any person worth his or her salt in the food industry would have an opinion about food trends for 2015 and that, using a random group of people and their own perceptions and preferences, you could get quite a wide response regaridng products, ingredients and processes. I attended Chocotec 2014 in Cologne in early December and was struck by a presentation, specifically on chocolate, but based on ten trends developed or identified by Innova Market Insights. I thus do not present this as my own work, but rather a South African extension of the insights from IMS. My comments are added to a very short summary of each trend.

1. From a “clean” label to a “clear” label. We all understand clean as being a product and label without all the “nasties” such as preservatives, GMOs, BPA (depending on which side of the food fence you sit, these may not really be an issue to you). “Clear” however is a trend which could also be seen as market edge i.e. a label which tells you a lot more than the average person would need in order to reassure more discerning consumers. An example of this is something such as indicating, like with high-brow wines of origin, where a specific ingredient actually comes from or a lot more about conditions under which the product is made e.g. Fair Trade in a nutshell, the latter being one sentence or more on a label. Label size constraints do play a role here but innovative thinking marketers could really change a product’s impact on a discerning consumer.

2. Convenience for foodies. This is again an area for a clever marketer or for companies interested in developing new ingredients or revitalizing older ones. This is based on the growing interest in food programmes on television and other media which is driving a move to consumers taking a keen interest in cooking. Obviously, being wired the way we are, we would still want some convenience in the way we express our interest and habits when preparing food from scratch at home. This will require upgraded or new ingredients to add some “quick” to “slow food” Or spruce up existing ingredients by looking at the market edge by selling it from a different angle. This goes for raw and fresh produce as well as all the other bits and bobs that go into a good, fresh, home-cooked meal.

3. Marketing to millenials. As much as a third of the world’s population is in the 15 – 35 year bracket. So, even if people are living longer, thus increasing that segment of the world population, there is a significant segment in millenials who have a totally different take on life and its quality. They do not stick to Klim powdered milk because it was what they consumed when babies (read any other product than Klim). They are much more able to make the leap to new products in siilar categories. They are much more daring and need a “kick” or a “hit” to satisfy what sometimes could be jaded appetites in a fast changing world. I think this does already drive marketers and producers in a push-pull relationship and is a reminder to the entrenched brands and products not become too comfy in that zone of dominance.

4. Snacks rise to the occasion. This one is counter-intuitive in that it predicts a rise on consumption of snacks as opposed to (2) above which predicts an increase in home cooking using convenient ingredients. However, the nub here is that the snacks referred to are healthy ones and indlude preparation snacks at home. This also ties in to the millenials and their consumption patterns. So there is an overlap of at least 3 of the 10 trends identified i.e. three birds can be cooked with one stove in a product or, put differently, three (and probably more) trends can be accommodated in one product.

5. Good fats, good carbs. In South Africa, Tim Noakes has stirred the “diet” pot considerably in terms of subscription to the Banting diet. However, this trend relates to natural sources of these ingredients based in whichever vehicle it arrives e.g. butter or omega fats and natural sugars rather than other sweeteners, be they non-nutritive or not. Most companies are already on the bandwagon of touting their products or improving their products with such. I doubt however that this has been fully exploited yet and, if so, it gives space for product revision, or extension in some cases, to accommodate the further projected demand for such in foods.

6. More in store for protein.  This could again be looked at from the point of view of the Banting diet but it does have many more nuances. New proteins are being researched and employed as ingredients or components of complex ingredients. Soy protein is “old hat” while pea protein may be considered as a “younger hat”….they have peaked. However, these have still not been fully exploited and, more importantly as my colleague (Prof. Jideani) would preach: we are not fully exploiting indigenous seeds and cereals in terms of protein, fibre and other components. So, in terms of quantity, nutritional value and costs, there is much to be done as part of meeting this predicted trend. And then the yucky but perfectly safe alternative source from insects.

7. Fresh look at frozen. Frozen is frozen is frozen. Yes, this may be true but what you freeze and how you freeze it is key to the nutritional and organoleptic value of products. There is a thought that this sleeping “giant” is awakening e.g. chocolate enrobed frozen products. And not to be missed out on is the element of fresh being equivalent to frozen depending on the product involved.

8. Private labels. IMS says the success of discount retailers has lead to a significant rise in private labels and product launches in this sector has increased on every continent since 2009. Cargill says that private labels are a brand on their own and not playing catch-up anymore. Is there an opportunity for Food Technology at CPUT to develop its own private label attached to products? I am sure you would have seen at PnP and Woolworths the number of private labels popping up. The alcohol-free malted beverage by the name of Breva is one such…..however, an aquaintance did want to know on a lighter note what the point of this beverage was:-)

9. New routes for fruit. There is a growing demand for products containing “real fruit”. Attached to this is the demand for natural flavours and colours. This need has not been fully exploited locally, again in terms of indigenous ingredients and raw materials. Just a few minutes ago a client walked into my office with a juice produced from an indiigenous fruit which grows wild and has not been used for production. The colour was stunning…..he did not tell me the name of the fruit though:-(

10. Rich, chewy and crunchy. There is an expected response to terms such as crunchy, gooey, velvety and other adjectives related to texture. Front of pack text and cut-through products to show such are expected to receive more attention to consumers, partly due to the mouth-feel and also due to, in some cases expectations attached to healthier products. Crunch munch eat your lunch!

The Agrifood Technology Station and the Department of Food Technology will keep these in mind in terms of training as well as advising clients.