What are some current trends with ingredients?
Dr Scott Nykaza
We are noticing three main consumer developments—clean labels, global flavour experiences and increased desire for quality convenience foods. These trends are influencing the ingredients we are seeing requested across all regions.
To appeal to consumers’ desire for transparency and more natural ingredients in their foods, companies are switching from artificial to natural whenever possible. The most unacceptable ingredients in food labels are artificial flavours, colours and preservatives.
Substitutions for these ingredients in the form of natural flavours, naturally derived colours and natural antioxidants are all in demand to meet this reformulation need.
When it comes to new food experiences, borders are blurring and there is an increasing desire for authentic regionally inspired flavours from different countries. This is true in everything from snack food to restaurant meals.
Globally trending cuisines include Korean, African and Latin American. In Asia, Thai cuisine continues to be popular but there is a growing interest of Korean (Kimchi, Gochujang, Bugolgi), Vietnamese Pho and Japanese flavours beside American and Italian Flavours. In Australia, customers are asking for BBQ Hickory smoke flavour.
Today’s consumers are looking for convenience. The middle class population is increasing in regions such as Asia, leading to increased demand for convenience and premiumisation of foods as these consumers have more disposable income and less time to cook. Beverages, noodles, and snacks will become increasingly popular.
Convenience also often creates challenges for maintaining shelf-life without the use of artificial ingredients. This creates opportunities for antioxidants that meet a clean label requirement such as green tea or rosemary extract.
Which ingredients do you expect to see trending this year?
Ingredients relating specifically to the cuisines such as authentic peppers, and ethnic combinations such as harissa, gochujang and peri peri will be popular.
Plant-based ingredients will continue to increase in demand including herbs and spices such as turmeric, rosemary and sage because of their perceived health benefits.
Also, we believe we will see an increase in natural colours from paprika and carrot types as consumers look to use foods as their source of colouring. There is an increasing interest in colouring foodstuffs in Asia, particularly in China. This aligns with the cleaner label trends and desire for more transparency with consumers.
Is health and wellness important?
More and more data suggests and defines linkages between what we eat and our level of health. High sugar contents and high salt levels are two well reviewed ingredients that are linked to health issues when overly consumed.
As consumer awareness of these links increases, we believe they will demand healthier options from manufacturers. This seems to be true not only for the ageing segments of our population but is also a driver amongst millennials.
What opportunities can manufacturers take advantage of?
Miguel Á. Padriñán
Health and wellness will continue to remain a priority with consumers. More than ever, consumers look to their diets as a source of health and a factor in function and wellbeing.
Manufacturers will need to respond with products that meet the consumer’s perception of ‘healthy’—regardless of scientific evidence. Reformulating existing products and launching new products that are ‘free from’ certain ingredients (artificial colours, flavours, preservatives, etc.) will be important but also challenging.
Important considerations would be providing similar colour, flavour and shelf-life characteristics in these healthier alternatives. This means considering the form, stability, and consistency of these naturally sourced ingredients as well as the conditions of manufacture, package, transport and storage.
Leveraging alternatives to traditional protein sources creates an opportunity as consumers increasingly look to vegetarian and “flexitarian” lifestyles. As a result, plant-based alternatives will continue to grow in popularity. This creates formulation options for new flavour and colour profiles to compliment these alternative protein sources.
In addition, plant proteins (in place of meat options) will also gain favour as they are sustainable; they require less water and energy to product over traditional meat products.