‘Natural’ label to gain momentum in 2008

Natural, nutraceutical and green lead Innova’s top 10 trends.

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“Natural,” “clean-label” and “origin” will be the key words driving food marketing to increasingly skeptical consumers in 2008 – so says Innova (www.innovadatabase.com), the Netherlands-based tracker of worldwide new product launches.

High profile studies on artificial colorants and food scares related to Chinese ingredients in 2007 will only lead to more products touting all-natural and organic label declarations. Red Band Truly, a confectionery range from Netherlands’ Leaf Holland BV, eschews artificial colors and flavors, and Innova believes it’s the first major line of sweets to be launched across Europe with less sugars and more fruit juices and natural ingredients.

Recently, Unilever made a similarly “natural” move with the launch of Knorr Color Soups. The range of soups is made of ingredients with the same colors as the soups themselves and without artificial flavorings.

Following is Innova’s full top 10 trends list for 2008:

  1. Go Natural: Growing consumer skepticism of additives and artificial colorants will lead to a further rise in the adoption of natural ingredients. Companies who make the transition to natural products will be even keener to highlight this. Pepsi Raw, a premium product with high fructose corn syrup replaced by cane sugar, will be one of the first mainstream launches in this area. It’s scheduled for a first quarter debut in the U.K.
  2. Condition Specific: Specialized nutrition is no longer a niche sector, as more and more of the population finds itself requiring it. Danone's acquisition of Numico indicates these aspirations, while DSM's launch of InsuVital demonstrates mainstream products could soon be available in the race to prevent chronic conditions like diabetes.
  3. Greener Than Thou: Most of the major food and beverage manufacturers are aiming to give consumers and indeed shareholders the impression they are carbon conscious. The latest packaging moves are aimed to further declare this.
  4. Novel Functional Applications: New food technologies will make it possible to increase the drive for healthy products in new categories. Probiotics in chocolate is just one example of a future food, where consumers are given new options for achieving their dose of a health ingredient or nutrient.
  5. Forward to the Past: Nostalgia is rife. Consumers are longing to return to times when things were a bit simpler. Companies are relaunching previously dropped products like Cadbury’s Wispa (as a limited edition) to answer these nostalgia demands. Products that are marketed to give the impression of “like mom/grandma would have made it” are being launched or repositioned with increasing frequency.
  6. Interactive Products: Brands are often positioned as more than just products, but ways of life. Packaging has long fulfilled more than just a role of encasing and protecting a product; packaging developments such as glow-in-the-dark and temperature-sensitive cans and Coke's upcoming launch of the Sprite cooling bottle all indicate a trend toward packaging that offers more.
  7. Less is More: Packaging that uses less plastic to save on material costs or packaging that is lower in weight such as a diverse range of new closures is being increasingly adopted. Coca-Cola already is introducing reduced-weight bottles. Countering this trend are larger and simpler formats that deal with the needs of older people who have difficulty opening some packaging formats.
  8. Taking the Brand Further: Taking an established brand into an entirely new sector is hardly a new concept, but there have been some significant examples recently – such as Starbucks’ ventures with Pepsi, Kraft and Hershey. Jamba Juice is another company that will be seen outside of foodservice, through a licensing agreement with Nestlé.
  9. Private Innovation: Private-label brands traditionally have been "inspired" by branded manufacturers in the launch of new products. Some recent exceptions, such as Aldi Süd's early adoption of Huhtamaki's Cyclero packaging, indicate this is no longer the case.
  10. Beautiful Day Arrives: Danone's 2007 launch of Essensis, a yogurt claiming to improve beauty, proved to be a good one, with introductions following in several European markets. Other beauty products are bound to pop up in the upcoming months, including Emmi’s super premium Beauty Case, another yogurt planned for a Swiss debut, and Mars’ Dove Beautiful here in the U.S. Meanwhile men's beauty products have been one of the key trends in cosmetics in the past couple of years, and it is only a matter of time before the food industry begins to exploit this potential market.

The Innova Database (www.innovadatabase.com) tracks new product trends, competitors, ingredients and flavors from food manufacturers around the world. It contains product pictures, search possibilities and analysis. You can request guest access at: http://www.innovadatabase.com/guestregister.asp or contact Lu Ann Williams at luann.williams@innovami.com.

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