The argument can be made that, in an economic meltdown that turned R&D into “Wait and See,” trying to hit on what are the coming health and wellness food trends is merely throwing punches in the dark. The past year’s fiscal fiasco sent many a good company reeling. But the good news is a number of industries — not just food and beverage makers — are starting to stagger back to their feet and focus on ways to improve their positions.
Perhaps the biggest message sent to the food processing industry was the tsunami of a backlash -- by both consumers and feds (in the form of the FDA) -- to the “Smart Choice” front-of-package labeling campaign. This was a wellness foods debacle that led to cereals and snacks -- with half their content as sugar and loaded with artificial colors and flavors -- being touted as health foods.
We won’t point fingers here, but to all the big names that signed on and spent untold dollars, the smaller processors owe you a debt of gratitude. You opened the door for the little guys to not only keep but gain a bigger slice of the healthy pie by doing what they always do: being honest and sincere in creating good-for-you products. Rule No. 1 of any business: Respect the consumer. Now that the doors are cracked, here are the trends forecasted to throw them wide open.
Simple and Sweet
“A recent study Puratos sponsored shows 77 percent of consumers read ingredient statements on packaging and are using nutritional information to make their purchasing decisions,” says Matt Crumpton, vice president of marketing for Puratos USA (www.puratos.com), a Cherry Hill, N.J., maker of bakery and pastry ingredients and flavors. “It is a challenge to the food industry to develop healthier solutions that meet the taste and ingredient expectations of today’s ever-more demanding consumers.”
And what consumers are demanding is clear. “The new consumer mantra when it comes to health and wellness is ‘simple,’” says Kimberly Carson, director of beverage solutions for Sensient Flavors LLC (www.sensient-tech.com), Indianapolis. “Already there are products on grocery store shelves with ‘simple’ and ‘simply’ on the package, referencing both a simplification of the ingredient statement as well as…healthier ingredients.”