Innova Market Insights Announces Top 10 Food Trends for 2012

Innova Market Insights identified 10 key trends to impact the food and beverage market through 2012 and beyond. The top trends relate to purity, authenticity and sustainability, as consumers continue to look for products with added value, despite the ongoing economic uncertainty. Innova Market Insights presented the trends during a webcast on November 23.

The trends for 2012 are:

  • "Pure" is the New Natural. Natural products are becoming the rule rather than the exception in most western markets, despite ongoing issues with a clear definition of what "natural" encompasses. One way around this has been marketing the "purity" of a product, with Innova Market Insights reporting a doubling in the number of products using the word "pure" between 2008 and 2009, with a further third added in 2010 and considerably more in 2011.
  • Green is a Given. Corporate social responsibility and sustainability strategies have taken on an increasingly important role. The focus is on reducing carbon emissions or packaging, or creating higher welfare or fairly traded lines. The "ingredientization" of commodities is also moving forward, with previously untapped waste materials used for their potential functional and health benefits. For example, mushroom stems have been tapped as an MSG replacer. 
  • Location, Location, Location. Interest in where their foods are coming from has never been higher among consumers. This is being driven by an interest in supporting local suppliers, a desire for ethnic-style lines, concerns over the quality and safety of imported products, or the demand for authenticity in terms of products from a particular country or region. 
  • Premium Stands Out. Despite austerity measures topping the agenda yet again from mid-2011, a premium positioning provides many benefits. Consumers still have to eat and are likely to look increasingly to the extremes of discount or super-premium products, with center-ground brands squeezed. A premium treat can be justified as an affordable indulgence during difficult economic times, particularly if it can also encompass a better-for-you element. 
  • Seniors Draw Attention. Companies are starting to address the needs of an aging population, both in terms of packaging functionality and of general and specific health concerns. New EU regulations on labeling should also help seniors by improving the clarity and visibility of nutritional information. Various recent moves have been made in US front-of-pack labeling. Keywords such as easy to open, easy to digest, reduced acid, easy to swallow, for strong bones, specially formulated can be found on more products.
  • Forty is the New Twenty. Consumers in the 40-65-year-old range are interested in products that will help them with their desire to maintain an active lifestyle. They have a  particular intereste in increasing focus of successful aging or extending the middle years with an active productive and rewarding life for as long as possible.
  • Grounded in Science. Consumers are interested in seeing scientifically proven claims listed on their foods. This prompts a lot of consumer trust in food manufacturers. One such example is immune health linked to Vitamin C. 
  • Regulators Force a Rethink.  With governments putting more pressure on food companies to rethink things like obesity, food companies are changing the ways they manufacture their food. One such example is potato chips now being fried in sunflower oils.
  • Unmeasurable Niches.  Markets where it is difficult to measure the size of the market -- for example, gluten free -- are helping smaller food manufacturers stay in the game
  • Boom for Protein. The Atkins diet gave protein a big kick-off in 2002-2003; in 2011, interest in satiety has helped protein maintain its importance in consumers' diets. Food manufacturers are finding new technologies driving plant-based proteins which has also helped meat-free alternatives to increase in the grocery shelves in the last few years. As such, products such as hummus and greek yogurt have grown immensenly in popularity.

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