Voices: Well Noted

Ingredient Trend Predictions for 2008

Editor David Feder makes ingredient trend predictions for 2008.

By David Feder, R.D.

Being a magazine devoted to nutraceutical trends, we’re always in prognostication mode. We approach trends the way a Le Mans racer drives: An upcoming curve isn’t the point of reference, the horizon beyond it is.

Predicting ingredient trends is risky business. I’ve been right – for example anticipating the boom in antioxidant-rich red/purple/blue fruits. I’ve been wrong, or at least premature: Resistant starch – a significantly healthful and versatile ingredient – unfortunately has yet to become part of Jane and Joe Sixpack’s vernacular. But being wrong never stopped a journalist, so here are some predictions for 2008, ad apres.

Some “forgotten” ingredients will make comebacks. Acerola is an example (see “Acerola Comes up Aces,” www.foodprocessing.com/articles/2007/272.html), as are aloe (already gaining traction) and rose hips. And colorful and interesting fruits and veggies, especially from exotic tropic locales in South America and Asia, will keep getting more attention (and inclusion) in foods and beverages formulated for health. They’re easy to understand as good for you, tend to be tasty and need little processing. They also are becoming more familiar as the world gets smaller.

This tropical storm is acknowledged by Robert Schueller, director of communications for Melissa’s World Variety Produce, Los Angeles (www.melissas.com). “Mangosteen will be one of the hottest tropical ingredients in 2008,” he declares. Schueller points not only to the traction it’s receiving now as a beverage ingredient, but the familiarity it will enjoy when the fresh fruit becomes available in the U.S. in spring. “We also plan to see in increase of about 20 percent in fresh organic pomegranates in 2008,” notes Schueller, “and a 30 percent increase in fresh pomegranates seeds. Other potentially hot new fruits include paw paw, guanabana and atemoya from Thailand.”

Will cupuaçu finally have its day? I think so – if not in 2008 then in 2009. I’d predicted big things for the cacao cousin back in 1999, but legal and logistic issues kept it from being a player. Now, it can readily benefit from chocolate’s sudden and newfound respect as a health food – it’s as loaded with nutraceutical benefits as chocolate. (Chocolate-like bars made from it are outstanding, similar to Belgian chocolate but with a faint hint of coffee.)

But the big trend to look for in 2008 and beyond is a tidal wave of functional foods and beverages promoting anti-inflammatory benefits. As science discovers more about the role of inflammation in disease and cellular aging, researchers also are discovering many antioxidant ingredients serve dual function as anti-inflammatories. This allows formulators and marketers to make an easy transition to on-the-shelf presence for product.

Finally, general categories of foods and beverages for health – i.e., satiety, brain-boosting and energy – will keep making a big impact, although the field is getting crowded. Yet one thing won’t change: Any processor planning to launch a food or beverage targeting wellness needs to be darn sure it’s tasty, and any health marketing is backed by objective science. If you release a product that can’t stand up under intense scrutiny, you’ll see it land in the bargain bin at the big-box store before you can say “Chapter 11.”

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