Ingredient Insights: The Year Of The Ingredients, January 9

Jan. 9, 2012
This year specific ingredients will take off and stretch emerging and ongoing trends to their full potential.

2012 promises to be the Year of The Ingredients!

Yes, I mean 'Year of The Ingredients' and not just 'Year of Ingredients.'

This year specific ingredients will take off and stretch emerging and ongoing trends to their full potential.

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Much like 'Intel Inside' convinced shoppers of the quality of computer goods, the 'Ingredient Inside' of food products are helping shoppers decide which foods are honestly healthful. Just as fiber and probiotics, valued for their palpable effects, are destination ingredients for many while shopping for certain foods and beverages, omega-3s, vitamins and minerals are shining stars in certain categories of foods for shoppers who value their disease prevention effects.

2012 promises increasing consumer appetite for ingredients that have proven themselves in the supplement aisles.

Some ingredients are poised to take command of the Tower of Nutrition Babel. Instead of drowning consumers with a lot of information—much of which confuses even the highly educated—savvy marketers are using the ingredients listing as a simple, easy-to-understand system to help shoppers quickly discern whether their product is healthy or not.

2012—the Year of the Dragon in the Chinese zodiac—is also the Year of Functionality and paving the way for ingredients with multi-faceted functionality.

Functional ingredients are helping regulations-driven efforts to reduce salt, fat, and sugar in products.  Ingredients with multi-faceted functionality not only help compensate for the reduction of these 'tasty' rascals but also up the ante on health benefits and other attributes that people yearn for.

The gluten-free and allergen free trends are creating the perfect storm for ingredients with multi-faceted functionality. The crux of the burgeoning free-from movement is the belief among a seemingly growing number of people that their health improves with the omission of certain foodstuffs from their diet. Ingredients that can effectively replace wheat and gluten and provide additional product and health benefits can not only shine in this niche but also break traditional 'free-from' brands out of their typical narrow niches horizontally in broader and larger categories.

Kantha Shelke is a principal at Corvus Blue LLC, a Chicago-based food science and research firm specializing in industry competitive intelligence, expert witness services, and new product/technology development and commercialization of foods and food ingredients for health and wellness.  

Ingredients with a 'natural' cloak will be stronger than ever not only on the label of foods but also on other aspects of the food business. People are looking not just for natural food colors and flavors but also for signs that the company is doing its share for the sustainability of the ingredient as well as the longevity of its effect on the health of people and the environment.

2012 is also the Year of Clean Labels. Marketplace awareness of what ingredients are truly natural is emphasizing the economic value of truth in labelling. Not only is it poor form to make misleading claims about 'free-from', 'all-natural' or '100%' but also very expensive.

With the spotlight clearly on ingredients this year, it will be increasingly important not only to demonstrate their efficacy but to also show they are not harming people.

The world of ingredients takes center stage in this wide-ranging column. Here, I will track the best of what's new, dissect trends, and find inspiration in scientific research, book reviews, history, folklore, art and more. All to help you hit your stride and grow your opportunities in this fascinating and fast-paced marketplace. Tune in again!