This New Products Annual is packed with information on new product trends. I invite you to read the concise overviews of what is happening in baked goods, cereals, meals, beverages and other categories. For anyone wanting an even more succinct, 45-second summary, here is one based on several interviews, including one with myself. (If you can take this easy way out to garner trend information, I can take the easy way out and interview myself.)
PF: What are some of the major new product trends you’ve observed this last year?
William Roberts, PF business editor: “Wellness” has been key. Manufacturers have embraced the message about obesity and health; we will see how strongly it resonates with consumers. Manufacturers have gone to great lengths to offer “low-in” varieties, functional products with added nutrients and products controlling portions. The 100-calorie pack craze continued in 2007, and more are expected in 2008. In another area, energy beverage launches are slowing, but energy products have extended to other categories such as confectionery. Similarly, the benefits of antioxidant-rich chocolates are being transferred to categories beyond confectionery.
PF: What are some trends not related to health?
Lynn Dornblaser, director, Custom Solutions Group, Mintel International (Chicago): Sustainability is big. Consumers are looking beyond “good for the body” to “for the greater good.” One outcome is the current interest in fair trade foods. Secondly, there is more segmentation of products, many based on lifestyle. Examples include fun products for kids and products that evoke nostalgia for Baby Boomers. We continue to see products with heightened flavor profiles, such as stronger meat flavors, more intense flavors and even saltier items. There is the emergence of “flavor varietals,” where origins are used to promote flavor differentiation. Coffee and chocolates are prime examples, but this extends to categories such as citrus, e.g., Meyer lemons or pomelo grapefruit. [Note: Lynn, along with Mintel’s Dave Jago, will speak specifically on flavor trends at the New Products Conference this September; see www.PreparedFoods.com/npc.]
PF: While companies don’t want to be “ahead” of consumers, are there missed opportunities because consumers are ahead of companies?
Claudia O’Donnell, PF Chief Editor: Yes. One example may be products for “inflammation;” see page NS3 in this issue. Sloan Trends’ TrendSense quantifies media popularity of this concept, yet very few products positioned to assist this condition have entered the market. Another example may be beta-carotene, the “come-back carotenoid” of the decade.