It’s one thing to wipe the slate clean and make a new start. Yet in the food and beverage industry, that’s not exactly what happens when you turn the page on the calendar and start a new year.  That’s because new product development –the art and science of working with new ingredients, new flavors and forms—is ever evolving.

Speaking of “clean” for example, it was a key trend in 2016 that will remain dominant in 2017 says global new products tracker Innova Market Insights, Arnhem, The Netherlands. In fact, Innova says growing calls for transparency throughout the supply chain are taking clean and clear label to a new and supreme level. This comes as the inherent benefits of plant-based products are being active marketed to a more health conscious consumers. Accordingly, “Clean Supreme” and “Disruptive Green” led Innova Market Insights’ Top Ten Trends list for 2017.

“Interest in naturalness and clean label continues to feature strongly,” says Lu Ann Williams, director of innovation at Innova.

“Naturalness and clean label has become somewhat of a running theme through our trends forecasts in recent years,” she adds. “In 2008, ‘Go Natural’ led our trends list, and since then the theme has featured each year in different forms, such as ‘Processed is Out’ in 2011, ‘From Clean to Clear Label’ in 2015 and ‘Organic Growth for Clear Label’ in 2016. This year, clean & clear is a theme weaving throughout the entire list, but is specifically the case for trend #1 (‘Clean Supreme’).”

Innova’s top 5 trends for 2017 are listed below and readers will find examples throughout the pages of this year’s Retail New Products Annual.

1 CLEAN SUPREME: The rules have been rewritten and clean and clear label is the new global standard. The demand for total transparency now incorporates the entire supply chain, as a clean label positioning becomes more holistic. Trending clean supply chain claims include “environmentally friendly,” which has shown a CAGR growth of +72% from 2011-2015 and “animal welfare,” which has grown at +45% per year during this period.

2 DISRUPTIVE GREEN: As plant-based milks, meat alternatives and vegan offerings have rapidly moved into the mainstream, consumers are looking for innovative options to take the inherent benefits of plants into their daily lives. Even dairy companies are now leveraging the functional and technical benefits of plants in new product development, driving more variety and excitement into their category. Innova Market Insights has reported CAGR of +63% for new launches with a plant-based claim from 2011-2015.

3 SWEETER BALANCE: Sugar is under pressure, although it remains the key ingredient delivering the sweetness and great taste that consumers are looking for. The quest to combine taste and health is driving NPD, as the industry faces the challenge of balancing public demand to reduce added sugars and create indulgent experiences, while at the same time presenting clean label products.

4 KITCHEN SYMPHONY: Italian Lasagna is no longer enough – consumers want Melanzane Aubergine Al Forno! The connected world has led consumers of all ages to become more knowledgeable of other cultures. As a result, there is growing demand for greater choice and higher levels of authenticity in ethnic cuisines.

5 BODY IN TUNE: Consumers are increasingly personalizing their own nutrition intake, making food choices based around what they think will make them feel better. They are also experimenting with free from products and specific diets like paleo and low FODMAP. At the same time, consumers continue to increase their intake of foods and beverages with ingredients that they consider to be healthy, like protein and probiotics.

Innova’s remaining trends are “Plain Sophistication” (upgraded basics), “Encapsulated Moments” (foods for certain times), “Beyond Pester Power” (foods specifically for kids), “Fuzzy Borders” (hybrid fusion, new categories), and “Seeds of Change” (growing use of exotic seeds).
Visit www.innovadatabase for more details.  

Originally appeared in the March, 2017 issue of Prepared Foods as 2017 Retail New Products Annual.

2017 Retail New Products Annual