It’s one thing to step back momentarily and try to “see the big picture.” But what if even that picture looks blurry? Truth is, new product developers probably feel as though today’s food and beverage markets are moving at the speed of light—or at least the speed of life. 

With its 2019 Retail New Products Annual, Prepared Foods takes a more deliberate category-by-category approach and slows down to analyze new tastes, trends and technologies. Meanwhile, it’s also important to put on a different lens—so to speak—and view new market developments more directly in line with consumer behaviors and attitudes. 

In preparing for its annual outlook on 2019, global new products tracker Innova Market Insights identified its top 10 trends influencing all food and beverage categories. These developments certainly express themselves in Prepared Foods’ category overviews. Accordingly, we wanted to share Innova’s list with our readers.

1. Discovery: the Adventurous Consumer

The food and beverage industry is increasingly focusing on satisfying the adventurous consumer. Consumers are moving out of their comfort zones to explore bolder flavors and multisensory food experiences. There is a focus on heightened sensory delivery, often combined with an element of the unexpected.

2. The Plant Kingdom

The plant-based market shows no signs of slowing down. Companies and brands are greening up their portfolios to attract mainstream consumers who want to add more plant-based options into their diets. For many, going plant-based is about achieving a healthy and sustainable balance between meat and vegetables, rather than adopting an all-or-nothing way of eating. 

3. Alternatives to All

As more consumers pay attention to health and sustainability, replacement foods and ingredients are on the rise. Health remains the number one reason to buy food alternatives, with one in two US consumers reporting that health is a reason for buying alternatives to bread, meat or dairy. The search for alternative proteins has resulted in a rising use of black beans, lentils, peas, rice, nuts and seeds, chickpea, and even insects, as protein ingredients for foods. 

4. Green Appeal

The industry is increasingly committing to answering customer expectations around sustainability. This is driving corporate goals, as manufacturers commit to sustainable product and packaging development with a range of initiatives. This includes waste reduction through upcycled ingredients and post-consumer recycling, as well as improved biodegradability and new technology, such as compostable capsules and vegetable inks.

5. Snacking: the Definitive Occasion

For most consumers, snacking is a part of daily life and always has been. What is changing, however, is the way people think about snacking and what is considered a snack. Snacking is no longer the optional extra, but the definitive occasion. It is a central focus of innovation across all food and beverage categories, with 10% average annual growth of global food and beverage launches with a snacking claim over the past five years (CAGR 2013-2017).

6. Eating for Me

Consumers are choosing their fuel more carefully than ever before with foods that are specifically adapted to their needs. Personalized nutrition is on the rise and moving beyond tailored diets. Wearable technology means that we know more and have more personal health key performance indicators on hand than ever before.

7. A Fresh Look at Fiber

There is renewed interest in fiber as consumer interest remains strong. Several recent FDA success stories indicate that greater marketing efforts will go into an area that never seems to tire. Consumers are still mainly consuming fiber for digestive health, but newly discovered health benefits are driving applications too. The health of your gut is no longer a taboo topic and numerous innovators are thriving on gut feeling amid this market dynamic.

8. I Feel Good

Consumers have a rising interest in the role that nutrition can play in supporting emotional and mental wellbeing. For many consumers, mental health is as important as physical health. Food & beverage brands are tapping into this need with “feel good” language, brain health claims and “guilt free” messaging. There is a renewed interest in active ingredients that can benefit the mood, such as omega-3, GABA and gingko biloba. Brands are reaching out to the “mindful consumer” with foods and beverages that satisfy the soul, as well as tackling the appetite.

9. Small Player Mindset

Start-up companies continue to shake up the food and beverage industry, successfully competing against major players who in turn are going small in their strategy. Small players are shaking up the food and beverage industry by taking on the classic FMCG giants in an increasingly high-tech arena. The role of Silicon Valley start-ups in alternative proteins breakthroughs has garnered ample media attention. But the growing significance of small innovators in general is a global phenomenon.

10. Connected to the Plate

Never in history have we been more connected to the plate in front of us. Sharing food and dining pictures is no longer the reserve of a nerdy foodie–“the Instagrammability of food” truly has widespread appeal, particularly among Millennials. Food and beverages are at the heart of many social connections. Technological advances are key enablers for consumers to get closer to their food, literally, but also in terms of transparency, knowledge and chat/sharing on social media.

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