Without a doubt, Mintel’s new product trends presentation (complete with global new product sample tasting) always is a highlight at Prepared Foods’ annual New Products Conference. On the heels of this year’s event, our Mintel friends already are looking at 2016’s top trends.

Here are a few comments from Mintel Global Food and Drink Analyst Jenny Zegler.

What’s Out?

Artificial: Public Enemy No. 1: “Consumer demands for natural and ‘less processed’ food and drink are forcing companies to remove artificial ingredients. Products that have yet to do so will face scrutiny – or worse – from consumers who are looking for natural formulations with recognizable ingredients.”

What’s In?

Alternatives Everywhere: “Veggie burgers and non-dairy milks have escaped the realm of substitutes primarily for people with dietary concerns and followers of vegetarian diets. Instead, the growing ranks of novel protein sources and potential replacements appeal to the everyday consumer, foreshadowing a profoundly changed marketplace in which what was formerly ‘alternative’ could take over the mainstream.”

Fat Sheds Stigma: “Consumers’ negative stereotype that any and all fat content is evil has begun to diminish. The awareness of the many sources of good and bad fats is ushering in a paradigm shift in which fat content is not the first and foremost consideration – and barrier – in the search for healthy products.”

From the Inside-Out: “As the adage goes with beauty, ‘It’s what’s on the inside that counts.’ Consumers are recognizing that diets can connect with the way they look and feel. This places new emphasis on packaged products that are formulated to help people’s physical appearance as well as their personal wellness, creating a market for products enhanced with everything from collagen to probiotics.”

For Every Body: “For many, fitness is simply about becoming more active. The rising promotion of athletic programs that encourage consumers to get and stay active showcases a parallel need for food and drink that helps consumers get acquainted with sports nutrition. This creates an opportunity for communication and product ranges that progress alongside people’s activity levels and goals.”

Diet by DNA: “Interest in natural and ‘getting back to basics’ has boosted ancient grains and superfoods, fostering a principle that age-old staples are better than today’s manufactured options. Interest in historical ingredients suggests that consumers could make efforts to unlock the keys to their personal physiology and design diets by connecting with their own ancestry or genetic make-up.”

Eat with Your Eyes: “Flavor has long been the core of innovation, but more visual and share-focused societies call for innovation that is boldly colored and artfully constructed. Finding inspiration in global foodservice offerings, brands can experiment with vibrant colors and novel shapes to make packaged products worthy of consumer praise and social media posts.”