Using ‘naturally healthy’ ingredients in convenient product formats will give them a “health halo” and may boost sales significantly, said Julian Mellentin, director of New Nutrition Business.
But he cautioned against using the word natural. “If you want to be successful, don’t use the word natural on your product,” he said. “You run the risk of getting bogged down in a regulatory minefield – and there are plenty of other ways of communicating the naturalness of your product without ever using the word ‘natural’.”
The other top four trends included: Dairy’s rebirth as a natural wholefood, Protein beyond the tipping point, Energy: an unstoppable global trend and Weight wellness.
Weight management is no longer a special category of foods, said Mellentin. Consumers now think about weight as part of their everyday food choices and as a means of maintaining wellness. It is a trend that is creating winners and losers, he said.
“Unilever’s and Nestlé’s weight management strategies lie in ruins, because they are based on an understanding of the market that was out-of-date five years ago.”
Slim-Fast sales are down 80%, while Nestlé is selling most of its Jenny Craig business, said Mellentin. The most successful entrepreneurs are those who connect to consumers’ desire for an individualised approach based on normal foods, and to the most important trends.
Permission to indulge
As an example, he pointed to the manufacturer thinkThin, which offers products that incorporate five of the top 12 trends. Those are: gluten-free, use minimal sugar, deliver 10g of protein and use natural ingredients, such as dark chocolate, to give people Permission to indulge.
Meanwhile, the growing popularity of the slow energy trend reflected worldwide interest in products delivering ‘slow release’ or sustained energy, following the global success of Belvita breakfast biscuits.
“Although many companies are thinking about slow energy and blood glucose control in relation to diabetes, in fact the biggest opportunity for the food and beverage industry lies in providing sustained energy to the mass market,” said Mellentin. But this was an early-stage trend, and the claims are complex and the consumer messaging is difficult to get right, he added.
Product developers were turning to slowly digestible carbohydrates such as oats, barley, sorghum and millet. And new science was underscoring dairy protein’s role in delivering slow energy.
12 key food, nutrition and health trends
- Nutritionally functional: the biggest trend.
- Dairy: Dairy’s rebirth as a natural whole food.
- Protein: Beyond the tipping point.
- Energy: An unstoppable global trend.
- Weight wellness: Consumer thinking redefines a market.
- Snacking: The snackification of everything.
- Slow energy: A new frontier.
- Sugar: The demonisation of sugar.
- Permission to indulge: A very smart strategy.
- Free-from: The consumer-led trend.
- Seniors: Opportunity for science and smaller companies.
- Kids’ nutrition: Communication, indulgence and naturalness key to Kids’ success.