Topping the trends

by Lawrence Aylward
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ARNHEM, The Netherlands – It’s no surprise among meat and poultry processors that clean labeling has made its mark this year. It seems more processors are getting on board with clean labeling as more consumers learn about it.

According to Innova Market Insights, the clean-eating trend has inspired a back-to-basics approach in product development and is an overarching theme in its Top 10 Trends list for 2016. New global products tracked with “organic” claim rose from 6.3 percent in the first half of 2013 to 9.5 percent in the first half of 2015. A surge in “free from” launches and “flexitarian” options also was reported.

“Clean and clear labeling and ‘free from’ foods have all gained traction and moved on to the next level during 2015,” reports Lu Ann Williams, director of innovation at Innova Market Insights. “Other emerging trends for 2016 include the rise of the part-time vegetarian (‘flexitarian’) consumer, interest in a return to food processing the natural or old-fashioned way, the search for permissible indulgence and the re-establishment of links to ‘real’ food.”

Top trends for 2016 are:

Organic growth for clear label: Clear label established itself as a key trend in 2015, with greater transparency and the focus on simpler products with fewer artificial additives taking clean label to the next level.

Free from for all: Many consumers don’t actually need products that are free from gluten, wheat and dairy, but are demanding them anyway, as they believe them to be healthier. Industry has little choice but to respond and the recent surge in mainstream gluten free products has been incredible.

The “flexitarian” effect: The rise of part-time vegetarians, who have reduced their meat consumption because of health, sustainability and animal welfare concerns, is having a major impact on new product activity. This includes the technological development and promotion of better-tasting products more reminiscent of meat, as well as the use of alternative protein sources and more animal-friendly processes.

Processing the natural way: Established food processing practices that have been around for centuries are in the spotlight. They bring with them a natural and authentic image to counteract some of the negative perceptions of heavily processed foods. The health benefits of fermented foods are seeing increasing awareness among western consumers. Newer technologies such as high pressure pasteurization may also succeed if they are seen as a fresh alternative to use preservatives.

Green light for vegetables: Consumers know that they need to eat more greens, but shy away because of taste expectations. Children can be encouraged to eat more through hidden vegetable products, while the rise of fusion smoothies and high vegetable pastas.

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