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Innova Market Insights’ top five trends for the coming year have implications for companies producing and processing meat and poultry products

ARNHEM, The Netherlands — The “October surprise” that was Tyson Foods Inc.’s announced acquisition of a 5 percent ownership stake in Beyond Meat, a manufacturer of meat-alternative products that mimic the taste and texture of animal-based proteins, was indicative of findings in a new trends report from the market research company, Innova Market Insights. The growth of meat alternatives and vegan offerings, labeled as “Disruptive Green,” is near the top of Innova’s top five trends list for 2017, several of which have implications for the meat-processing industry. The No. 1 trend, under the heading of “Clean Supreme,” includes supply-chain claims referencing animal welfare and environmental friendliness as well as the clean label movement, according to the annual trends report.

“Interest in naturalness and clean label continues to feature strongly,” said Lu Ann Williams, director of innovation at Innova Market Insights. “It has become somewhat of a running theme through our trends forecasts in recent years. In 2008, ‘Go Natural’ led our trends list, and since then the theme has featured each year in different forms,” she said. “This year, clean and clear is a theme weaving throughout the entire list, but is specifically the case for trend No. 1.”

Reporting a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 63 percent for new product launches with a plant-based theme from 2011 to 2015, offerings of animal-sourced meat products and milk are giving way to plant-based alternatives, according to Innova. “Disruptive Green” is No. 2 on Innova’s list of trends impacting the food industry in the coming year. Meat and poultry processors will be challenged to either increase efforts to market the benefits of animal-based products as alternatives become more prominent or, like Tyson, invest in this segment with new products or partnerships.  

The other three trends in the report address the scrutiny over the use of sugar in food and beverages (“Sweeter Balance”); the ongoing emergence of ethnic and culturally authentic foods (“Kitchen Symphony”); and the growing demand among consumers to eat healthier with the goal of feeling better (“Body in Tune”), including “free-from” claims and diets that include paleo and FODMAP.