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2016 Consumer Food Trends Roundup

With 2015 coming to an end, it’s that time to look ahead at what next year’s trends will bring. One thing is certain, consumers seeking food adventures for their taste buds is a trend that is here to stay and is a theme we’re seeing across several trend forecasts.

2016 Consumer Food TrendsIn a recent report from Packaged Facts, in 2016 we can expect to see food preparations that feature bold, spicy and ethnic flavors. When it comes to bold, it’s not just about the exotic Asian flavors—citrus has joined the bold bandwagon along with other tangy flavors like tomatillo and cilantro. In addition to foods with bold flavors, consumers are showing interest in unexpected flavor pairings like vanilla and cardamom, savory and spicy flavors with desserts and confectionary foods.

In looking at the Sterling-Rice Group’s 2016 trends list, the consumer palate will continue to evolve and demand new and adventurous foods. One beverage seeing a revival with start-up brands is Switchels—a drink made with apple cider vinegar, ginger and sweetener. Along with these next generation beverages, we’ll see a resurgence of farmed oysters to meet the demand for sustainable seafood. With millennials showing an increased interest, oyster and raw bars will have a stronger presence in major cities.

According to market researchers at Mintel, alternatives to meat and dairy will be a top consumer priority in 2016. Mintel also predicts consumer demands for ‘less processed’ foods and drinks will continue to force food manufacturers to remove artificial ingredients from their products. With consumers having a better understanding of how diets can affect their appearance and a rising interest in fitness and becoming more active, food manufacturers will be tasked with developing new dishes that have added protein and other nutrients that are vital to building muscle or even muscle repair after exercise.

In Innova Market Insights trend list for 2016, the “clean eating” trend is the overarching theme. This trend is one that has inspired a back-to-basics approach in product development. Innova ranked “organic growth for clear label” as the number one trend for 2016—clear label referring to a greater transparency and focus on simpler products with fewer artificial ingredients and additives. This trend aligns with what Innova labeled as the number four trend, “processing the natural way.” With western consumers increasingly aware of the health benefits of fermented foods, there are newer technologies that may be seen as an alternative to using preservatives in foods.

As we’ve all experienced with trends, some will be more dominant than others. But one thing is for sure, there is a definite shift in consumer behavior that will challenge many food and beverage manufacturers and foodservice operators. It will be interesting to see what will come to the forefront next year in new product innovations and what product developers will bring to the tables to meet consumer demands.

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