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Clean Label Continues to Build Momentum

Our new infographic tracks the latest updates in the clean-label trend. As we have written about before, clean label is not a trend—it’s the rule. As clean label continues to build momentum with consumers, food manufacturing and food service customers are demanding even more support from their food ingredient suppliers. Will food ingredient companies be able to keep up with the demand? Tell us what you think in the comments section below.

CleanLabel infographic

 

 

 

 

 

2014 Flavor Trends Roundup

Flavor Trends

Emerging flavors from Latin America and India, as well as consumers’ growing fascination with chilies will have a big impact in 2014, according to McCormick & Co., Inc.’s Flavor Forecast 2014.

McCormick’s annual report highlights five top food trends and more than a dozen emerging flavors that their experts from around the world predict will impact the way consumers eat in the coming years. One such trend is the growing obsession with chilies. Chilies continue to influence culinary trends as consumers experiment with different varieties and heat levels. Another trend McCormick highlighted was the multiuse of ingredients that can be used in clever new ways such as tea, which is gaining popularity beyond sipping into rubs, broths and marinades; versatile cilantro/coriander; and as well as noodles, which can be incorporated into soups, casseroles, stir fries and salads. McCormick also predicts the emergence of Indian cuisine as a global phenomenon and the growing interest of Brazilian flavors with the World Cup and Summer Olympics approaching as connectivity through social media helps drive adoption of flavors and trends from around the world. Rounding out the top five trends for 2014 are compact cooking and Mexican cuisine as regional dishes from Mexico are coming to the forefront allowing consumers to discover new dimensions of this cuisine south of the border.

According to Spicetec Flavors & Seasonings’ Mainstreaming Global Flavor Trends Market Brief, the world’s cuisine is coming to us. Peruvian cuisine is forecast as having the most impact on menus across the country in 2014. With Peruvian food, many dishes combine the flavors of Asia and South America with bold and spicy being common themes, according to Shane Maack, executive chef, Spicetec Flavors & Seasonings.

As we continue to read about and share with you more interesting predictions for 2014 food industry trends, feel free to leave us a comment with your thoughts and predictions on what trends you think the food industry will see in 2014.

 

Street Food in Europe

[vc_row][vc_column width=”2/3″][container][text_output]Food trucks and street food continue to receive a lot of attention in the United States and have become a leading trend setter in new culinary developments for corporate chefs and the R&D crowd. With all this national buzz, we thought it would be interesting to take a look at how street food translates in Europe, where there are centuries of history in food markets and street food stalls.

Our international food marketing correspondent recently took a European river cruise, stopping off at street food markets in several major cities. Looking through the photos that were sent, we noticed several interesting differences in how street food is prepared and presented in Europe, versus major U.S. cities. Onsite preparation of raw ingredients is usually banned in the U.S., while it is a staple of European street vendors. Products like dairy and eggs, that require refrigeration in the U.S., are just as often presented in open air displays without refrigeration in Europe. Wines and liquors, heavily regulated in the U.S., are much more commonly available in European street markets. The photos below show several interesting examples.[/text_output][/container][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/3″][rev_slider_vc alias=”streetfoodeurope”][/vc_column][/vc_row]

2013 Flavor and Food Ingredient Trends Roundup

Creative use of ethnic flavors and regional themes highlights the newest flavor trends while grains and other high-fiber ingredients are predicted to gain more center-of-the-plate attention in 2013.

flavorTrends2

According to Bell Flavors and Fragrances, regional American and regional Mexican and Latin American flavors will be among the top flavor trends in 2013. Bell Flavors and Fragrances also predicts we’ll see new flavors in beverages based on favorite desserts. However, as the trend of health and wellness continues to grow, Bell Flavors and Fragrances states that consumers will look for functional beverages that have less salt, fat and sugar.

McCormick & Co., Inc. released their annual report, Flavor Forecast 2013, giving a spotlight to the emerging trends. According to their report, trends and flavors will take root in cultures spanning Asia, Australia, Europe, Africa, Latin America and North America. McCormick’s executive chef, Kevan Vetter, pointed out that they are seeing a fascinating collision of tradition and innovation with authentic real ingredients still at the core—though now they’re being enjoyed in unique, updated ways to reflect a much more personalized approach to cooking and eating.

From their digital resource library and MenuMonitor database, Technomic stated a variety of grains are being identified as “playing star roles on trendy menus.” They also noted that a number of grains are being nudged to the forefront as part of the movement to gluten-free eating. Along with their prediction around grains, Technomic also predicted that ramen, udon, soba, rice noodles and other high-fiber grains will show up in soups and mixed-texture salads.

This is the third 2013 trends roundup blog we’ve posted. Are there any additional 2013 food trend predictions you’ve read? If so, feel free to leave us a comment below.

2013 Consumer Food Trends Roundup: Health and Wellness

Consumer

As more 2013 food trends have flooded the news, a common theme regarding consumers resonates: health and wellness.

According to Dr. Catherine Adams Hutt, RD, from Sloan Trends, younger people are thinking more about energy, body image, shape and tone; everyone is thinking about weight management and curbing hunger pangs between meals; and boomers want to stay energetic, strong and active as they age. Therefore, she feels protein will be the trend in 2013 across all age groups.

Innova Market Insights, part of the Innova Database, an online new product development tracking tool, also listed a protein overdrive in their lineup of 2013 trends. They also believe that there will be more “free-from” claims becoming increasingly prevalent, such as lactose-free, which will follow the now mainstream gluten-free set. Innova Market Insights also sees brain function remaining a top concern for the aging population, so we should expect more products on a cognitive health platform.

Studies from the NPD Group also show that nutrition and healthy eating habits are top meal-planning priorities for baby boomers. With that in mind, we can expect to see more heart-healthy antioxidant-rich foods taking over the supermarkets, including oily fish such as salmon, as well as green tea, sweet potatoes, dark leafy greens, popcorn, berries and whole grains.

According to Phil Lempert, the Supermarket Guru, smaller bites and more frequent eating patterns will be a trend in 2013 that will help reduce overall portion size and increase variety for consumers. Lempert also predicts that frozen food will be big in 2013, and there will be an increased emphasis on nutrition in frozen food as consumers continue to make fewer meals from scratch.

Paul Grimwood, chairman and CEO of Nestlé USA stated that it is clear consumers are much more health conscious today than ever before. He also noted that Nestlé USA will always strive to find new and innovative ways to help consumers lead a healthier, more enjoyable life.

 

 

Sodium Reduction Pressure Increases on Food Manufacturers

Food manufacturers are under increasing pressure to lower sodium in their products as more cities, states and national health organizations partner to work towards reduction of salt in packaged and restaurant foods.

salt-blood-pressure-guage

In 2010, the National Salt Reduction Initiative (NSRI), a voluntary, national initiative to reduce the levels of salt in foods by as much as 25 percent over the next five years, was conceived by health officials in New York. After two years, the initiative still has cities, states and organizations hopping on board, putting pressure on food manufacturers to lower the sodium content in their products. In January 2012, the Arizona Department of Health Services joined the initiative and is working to educate health practitioners, seniors, parents, children and all residents about the dangers of too much salt in the diet. According to the NSRI, if the national initiative is successful, it could prevent 10,000 deaths annually which are caused by high blood pressure and associated diseases.

Aside from the NSRI, the Center for Science in the Public Interest recently sent a letter to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) criticizing them for not introducing mandatory sodium reduction levels. As diets continue to be too high in sodium, contributing to tens of thousands of premature deaths each year and billions in medical costs, the FDA has not taken any action to control the salt in packaged or restaurant foods. In the letter, it stated that upwards of 100,000 lives could be saved annually if sodium levels in packaged and restaurant foods were halved.

For food manufacturers, the pressure isn’t going to let up. In fact, it’s going to continue to get stronger. Reducing the salt levels in packaged and restaurant foods will increase consumer choice. Anyone can add more salt at the table, but consumers can’t remove what was added during production.

Nu-Tek Executives See Different Attitudes on Sodium Reduction

In a recent Food Business News article, Donald Mower, president and chief operating officer of Nu-Tek Salt, and Thomas Manuel, Nu-Tek founder and chief executive officer, discussed the status of the sodium reduction market.

NuTekTeam.165430

According to Mower, not all segments of the processed foods industry are addressing public concerns about sodium in food with the same level of seriousness. He views makers of processed meat and poultry as early adapters of sodium reduction and sees the management of those companies recognizing it as something they need to address. Mower also states that other important food categories are lagging in their efforts, but feels they’ll make progress.

Mower addresses the cheese and dairy category as being number two behind processed meat and poultry in their efforts to reduce sodium, and he views bakery being the furthest behind. But, with the announcement from the Centers for Disease Control showing bakery as the number one source of sodium in the diet, Mower believes there will be more recognition that the bakery industry needs to move on sodium reduction.

Sodium Reduction Pressure Increases on Food Manufacturers

Food manufacturers are under increasing pressure to lower sodium in their products as more cities, states and national health organizations partner to work towards reduction of salt in packaged and restaurant foods.

Sodium Pressure

In 2010, the National Salt Reduction Initiative (NSRI), a voluntary, national initiative to reduce the levels of salt in foods by as much as 25 percent over the next five years, was conceived by health officials in New York. After two years, the initiative still has cities, states and organizations hopping on board, putting pressure on food manufacturers to lower the sodium content in their products. In January 2012, the Arizona Department of Health Services joined the initiative and is working to educate health practitioners, seniors, parents, children and all residents about the dangers of too much salt in the diet. According to the NSRI, if the national initiative is successful, it could prevent 10,000 deaths annually which are caused by high blood pressure and associated diseases.

Aside from the NSRI, the Center for Science in the Public Interest recently sent a letter to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) criticizing them for not introducing mandatory sodium reduction levels. As diets continue to be too high in sodium, contributing to tens of thousands of premature deaths each year and billions in medical costs, the FDA has not taken any action to control the salt in packaged or restaurant foods. In the letter, it stated that upwards of 100,000 lives could be saved annually if sodium levels in packaged and restaurant foods were halved.

For food manufacturers, the pressure isn’t going to let up. In fact, it’s going to continue to get stronger. Reducing the salt levels in packaged and restaurant foods will increase consumer choice. Anyone can add more salt at the table, but consumers can’t remove what was added during production.

Consumers Reducing Sodium

As the sodium-reduction trend continues to grow, so does consumer awareness and concern over the high levels of sodium in the processed foods they eat.

Consumers Cut Sodium

Since the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announcement in early February, many consumers have become more aware of the need to reduce sodium in their diets. According to a recent Mintel report, about half (52 percent) of American adults are currently watching their diet, and 15 percent of them are doing so due to their concerns about salt intake. It was also reported that 44 percent of consumers always or usually consult the Nutrition Facts Panel and/or ingredient list to look at sodium when considering foods.

The number of consumers consulting those labels will increase in 2012 as the new Facts Up Frontnutrient-based labeling system takes off. With this system, sodium content will become more visible to consumers, making it easier for them to make healthy decisions when purchasing food. It will also increase the pressure on food manufacturers to implement sodium reductions in their products.

Gluten-free Food Trends 2012

Gluten-free food continues to be a hot topic in the industry. Mintel, the independent provider of world-leading market intelligence, recently published their first “Gluten-free Foods” report.

glutenfree

The retail gluten-free food market has grown tremendously over the past couple of years with retail sales reaching an estimated $6.1 billion in 2011. According to Mintel, additional factors driving the sales of gluten-free food include the improved taste of products, consumer perception that it’s better for you than traditional food, trendiness, and interest in natural and organic food and beverages.

The Mintel research also showed that wheat allergies affect only a minority of people, but celiac disease is on the rise. Only 1 percent of consumers say they’ve been diagnosed with celiac disease and just 8 percent overall say they are gluten intolerant/sensitive. However, research leads Mintel to believe that many consumers may not realize they are gluten intolerant/sensitive or may be ignoring the signs and symptoms. So the 8 percent overall is probably closer to 15 percent.

As research shows, the gluten-free market isn’t going away; therefore, food companies have significant opportunities to further market their products and capitalize on providing the information, support and products gluten avoiders are searching for.

Ethnic Food Trends for 2012

Ethnic food trends have been a topic of discussion in the industry lately. According to a recent Mintel report, an authentic flavor is the most important factor for consumers when buying or eating ethnic foods. Ethnic foodies also placed importance on all-natural, premium/gourmet or artisanal and reduced fat characteristics in their purchasing decisions.

Ethnic Foods2

According to Mintel, a leading global supplier of consumer, product and media intelligence, ethnic food preparation and consumption have been on the rise over the past several years and will continue to grow. In 2011, ethnic food sales reached nearly $3 billion in sales due to an increasingly diverse population and more frequent home cooking.

When it comes to making ethnic fare at home, Mintel found that a majority of Americans cook Italian dishes. However, Italian cuisine has become so common in the U.S., it’s hardly considered ethnic anymore. Mexican and Chinese food are also common creations whipped up in Americans’ kitchens. There is even a small group of American’s cooking at home that feel one specific ethnicity of food isn’t enough, so they are going “fusion” by mixing elements from various culinary traditions.

Along with the common ethnic food offerings, Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cuisine have both seen robust growth in the past year. They are both expected to grow in popularity based on their healthy and convenient positioning.

In today’s market, Americans have more exposure to diverse cultures. So the bar is set high when it comes to what ethnic foods consumers will feel confident about incorporating into their home meal plans. Mintel stresses that marketers must focus on strong new products that will attract consumer attention and give an authentic dining experience that’s convenient and reasonably priced.

Greek Yogurt is the New Celebrity Ingredient

According to a recent article in the Wall Street Journal, Greek yogurt is becoming a refrigerator staple as consumers seek healthy, “authentic” foods, even though it’s often pricier. In fact, Greek yogurt now accounts for a quarter of the sales in the total yogurt market. In an article posted by the Los Angeles Times, Greek yogurt, overall, has had one of the fastest growth spurts the food and beverage industry has seen in years.

A recent social media post introducing Yasso’s Greek yogurt smoothies sparked a lot of discussion around Greek yogurt and its newfound popularity. Greek yogurt is on an accelerated growth spurt and many popular brands are modifying their products to keep up.

Ben&JerrysGreekYogurt

The increase in popularity behind Greek yogurt led to Ben & Jerry’s latest introduction of their new line of frozen treats. According to their recent press release, four new flavors contain real Greek Yogurt. The new flavors of yogurt, still regarded as indulgent desserts, reap the benefits of containing real Greek yogurt. Greek yogurt is made through a traditional straining process allowing more of the whey to drain out, leaving a thicker, smoother yogurt that’s high in protein and low in fat.

Expect to see more brands incorporating Greek yogurt into their health and wellness products. There always seems to be at least one “Celebrity Ingredient” in the market and Greek yogurt looks to be it for 2012.

National Starch New Ingredient Guide

The choices are endless for food manufacturers when it comes to finding ingredients for new products, improving existing formulations or when looking to save on costs through ingredient replacement or processing efficiencies. To help make these decisions easier, the National Starch Food Innovation/Corn Products International recently published the 2012 edition of its “How to Choose Food Starches” guide.

NS-HowtoGuide4

The guide cross-references a broad line of ingredients with applications across all prepared food and beverage categories. It’s arranged by food segments and divided into subsegments for ease of navigation. Whether the goal is to improve texture, increase shelf life, have a clean label status, enhance nutrition or optimize processing costs, this helpful, user-friendly booklet provides a range of solutions for customers’ formulation needs.

Not only is the guide easy to use, gaining access to it from National Starch Food Innovation’s website is simple. To download a free copy of the booklet, all that’s required is your name, company name and email address. They even give you the option to opt-in to their email list.

The tools and resources don’t stop there. If there are still questions as to which ingredient to choose,National Starch Food Innovation’s technical service team, sensory experts, culinologists, nutritionists and marketers provide hands-on support to help create an ingredient system that will deliver the best results.

National Starch Food Innovation/Corn Products International is doing a great job of educating customers and giving them the tools and resources to fully benefit from their products. Are you doing something similar for your customers? We’d love to hear about the support you offer your customers and the feedback you receive. Let us know by commenting below!

CDC Sodium Announcement Gets Super-Bowl-Sized Media Coverage

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) made a major announcement on February 7, 2012 covering the release of their new report on reducing sodium in American diets. The new report featured the top ten sources of sodium in processed food, with the surprising discovery that foods like bread and processed meats are the leading sources of sodium in consumer diets.

CDC

The announcement drew massive media coverage demonstrating once again that reducing sodium in our diets is a major concern for the American consumer. It’s been estimated that during the course of the seven to ten day news cycle, over 120 million Americans will see or hear a media story on the CDC announcement. That’s nearly 60 percent of adults over the age of 25 and exceeds the audience for the recent Super Bowl.

In a survey sponsored by Nu-Tek Salt, LLC, Universal Information Services estimated that 63.1 million adults saw or heard a feature story on the CDC announcement during the first 36 hours of the news cycle, when 50 percent of impressions are usually recorded. Based on that sampling, the survey estimates 126.2 million impressions total for the full news cycle.

The early coverage was dominated by television, with feature stories appearing on all of the major broadcast and cable networks. Leading the pack was a featured lead story from Brian Williams on the NBC Nightly News.

Media coverage of sodium-reduction efforts has been steadily increasing for several years now. With the Super-Bowl-sized coverage for the CDC sodium-reduction announcement, even more American consumers will be aware of the need to lower sodium in their diets. This could prove to be one of the tipping points for the sodium reduction and replacement ingredient market in food processing and manufacturing.

Flavor Trends for 2012

SpicesDuring our quest to uncover top flavor trends for 2012, we found a helpful Mintel Report, titled “Innovation on the Menu: Flavor Trends.” Mintel is a research company that provides market intelligence and analysis for the food industry.

This report reminds us that creating satisfying, flavorful dishes remains every chef’s top tactic to encourage repeat customers. Manufacturers and suppliers are also responsible for menu development and spotting the latest in food trends.

According to Mintel’s report, here are some of the top 2012 flavor trends:

  • American, Italian, Mexican and Pan Asian flavors are picking up in popularity.
  • The use of garlic flavoring in foods is on the increase.
  • Spicy and smoked hints of flavor are becoming very appealing towards customers.
  • Comfort foods are one of the top-predicted cuisines this year.

The Mintel report also provides flavor, ingredients and price trends from the menus of the largest 350 chain restaurants, 150 largest independent restaurants, 50 restaurants run by top chefs, and 25 beverage-focused restaurants. Visit www.mintel.com for more information.

2012 Restaurant Food Trends Round-Up

2012-New-Year

As usual, around this time of the year, publications, consultants and organizations are submitting their predictions for 2012’s food trends and popular developments.

Let’s have a look at a few notable sources and their 2012 predictions:

The Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) released a report from Technomic, a foodservice research and consulting firm, speculating that many of the upcoming foodservice trends relate to the unstable economy. For example, customers are not interested in taking risks, so look for novel and comfort foods to take on a twist, and for innovative foods to take on a more familiar look. There will be greater emphasis on cooking with seasonal and local items, as well as keeping the focus on simple and classic applications. It is also reported that more customers will demand transparency, as they want to know more about the ingredients, allergens and origins of their food. More consumers are also taking to social media to review and recommend their restaurant experience with the public.

Nation’s Restaurant News, a media network for the restaurant industry, reports that Thai cuisine and street-style Indian food will be among 2012’s hottest food trends, as more of the countries popular ingredients go mainstream. Savory-flavored ice creams, hand-pulled noodles and infused liquors are also expected to rise in popularity, according to the report.

Restaurant Hospitality, a website dedicated to the success of full-service restaurants for chefs and commercial foodservice professionals, also cites the economy for the reason that stand-alone restaurants may struggle this year. Even so, the website says a big upcoming trend is incorporating flavors from all over the world, into a single dish. Commentary from the website also suggests that new trends may include sandwich bread alternatives, house-made pickles, and early drinking/late night dining, as the working hours are becoming later and company travel is more abundant. They also mention that odd animal parts (tongue, gizzards, etc.) will begin showing up anywhere from upscale restaurants, to late night bars.

Despite a rougher economy, we have uncovered many interesting food trends expected to debut in 2012. Have you seen any other interesting predictions? Do you agree with the possibility of these new trends? Leave us a comment below and help start the discussion on what is in store for the new year.

 

The Best Sodium-Reduction Ingredient Product? – UPDATE

salt

For the past year, sodium-reduction initiatives and sodium-replacement ingredient products have been one of the main trends in the food ingredient industry. Sales of these ingredients have expanded to significant commercial scale. Our blog posts on low-sodium ingredient trends have been the most viewed and most passionately commented upon, of any current industry trends.

In a February blog post, we identified links to a dozen different sodium-reduction ingredient products. Another post asked the question “What’s the best low-sodium or sodium reduction ingredient product?” In response, we have received dozens of product samples and ingredient company marketing presentations on a wide range of sodium-reduction products and solutions.

Most of these ingredient products are some form of modified potassium chloride with the modifiers masking the off-tastes of the chemical compounds replacing traditional uses of sodium chloride. Another large group continues to use sodium chloride, but modifies the molecule size and structure to increase “salty taste”, while reducing sodium content by using smaller amounts of the sodium chloride. Food Manufacturing customer companies report that they are most interested in application-specific solutions, and that “one size does not fit all” in food applications.

We also received dozens of product samples from various ingredient companies. Nearly all of them were delivered in plain plastic baggies, often with only minimum-printed labels and very little product information. A few that stood out had memorable sample product packaging that included company logos and strong brand identity, along with professional-looking marketing materials.

We see this low-sodium trend continuing in 2012 with the introduction of even more new sodium-reduction ingredient products continuing to crowd the market. Reprinted below is our original post on the subject. What do you think is the best low-sodium or sodium-reduction ingredient product?

Crowded Low-Sodium Ingredient Market Challenges Marketers
Originally posted February 28, 2011
Author: Mark Hughes

Picture1

In the face of increasing pressure from major world-wide health initiatives and looming regulation here in the U.S., food processors in manufacturing and food service have undertaken their own initiatives to reduce the sodium content of their products. Food ingredient marketers have created a wide range of low-sodium and sodium-replacement ingredient products designed to help their customers respond to that challenge. The result is a crowded U.S. marketplace with hundreds of different companies competing for attention.

The 2010 IFT show in Chicago featured over 150 new product announcements for sodium-replacement ingredient products and systems. That trend line is continuing to rise this year with the entry into the U.S. market of several global ingredient companies with new sodium-reduction products like Jungbunzlauer sub4salt, KaliSel potassium chloride and NaturePep from Korea, who gave us the bikini-clad saltshaker.

A common strategy among the ingredient marketers is to brand their low-sodium products with a premium-positioned trade brand name and logo in an effort to differentiate their products from dozens of others with similar properties or chemistry. An example is Cargill’s SaltWise sodium replacement product. Another major player, Danisco, offers a line of application-specific ingredients under its SaltPro brand with products targeted at bakery, cheese and dairy, processed meat and food service applications. Major ingredient suppliers have also added sodium reduction products to their larger portfolios like Wixon Ingredient Company with branded KCLean Salt.

Other new ingredient brands include Smart Salt and Nu-Tek Salt.

Flavor companies have been among the most aggressive ingredient marketers presenting a variety of sodium-reduction solutions built into the flavoring systems they already produce for their customers. Leading flavor companies that have introduced major new low-sodium offerings include Savoury Systems Organic Salt Replacer, Griffith Laboratory’s Custom Culinary and Givaudan’s TasteSoultions Salt.

The trend to lower sodium in processed foods will continue to grow and get even bigger over the next two years. Make sure your low-sodium ingredient products stand out of the crowded ingredient marketplace. Look for our follow-up post on how food ingredient companies can successfully face the challenge of cutting through the clutter in an already-crowded marketplace.

Gluten-free: Trend or Fad? – UPDATE

Gluten-Free

Last March, we ran a blog post that asked the question “Gluten-free—Trend or Fad?” The post received hundreds of comments and responses on our blog, Twitter page, and on a couple dozen different food groups on LinkedIn. The passion on this issue runs high and opinions cross the spectrum from seeing gluten-free as a mainstream market trend, to thinking it’s just a foodie-centric fad du jour. That passion continues among hard core supporters, but the spike in media attention that gluten-free received in 2010 and early 2011 has recently shown signs of decline.

There continues to be new gluten-free products introduced and there is also aggressive market activity, as seen in last month’s announcement that Smart Balance will acquire Glutino Foods Group for $66 million. Nonetheless, several major CPG food manufacturers have reported during recent analyst calls that they have failed to see significant commercial volume for gluten-free products and still consider the category a niche market. Reprinted below is our original post on the subject that summarizes many of the primary arguments and sources for the gluten-free debate. What do you think? What is your update on the question “Gluten-free: Trend or Fad?”

Originally posted March 21, 2011
Author: Jennifer Scott

In a February article on foodproductdesign.com, it appears the gluten-free food trend is still on the up-and-up. In fact, the sector is projected to grow to $6 billion by 2015. The article also suggests that this rise in popularity has to do with a few factors:

  1. An increase in diagnosis for Celiac Disease (CD)—In a medscape.com article dated July 2010, Mayo Clinic research confirmed CD diagnosis was up four-fold worldwide, thus dramatically increasing the number of people who were recommended a gluten-free diet for medical purposes.
  2. Evidence suggesting a gluten-free diet can relieve autism in children and adult rheumatoid arthritis—According to a webmd.com article, while very little research has been done, parents are incorporating a gluten-free diet and reporting improvements in their autistic children’s symptoms. And a study was conducted a couple of years ago by Arthritis Research & Therapy concluding a gluten-free diet helped reduce the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis.
  3. The belief that gluten-free is a “healthy” way of life—The gluten-free diet is something that a lot celebrities have been adapting, and is believed by many to help people lose weight. The ABC network did a special feature in November of 2010 on gluten-free as a health trend, highlighting both the positives and negatives of a gluten-free diet. Click here to check it out.

Not everyone is convinced the gluten-free trend will stick around. For example, Suzy Badaracco, president of Culinary Tides—a site devoted to tracking industry movements and its influence on food, flavor and health trends—believes that gluten-free followers who have chosen a gluten-free diet based on the belief that it is a healthier option are likely to stop purchasing and consuming gluten-free products—and she predicts it will happen quickly. Read more here. Also, in a U.S. News Healtharticle, the gluten-free diet is believed to be “a cure for some” and “a fad for most.” Read the entire article here. While it looks like the gluten-free trend is still alive and well, keep in mind that what you could be seeing is a fad. And, as we all know, fads die. And most often quickly.

What’s the Best Low-Sodium or Sodium-Reduction Ingredient Product?

salt-demon

Our recent blog post included a dozen links to different ingredient companies with low-sodium or sodium-replacement products.

Click here to read a Food Processing article about “America’s Assault on Salt.”

What do you think is the best ingredient product on the market to customers looking for low-sodium or sodium-replacement ingredients?

Comment and share here. We will review the best of the marketplace in a future round-up post on our blog.

Image courtesy of Food Processing, a Putman Media property.

New Dietary Guidelines Bring Opportunity for Food Ingredient Companies

The latest Dietary Guidelines for Americans were released in January 2011 and focused industry attention on the need for food manufacturers and food service operators to continue improving the health and nutritional profiles of their products to keep up with the new standards. Food ingredient marketers that sell ingredient products to these customers will have several opportunities to help their customers develop products that meet the goals of the new Guidelines.

  1. Reduced salt and sodium– Manufacturers are continuing to reduce sodium levels in their products and food ingredient marketers have the opportunity to create real value for customers with replacement products and solution systems that deliver lower sodium while maintaining taste and manufacturing efficiency. Successful sodium reduction products have focused on specific applications like bakery or processed meats where the emphasis is on the customer’s brand.
  2. Reduced sugars and sweeteners– Opportunities are abound for ingredient and flavor companies that can help customers develop new approaches to sweetening food and beverage products. The focus will be on applications that help customers improve their overall nutritional profiles while simplifying their labels and ingredient statements.
  3. Healthy school lunch programs– School food service providers will be highly motivated by new federal support programs that reward them for getting healthier products into their lunch menus and snack programs. Expect to see increasing use of stealth ingredients to meet the higher standards without telling the kids they are eating “healthy” foods.

Savvy food ingredient marketers and flavor companies are already expanding their product portfolios to take advantage of these new opportunities. Expect to see an increase in aggressive trade marketing as ingredient companies fight for the attention of the major food manufacturing and food service customers.

To read the specific recommendations in the new Dietary Guidelines for Americans, click here.

 

Gluten-free: Trend or Fad?

In a February article on foodproductdesign.com, it appears the gluten-free food trend is still on the up-and-up. In fact, the sector is projected to grow to $6 billion by 2015. The article also suggests that this rise in popularity has to do with a few factors:

  1. An increase in diagnosis for Celiac Disease (CD)—In a medscape.com article dated July 2010, Mayo Clinic research confirmed CD diagnosis was up four-fold worldwide, thus dramatically increasing the number of people who were recommended a gluten-free diet for medical purposes.
  2. Evidence suggesting a gluten-free diet can relieve autism in children and adult rheumatoid arthritis—According to a webmd.com article, while very little research has been done, parents are incorporating a gluten-free diet and reporting improvements in their autistic children’s symptoms. And a study was conducted a couple of years ago by Arthritis Research & Therapy concluding a gluten-free diet helped reduce the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis.
  3. The belief that gluten-free is a “healthy” way of life—The gluten-free diet is something that a lot celebrities have been adapting, and is believed by many to help people lose weight. The ABC network did a special feature in November of 2010 on gluten-free as a health trend, highlighting both the positives and negatives of a gluten-free diet. Click here to check it out.

Not everyone is convinced the gluten-free trend will stick around. For example, Suzy Badaracco, president of Culinary Tides—a site devoted to tracking industry movements and its influence on food, flavor and health trends—believes that gluten-free followers who have chosen a gluten-free diet based on the belief that it is a healthier option are likely to stop purchasing and consuming gluten-free products—and she preditcs it will happen quickly. Read more here. Also, in a U.S. News Healtharticle, the gluten-free diet is believed to be “a cure for some” and “a fad for most.” Read the entire article here.

While it looks like the gluten-free trend is still alive and well, keep in mind that what you could be seeing is a fad. And, as we all know, fads die. And most often quickly.

Crowded Low-Sodium Ingredient Market Challenges Marketers

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In the face of increasing pressure from major world-wide health initiatives and looming regulation here in the U.S., food processors in manufacturing and food service have undertaken their own initiatives to reduce the sodium content of their products. Food ingredient marketers have created a wide range of low-sodium and sodium-replacement ingredient products designed to help their customers respond to that challenge. The result is a crowded U.S. marketplace with hundreds of different companies competing for attention.

The 2010 IFT show in Chicago featured over 150 new product announcements for sodium-replacement ingredient products and systems. That trend line is continuing to rise this year with the entry into the U.S. market of several global ingredient companies with new sodium-reduction products like Jungbunzlauer sub4salt, KaliSel potassium chloride and NaturePep from Korea, who gave us the bikini-clad saltshaker.

A common strategy among the ingredient marketers is to brand their low-sodium products with a premium-positioned trade brand name and logo in an effort to differentiate their products from dozens of others with similar properties or chemistry. An example is Cargill’s SaltWise sodium replacement product. Another major player,Danisco, offers a line of application-specific ingredients under its SaltPro brand with products targeted at bakery, cheese and dairy, processed meat and food service applications. Major ingredient suppliers have also added sodium reduction products to their larger portfolios like Wixon Ingredient Company with branded KCLean Salt.

Other new ingredient brands include Smart Salt and Nu-Tek Salt.

Flavor companies have been among the most aggressive ingredient marketers presenting a variety of sodium-reduction solutions built into the flavoring systems they already produce for their customers. Leading flavor companies that have introduced major new low-sodium offerings include Savoury Systems Organic Salt Replacer, Griffith Laboratory’s Custom Culinary and Givaudan’s TasteSoultions Salt.

The trend to lower sodium in processed foods will continue to grow and get even bigger over the next two years. Make sure your low-sodium ingredient products stand out of the crowded ingredient marketplace. Look for our follow-up post on how food ingredient companies can successfully face the challenge of cutting through the clutter in an already-crowded marketplace.

 

The “Corn Sugar” Debate

no-high-fructose-corn-syrupThe debate on renaming “high fructose corn syrup (HFCS)” to “corn sugar” has continued to grow. In an attempt to clarify the labeling of food products for consumers, and to deter the belief that HFCS is any worse than actual sugar, the Corn Refiners Association has created some marketing pieces that were handed out during the 2010 International Baking Industry Exposition. There were two one-page handouts—one quick and to the point on why HFCS should be called “corn sugar,” and the other detailing how HFCS is used and how difficult it can be to even reach the daily recommended intake. In addition to the handouts, the Corn Refiners Association put together a press release for either a visitor’s own use, or to give to their local third-party publications. All together, the association’s attempts were well thought out, not only in informing people at the show, but also encouraging, as well as preparing, them to spread the word. Learn more about the fight at www.sweetsurprise.com.

Gilroy Foods & Flavors, ConAgra Mills Utilize E-mail Blast Tactic

GilroyThanksIn our April 1 post about customer events at trade shows, we note a follow-up e-mail campaign that was used by Gilroy Foods & Flavors and ConAgra Mills to further engage prospects. Two e-mail blasts were developed: one sent to those who attended and one sent to those who were unable to attend. Each message directed the prospects to the event menu list with featured ingredients, a survey and a sample order form.

Utilizing a survey is a great way to gauge prospects’ expectations, identify how well the event was received and if anything could be improved upon. These shows have been a huge success year over year, and this kind of knowledge helps marketers enhance their communications. The exclusive sample offer accompanying the survey provides an added-value offering to the prospect who liked what they tasted at the event.

General Mills Capitalizes on Gluten-Free Trend

gfreeIt’s no secret that gluten-free products are a major trend in the food ingredient industry right now. Ingredient companies are offering a wider range of products to manufacturers that are enhancing nutrition and flavor profiles across the board. The budding question surrounds the longevity of the category. Is it just a trend? The growing number of consumers suffering from Celiac Disease or are gluten-intolerant would argue the need for gluten-free products isn’t a dieting fad but one they rely on to lead healthy and symptom-free lives.

The numbers of products that come to market are dependent on manufacturers’ ability to spend sufficient marketing dollars to sell the lines through the channels. General Mills has invested a significant amount of resources into its gluten-free-specific Web site at liveglutenfreely.com. This Web site provides an extensive list of available General Mills gluten-free products, features bloggers from different consumer demographics, provides recipes and a gift box full of the hottest products. Communications such as these can only enhance consumers’ access to gluten-free products, and will build credibility, trust and respect for the brand.

Additional Resources:
For those of you who want more info about the gluten-free market, RC Fine Foods is sponsoring a FREE Webinar “Growth and Opportunity in the Gluten-Free Market” on August 18, at 2 p.m. EST, moderated by Beckee Moreland of the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness.

Also, join in the discussion on our FIMC LinkedIn group. The post is under “Gluten-Free Market Growing in Popularity.”

IFT Online Tools Generate Buzz for Ingredient Marketers

IFT 2The 2010 IFT show in Chicago presented its widest range of online tools yet, providing attendees with multiple opportunities to connect and communicate. Savvy food ingredient marketers took advantage of the IFT online presence to promote their show offerings, and drive traffic to their booths.

In a previous blog post we reviewed the IFT’s tools that helped attendees prepare a personalized show guide and send e-mail meeting invitations to exhibitors and other participants. Several major food ingredient companies told me that they had received multiple meeting requests from the ChripEvite e-mail tool.

In addition to the preshow planning tools, IFT offered a full suite of social media sites where attendees could post information, comment on presentations and exhibits, and communicate with one another. The integrated social media platform included sites on Twitter, Facebook, Flickr and LinkedIn. The LinkedIn discussion group included over 3,700 members who actively posted and discussed their IFT experiences.  A steady stream of Twitter posts and Flickr photos was prominently displayed on a large video screen kiosk just outside the main entrance.

Several food ingredient companies took advantage of IFT’s online platform to actively promote their presence at the show. Companies announced giveaways and demonstrations taking place at their booths. There were also multiple posts with announcements on new products and ingredient applications that provided links to additional content and information. Prominent ingredient marketers using the tools included National Starch, Monsanto, Innova and David Michael & Co.

All of these tools and examples of food ingredient company activity can be accessed through the IFT portal site.

Sargento Site Offers Customers New Idea Center

sargentoWhen it comes to customizing products, Sargento takes the … cheese. Sargento Food Ingredients offers customers a way to create customized products in its Food Ingredients Idea Center. “You bring the idea; they supply the ingredients.” Choose a product category, such as cheese, sauce or filling, and then mix and match flavors of your choice. It even offers “Better for You” ingredients, so you can concoct a healthier option. Once you’ve chosen flavors, select delivery options, including size and packaging. Whether you have something in mind or the options help you come up with something new, meal kits have never been so easily customizable.

Be the Innovator—Supply Your Customers with Ideas & Recipes

Recipes_imgBonici Pizza Brand, a product line of Tyson Food Services, offers its customers a recipe collection that takes the Bonici brand beyond the standard pizza or pasta. Each recipe volume is stuffed full—pun intended—with new and unique recipes and tips on how to use Bonici products in an innovative way. All recipe volumes are available as a downloadable, high-quality PDF with mouthwatering food photography. Recipes include ingredients, quantities and baking instructions. Because of the recipe collections, Bonici customers have the option of making and serving more flavorful, innovative dishes, while Bonici increases customer loyalty satisfaction, product interest and overall sales. Leave it to Tyson to once again think outside the circle.

Low-Sodium Efforts Show Conundrum for Food Marketers

salt-shaker-spilledLow-sodium ingredient products have received a lot of attention recently, as mainstream media have begun to cover growing, nationwide efforts to reduce sodium in consumer food products. One such report covered by the Institute of Medicine on strategies to reduce sodium intake in the United States received widespread coverage. The report was a response to growing concern that Americans consume unhealthy amounts of sodium in their food, far exceeding public health recommendations.

Sodium reduction efforts have focused on processed foods in CPG manufacturing channels, as well as in food service. Nationwide campaigns like the National Salt Reduction Initiative, led by New York City, are attracting major food manufacturers who want to reduce sodium levels in their products ahead of any possible regulation by the FDA. All of this attention has created new opportunities for ingredient marketers who have low-sodium ingredient technologies and products. Several major ingredient companies have told us that they have seen significant increases in sales of their low-sodium product offerings.

While there is general concern among consumers about how much sodium they consume, this concern is not being reflected through actual consumer buying behavior in the marketplace. The NPD Group recently reported that the level of sodium concern is not as high as it was two decades ago, and the number of consumers eating low-sodium foods has steadily declined. This gap between aspiration and actual buying behavior represents a difficult marketing challenge for both manufacturers and ingredient producers.

In the end, consumer behavior will drive the marketplace for low-sodium products. Possible regulation could have an impact on short-term new product introductions, but consumers will ultimately decide how much salt they really want in their food.

Communications for Sustainability Programs

Sustainability programs and eco-friendly initiatives are gaining traction at many major food ingredient companies. The reason for the growing attention can be traced to the success of high-profile programs like Wal-Mart’s “Sustainability 360” program that reduced packaging and shipping costs $2.4 million last year; or Nestle Waters Arrowhead and Poland Springs bottled-water brands that reduced plastic use by 15%, while reducing manufacturing and shipping costs.

Several food ingredient companies have told me that they have started cross-functional, multidisciplinary teams to develop sustainability initiatives. Marketing communication managers at Monsanto, and at sister company Solae, were recently assigned senior roles on their company’s sustainability teams and were tasked with communicating new programs to various stakeholder and customer audiences.

ADM recently published its first corporate responsibility report including an overview of the “Doing It Right” sustainability initiative. A press release on the report got coverage in the food ingredient trade magazines and offered a direct link to the complete report on-line.

I fully expect that the food ingredient channel will see a sharp increase over the first half of 2010 in communications campaigns supporting new sustainability programs. Industry marcom execs will be challenged to expand their communications to a wider variety of internal and external audiences including stakeholders, customers and consumers. Food ingredient companies will need to consider more comprehensive communications plans that integrate multiple tactics including trade news coverage, advertising, social networks, e-mail marketing, partnerships and more.

For additional information on corporate sustainability initiatives, check out the white paper from Korn/Ferry International.

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