Food trends for 2008: Could this year be the tipping point?
January 4, 2008
Are consumer choices (and wallets) finally driving the market toward healthier food choices? Based on recent research studies, it looks like there are some good (and a few not so good) trends on the horizon for the year ahead.
• Junk-free foods: Mintel Global New Products Database predicts companies will be more aggressive in removing additives, preservatives, artificial colors or flavors and “otherwise unknown ingredients” from products to make junk-free claims. YES!
• Naturally nutrient-rich: Even though sales of pumped-up foods and beverages have been soaring, a backlash against heavy fortification may be brewing. Lynn Dornblaser, a new-products analyst for Mintel, predicts that people will be seeking more natural sources of nutrients. This desire for authentic nutrition is what drove the popularity of pomegranates and the acai berry this year. YES!
• Ethical eating: Growing concerns about the environment, animal welfare and fair trade are fueling companies to declare their commitment to these issues on food labels. Foods and beverages with an ethical positioning doubled this year, according to Mintel. With “eating green” predicted to be even bigger in the coming year, stay tuned for a wide range of eco-labels, ranging from carbon footprint and food miles to wild-caught and dolphin-safe. YES!
• Phytonutrients: Move over, antioxidants. The next frontier in nutrition is phytonutrients, according to Elizabeth Sloan, owner of Sloan Trends Inc. These natural plant compounds with names that don’t exactly roll off your tongue — polyphenols, flavonoids, quercetin, lycopene, lutein and anthocyanins — are about to go mainstream, Sloan predicts. YES!
• Better kids food: Worries over childhood obesity and the influence of marketing to kids have forced a new generation of children’s foods. A positive nutritional profile will be the “cost of entry” for getting into the kids’ market, said Dornblaser. She predicts more fruit snacks that actually contain fruit, juice drinks with less sugar and more organic foods for kids. YES!
• Inner beauty: Beauty-from-within products are claiming to erase wrinkles, give you shinier hair and even make your lips look fuller. A collagen-injected marshmallow in Japan promises the plump without the pain. Borba Skin Balance waters at Sephora stores started it all in the United States. Look for a new beauty drink next year from Coca-Cola and L’Oréal. YUK!
• Brain food: Certain food compounds — from omega-3s in fish oils to flavonoids in cocoa — may have the ability to improve memory, sharpen concentration and even reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. Last year, brain claims nearly tripled, according to Datamonitor’s Productscan Online. YES but be careful to select pure, natural sources, not candy bars etc. touting health claims.
• Being good to your gut: It seems we’ve never been more interested in our intestines. Nearly 200 new products touting digestive benefits were introduced this year, according to Datamonitor, an online research firm. Some are fortified with fiber, and others contain probiotics, gut-friendly bacteria. Once limited to yogurt, these beneficial bugs are now in cheese, milk, smoothies, juice, snack bars, cereals and soon chocolate. HMMM! Sounds like a marketing gimmick to me. Stick with organic, unsweetened, yogurt or kefir.
• Foods with fullness: With our collective girth getting worse, Americans will remain hungry for foods that can help them lose weight. Some companies are banking on satiety as the new diet buzzword. Some products are already touting the ability to keep you full — Quaker Weight Control Oatmeal, Kellogg’s Protein Water and LightFull Satiety Smoothie. YUK! Satiety? Who came up with that word? Eat less processed foods, lose weight. It’s a miracle!
• Eating to ease inflammation: Baby boomers are driving the demand for “joint health” foods and beverages. Store shelves will likely be stocked with more products promising pain relief, either from arthritis or exercise. Arthritis supplement glucosamine is already showing up in beverages. YUK. Another marketing trap. Run as fast as you can from “health halo” rip-offs, the exercise will do you more good and you’ll actually feel better.
Remember, what you eat matters – to you, your loved ones, the world. Every purchase is a vote. Chose real over fake, quality over quantity. It will make a positive difference.
Adapted from a list written by Janet Helm/Chicago Tribune