The consumer has spoken and food and beverage marketers are listening! This year’s trends reveal a continued interest in healthy, whole foods and products free from artificial additives. While gluten-free and high protein foods continue to ring up strong sales, there’s a new crop of good-for-you foods entering the marketplace, from anti-oxidant infused beverages to sippable soups. Conscious customers' desire for convenience and products that align with their perception of a healthy lifestyle, continue to drive innovation in the food and beverage categories, including eight trends we explore below.
Beverages with Benefits
First there was kombucha, now there’s the switchel—also known as the switzel, swizzle, ginger-water, haymaker's punch or switchy—it’s a drink made of water mixed with vinegar, and often infused with ginger and other natural flavors. Based on a Colonial American recipe, it’s being promoted as a health tonic and a post-workout electrolyte boosting smart water.
A Cold Brew
We already know that America runs on caffeine, but the cold-brewed trend that began quietly a few years ago is now going mainstream. The process, which involves steeping ground coffee in cold water for 12-14 hours, produces a smooth flavor and more caffeine than traditional coffee. The refrigerated bottles of grab-and-go drinks appeal to artisanal coffee consumers and those looking for a guilt-free afternoon pick-me-up, with flavors like Mexican chocolate and chai.
The fresh, island-inspired flavors of the Hawaiian Islands are predicted to pop in 2016. Themes like luaus and traditional foods like poke and poi may be debuting on the menus of top restaurants around the country.
Consumers want less sugar and more flavor! Fueled by the Greek yogurt craze, brands are going beyond sweet fruit-flavored yogurts and blending savory vegetable-based flavor profiles with international influences. Expect to see yogurt dips that play with Greek, Indian, and Middle Eastern spices and even spicy Mexican habanero and jalapeno.
Chilled, gazpacho style bottled soups were among the top trends at the Fancy Food Show this summer. An extension of the pressed juice craze, these convenient, ready-to-sip soups boast fiber-rich vegetables and low-sodium. Analysts predict health conscious customer's will gobble up the drinkable soups, both for their health benefits as well as convenience.
Flower essences will infuse everything from cheese to chocolate. Look for elderflower, rose, saffron, lavender, and hibiscus elements to bring a new dimension to food and beverages. Although nutritional information on edible flowers isn’t readily available, implied antioxidant properties, vivid colors, and romantic scents may inspire consumers to try something new.
Cocktail culture is inspiring food brands to pair the flavors of beer, wine, and spirits across a variety of categories. Brands are introducing cocktail flavored ice cream, bourbon maple syrup, and condiments that evoke a bold amber-lager to appeal to adult palates and offer something new and interesting.
A Better Kernel
Popcorn has hit its stride. This year, a slew of new popcorn brands were born that offered whole grain, high-fiber snacks that kids would love. And now they’re trying to entice their parents too with sophisticated flavors that include black pepper, truffle, and exotic choices like tandoor yogurt.
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