These eight food, beverage trends will make their mark on 2017-2018

June 19, 2017

The world of food and drink is constantly evolving, and ever more quickly. For food processors, staying relevant and remaining at the forefront of these trends is more important than ever. In a special presentation hosted at the Fruit Logistica trade fair in Germany, UK-based ideas agency thefoodpeople defined the 12 most relevant megatrends for the food and beverage sector. Of those, eight were most fitting for produce processors. Morgan Griffiths, business development manager for thefoodpeople, hosted the talk.

Getting involved

When you were younger, your mother probably told you not to play with your food. Well, things are changing. This rising trend has consumers getting more involved with their food. Whether it’s in the comfort of their own kitchen, using fancy cooking tools and gourmet meal kits or in local diners, consumers are becoming part of the creative process.

Meal kits, in particular, are a rising trend. Embraced for its simplicity and convenience, this business model is especially attractive to the always- on-the-go millennial demographic.

This demographic is also increasingly concerned about food waste. One of the bonuses of meal kits is waste reduction, making it an attractive product to ethical eaters. Generally speaking, though, consumers concerned with personal health are also concerned with the health of the environment. For this reason, companies that create meal kits will also want to consider environmentally sustainable packaging.

Bilder & De Clercq in The Netherlands and Purple Carrot in Boston provide good examples of companies that address this trend from an ethical and environmental standpoint.

Post-modernist 

Turatti’s Streamer was nominated for an innovation award at this year’s Fruit Logistica.

According to Griffiths, this is a new area of food. It’s a movement “that blurs the lines between what’s possible and what’s fantasy.” Under this trend, new types of cuisine have emerged. Particularly popular are traditional meat and potato and pasta meals recreated with vegetables. Think cauliflower steaks, “veatballs” and beetroot carpaccio.

Some processing equipment manufacturers have taken note of this trend, designing machinery that transforms vegetables into new forms. Turatti, for instance, has designed a new model Streamer that turns vegetables – carrots, zucchini, butternut squash, cucumbers, broccoli, sweet potatoes and daikon – into pasta-like products. Streamer can make different shapes, including spaghetti, tagliatelle and ribbons. Turatti’s Streamer was nominated for an innovation award at this year’s Fruit Logistica.

German company Kronen has also designed a vegetable spiral-cutting machine, Spirello 150. The new cutting machine can be used to cut large quantities of vegetables into decorative spirals quickly and cleanly.

People’s Revolution

More and more, consumers are deciding exactly when and how they eat and drink, and food processors are responding to their demand for more on-the-go eating.

Schur Star Systems’ Fresh ‘n’ Go bags are designed with customer convenience in mind.

Millennials, according to Griffiths, are a real driving force for this trend, with 35 percent using healthy snacks as meal replacements. According to thefoodpeople, this group is demanding better-tasting snacking opportunities, which are seeing a shift from sweet to savory.

“Although they need to offer satiety, nutrients and high protein, taste comes first,” Griffiths said.

The snacking trend provides a great opportunity for Amcor, a packaging company that has designed the PushPop, snack packaging designed for healthy food on the go. Similarly, Schur Star Systems offers Fresh ‘n’ Go bags, designed with consumer convenience in mind, including improved shelf space.

King of the carbs

After their recent demonization, carbs are making a return. Consumers are re-embracing bread and pasta, made with centuries-old processes and craftsmanship. Companies like Parmentine’s in France address both the snack and carb trends with new products like the Parmentine’s Cup. The microwaveable cup contains snack-sized new potatoes, a small fork and a dipping sauce in the package’s lid.

Ethical eating

Parmentine’s Cup, a microwaveable snack, contains bite-sized new potatoes, a small fork and a dipping sauce.

Increasingly, conscientious consumers choose to eat food that has been ethically grown or reared. Among other things, ethical eaters choose organic, fair trade and locally sourced products. While they care first and foremost about what’s inside a package, today’s ethical eaters are taking a closer look at product packaging as well. Is it biodegradable? Made from renewable resources using minimal energy? Those wishing to take their ethical products to the next level will want to consider new packaging solutions as well.

At Fruit Logistica, there was no shortage of packaging solutions on offer. Mediane, for instance, offers compostable plastic sleeves made from renewable resources for cut herbs. Branding by Banding offers compostable and biodegradable bands that can be wrapped around packaging. The solution means less packaging and, therefore, less waste.

Ethical eating extends beyond product and packaging, and one of today’s biggest food-related challenges: waste. PerfoLid, created by Naber Plastics, Perfotec and Sealpac, all companies based in the Netherlands, reduces food waste by enhancing food quality right in the packaging, thereby reducing unnecessary waste. For those companies targeting ethical eaters, consider reducing food and packaging waste by selecting a more sustainable solution.

Once upon a time

Jean-March Hammann, export area manager at Kronen, shows Fruit Logistica attendees what Spirello 150 can do.

Today’s consumers are looking to connect with products. They’re hungry for history and backstories, and choosing products according to things like provenance and seasonality, processing equipment and techniques. Misunderstandings about products can lead to a loss in sales. Creativity, though, could cut those losses.

An innovative company out of Belgium, Special Fruit, offers a good example of marketing creativity to help educate consumers. Most consumers believe that strawberries can only be grown in the summer, said Sarah Hellemans, marketing and communications coordinator at Special Fruit. But Calinda, a new variety from Spain, can be grown in the winter. Consumers were skeptical about Calinda strawberries because they appeared on the shelves from January to May when strawberries are normally out of season. Using uniquely designed packaging and clever marketing, Special Fruit created in-set booklets that not only educated consumers on winter varieties but also included recipes, pairing the strawberries with other seasonal fruit and vegetables.

Wellness your way

This year’s buzzword is wellness. A lifestyle that encompasses more than simply what you eat, wellness focuses on how you live, look and feel from the inside out. Perceptive processors who wish to keep up with this trend need only produce products that improve wellbeing by creating healthy food that uses tasty ingredients. The trend was ubiquitous at this year’s Fruit Logistica; even machinery manufacturers are joining in.

Foodlife, a Dutch company that makes food processing machinery, has built its entire business around the wellness trend. The company offers innovative solutions tailored specifically for end users who focus on health, wellness and sports. Their CP MiniFiller, for example, cold presses fruit and vegetable juices, designed for meeting the demands of health-conscious consumers.

Similarly, food-cutting technology manufacturer Urschel designs slicers, dicers, shredders and granulators, perfect for reshaping the fresh produce used in healthy dishes.

Health is the new wealth 

In a world where wellness is a paramount and exclusion diets are the norm, health truly is becoming the new wealth, Griffiths said.

The Spanish strawberry Calinda can be grown in winter to extend the season for shoppers.

“Consumers are privy to so much more information about their own health and the nutritional concept of food and drink that they’re making much more informed decisions about how they want to eat and live,” he said.

Conscientious eaters look to veganism, gluten-free and dairy-free diets, embracing products that cater to their needs. One of the newer trends in this category is gut health. Consumers, Griffiths said, are becoming more and more preoccupied with digestive wellbeing.

Food processors are taking note and creating products that meet this group’s demands. Rock Garden Herbs, for example, create tea kits that contain a mixture of fresh herbs and spices. Their digestion tea contains dandelion, dill, fennel, ginger, lemongrass and mint.

Embrace trends, build business

As Griffiths pointed out in his presentation, it’s the demands of the people, not industry and policy makers, that drive change. Understanding today’s food and beverage trends will get you one step closer to meeting those demands. Trends are moving faster than ever, making it more important to maintain relevance with your audience.

Learn more about thefoodpeople at: https://thefoodpeople.co.uk.

— Melanie Epp, contributing writer

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