The pandemic saw the development of several food trends focused on health, wellness, immunity, and sustainability. This, coupled with increasing research on ingredient pairings and flavor profiles, has led to accelerated innovation within the food product research and development sector.
Here are what we believe will be trending and need to be considered:
With growing concern about the impact of food habits on health, there is a new food product development idea where food is considered medicine.
Nutraceuticals include nutritional supplements, functional foods, medicinal foods, and foods for enhancing the gut microbiome. A large body of scientific evidence on nutraceuticals demonstrates their numerous health benefits against disorders caused by oxidative stress, including inflammation, Alzheimer’s, diabetes, immune diseases, etc. Nutraceuticals are rapidly scaling up the ladder to feature prominently in newer products from large brands.
However, we are also seeing a large number of start-ups within this sphere. Farmhand Organics uses fresh, organic, high-quality ingredients to develop fermented products that facilitate healthy digestion, boost immunity, and even promote better sleep.
Voll Sante focuses on preventive healthcare. Their products include functional foods, beverages, and nutraceuticals made using natural ingredients to avert and control malnutrition. In the long term, their products enable consumers to avoid chronic diseases and reduce healthcare costs. Their products are available in the form of protein and vitamin supplements, immunity boosters, and breakfast cereals.
Health and environmental concerns have prompted the slow but gradual movement towards alternative protein sources. This has led to new food product development ideas, including cultured meat, lab-grown food, plant-based nutrition, edible insects, and mycoproteins becoming primary alternate sources.
The Protein Brewery, a Dutch startup, develops ‘Fermoprotein,’ a proprietary animal-free lab-grown alternate protein. Fermoprotein is produced by brewing non-allergenic crops and fungi with essential amino acids and fiber. The resulting product with 10% fat and water binding properties contributes to a meat-like taste. Ento, a Malaysian start-up, farms crickets in controlled conditions to generate nutritious cricket-based food products. These insect-based products simultaneously contain all nine essential amino acids and more proteins per gram than beef.
The above sources are nutrient-dense, require minimal resources, and reduce overall costs, unlike traditional animal husbandry, while allowing for faster production with no processing. Enormous advancements in 3D printing, fermentation, and molecular biology make it possible to develop sustainable options for alternative protein production. This further allows food companies to offset the ethical concerns and reduce the carbon footprint of industrial meat production.
Another new food product development idea that has evolved due to increased awareness regarding nutritional diversity is the need for personalized nutrition solutions. These range across nutrigenomics-based diets while including personal preferences such as vegan, sugar- and gluten-free diet, and clean label food products.
The integration of robotics in food assembly along with 3D printing allows food manufacturers to scale nutrition personalization. Further, monitoring devices such as at-home blood- and urine-based testing kits and 24*7 blood glucose monitoring devices help customers track existing diet and health conditions and choose food habits best suited for their genetic profiles.
NGX, a British start-up, produces genetically personalized meal shakes. They offer at-home DNA nutrition tests and analyze the results to customize nutrition intake for individual customers. Their range of products consists of plant-based breakfast, and snack shakes containing 30 essential nutrients, including valine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, and more. With an added goal of enabling customers to reach their fitness and health goals faster, their products contain low calories, fat, and carbohydrate value and zero added sugars.
Anrich3D, a Singaporean startup, delivers personalized nutrition using 3D food printing. Users can catalog their personalized nutrition profiles on the Anrich3D portal. Anrich 3D commences by preparing pastes from various food ingredients subsequently extruded with an extruder. Their 3D printing technology supports multi-material printing to create multi-ingredient meals. This is a great solution to help hospitals and restaurants deliver personalized meal programs based on individuals’ nutrition needs and preferences.
Food Waste Reduction
Roughly a third of the food produced worldwide for human consumption every year – approximately 1.3 billion tonnes – gets lost or wasted. The pandemic has only served to bring more light to this trend, with corporate giants focusing on curbing food wastage to reduce environmental footprint and costs.
However, there is now a distinct paradigm change from reducing food waste to developing zero waste approaches in food manufacturing, leading to several new food product development ideas. For instance, several brands are upcycling and reusing the food waste generated to produce value and heighten reach to customers concerned with sustainability.
Kalsec, a US start-up with a global presence, offers analytical and sensory expertise to deliver innovative solutions for food and beverages to appear and taste better and last longer. With naturally sourced ingredients, Kalsec replicates a broad range of processes, including baking and confections, batters and breading, soups, sauces, dressings and marinades, snacks, pickled products, and meat and poultry, seasonings, and beverages.
Further, food monitoring solutions allow food producers, restaurants, and smart cities to minimize food waste. Lumitics, a Singaporean startup, uses proprietary AI-based image recognition technology (Insight) to track food waste. Their system provides visibility into food waste as feedback loops between customers and food quality. This helps optimize production by curating a menu based on evolving customer preferences, reducing food waste.
Food Drop, a British startup, links stores with unsold or excess food to local charities, schools, and community groups. Interested organizations can sign up, and the portal matches them. The automated platform ensures a pool of charities to gather the excess from stores each day while providing real-time updates about availability.
Upprinting Food, based out of the Netherlands, specializes in creating new food products using 3D printing with leftovers like old bread and vegetables. Natural Machines created the Foodini, a 3D printer designed specifically for food. Foodini leverages bleeding edge technology and the internet to create dishes easily and rapidly.
Expansion of the Plant-based Category
Data from SPINS shows that grocery sales of plant-based foods that directly replace animal products have grown 27% in the past year to $7 billion. However, growth drivers, this year will be vastly different from the past trend of plant-based burgers, grounds, and chicken nuggets. The segment of ‘whole cuts’ explores several new food product development ideas by playing with structure and texture through diverse ingredients, technologies, and processes.
In 2020, the most consumed type of meat in the US was broiler chicken, at about 96.4 pounds per capita. This figure is expected to increase to around 101.1 pounds per capita by 2030. Multiple plant-based meat companies are experimenting with emerging technology to optimize high-moisture extrusion to create more meat-like plant-based items similar to tenders or whole cuts. Typically, soy, wheat, and pea proteins have been some of the biggest staples in this category. However, with consumer interest and preferences evolving, manufacturers are widening their horizons.
Also Read: Food Trends & Predictions 2022
Big market players such as Beyond Meat and Planterra have launched new products – chicken tenders with fava bean protein as the principal ingredient and a whole cut and shredded product, respectively. While not plant-based, Meati and Aqua Cultured Foods use mycelia and fungi to replicate the texture of conventional meat products.
Meat analog products produced by fermentation will be a step up in terms of structure and texture. Juicy Marbles incorporates plant-based fats to create a more natural taste and mouthfeel. In a partnership with Silva Sausage, Mission Barns is creating a plant-based sausage with real animal fat grown from cells.
Alcoholic beverage innovation
The pandemic has only emphasized the need for a strong immune system. Studies show, that 70% of consumers improved their diet in the last twelve months to boost their immune health – of which 20% also decreased their alcohol consumption.
28% of US adult alcohol buyers agree the fastest way to improve their health is to drink less alcohol. With various health benefit claims ranging from diet or light, calorie-free and low calories, reduced sugar or sugar-free, and low/no carb, not even alcohol is immune to the increasing health consciousness of customers. With more customers focusing on reducing their calorie consumption, the alcoholic beverage sector focuses on new food product development ideas.
Fungtn, a UK-based brand, has launched a non-alcoholic beer brewed with Reishi mushrooms with a vegan and gluten-free claim. A growing trend is mixing alcoholic beverages with tea, with many breweries offering this mix with various blends of tea.
Austria Juice has developed ingenious beer mix drinks using green tea and lemon, mate tea, or even protein beer. Apart from different types of tea, incorporating various flavors like apple, tropical fruits, citrus fruits, and berries into beer and ciders is leading the way in the alcohol revolution. There is also rising interest in using botanicals like fresh herbs with beers. Hard iced teas (alcohol blended with iced teas), increasingly popularized on social media, are becoming a favorite with millennials, with classic flavors of lemon and peach leading the way.
The pandemic has made customers venture out of their comfort zone, wanting to experiment with different flavor profiles. This has led to brands making bold decisions with ingredient combinations and the brewing process to attract customers.
An increasing array of fruit seccos and fruit wine-based cocktails with enticing flavors and blends, both alcoholic and non-alcoholic, are great to cater to this market.
Also Read: Beverage Industry Trends
Research shows 58% of Americans drink coffee in some form daily, ranging from black coffee, espresso, or other coffee beverages. However, the increased focus on healthy living has led to people wanting to consume less caffeine.
While caffeine alternatives like kombucha or matcha aren’t novel, new food product development ideas like golden milk and coffee fruit beverages are gaining popularity. Typically, coffee fruit beverages upcycle the coffee cherry to produce a lightly caffeinated beverage containing micronutrients like Potassium and Chlorogenic acid. Golden Milk is a plant- or animal-based turmeric milk generally served hot. Warm Sedona Sunset from Ofi is a Southwest blend that is a blend of turmeric, ginger, cinnamon, and green cardamom.
Cannabis-infused foods and beverages
The overall cannabis market across legalized U.S. state markets is now valued at an estimated US$25 billion, with cannabis edible sales expected to grow to US$6 billion by 2025. Once the oil has been extracted from cannabis and converted to nanoparticles, CBD can virtually be infused with almost any food or beverage.
Medahuman, based out of the UK, offers “a range of targeted functional wellness through the synergy of CBD, with adaptogens, nootropics, and nutrients.”
Trip, another UK brand, has launched a product line infusing CBD with cold-brew coffee to provide an excellent balance of energy boost while remaining relaxed.
Gummies are the preferred edible format, driving most of the candy sales. BDSA Consumer Insights data suggest convenience is a major factor driving gummy sales. CBD-infused beverages are seeing enormous growth with their fast-acting effect in a convenient, familiar form that makes them accessible to a vast customer base.
The Road Ahead
The only way to maintain relevance in today’s world is to understand customer expectations. The food product development sector is always innovating, and the only way to get ahead is by leveraging real-time data and keeping pace with evolving customer needs.
Spoonshot works by leveraging food science principles to find relationships between various apparently independent data points. For instance, by processing data related to the physical and chemical properties of ingredients, we help you understand how ingredient interactions and flavor combinations impact the final recipe.
Our proprietary #foodbrain has been developed to understand the disciplines of food science, consumer insights, marketing, and the product development journey. This allows our #foodbrain to produce intelligent suggestions that support and propel your new food product development ideas.
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