The seven biggest food trends for 09 in America

Posted by Isobel Drake on 19th February 2009

With economic uncertainty influencing consumer purchasing decisions and interest in healthy eating on the rise, food and beverage manufacturers can feed consumer demand for products that provide more bang for the buck. Ingredients firm Tate & Lyle spoke with several food and beverage manufacturers and spotted seven food trends that American consumers are keen on this year – primarily linked to an overall health and wellness trend.

1. Reduced Calories

Consumers are being advised to reduce calories through portion control and eating lower calorie foods. As such, food and beverages that reduce sugar and calorie content without compromising taste have an excellent chance of getting into consumers’ homes.

2. Healthy Lifestyles

Consumers want food and beverage products that support their healthy lifestyles. Tate & Lyle’s 2008 U.S. market research found that consumers prefer products with functional health benefits including digestive health, immunity defense and weight management. Prominent ingredients sought in 2009 include: Dietary fibre, vitamins and protein.

3. Budget Management

With the economy in a downturn, it’s no surprise consumers are tightening their belts. Food and beverage manufacturers can help them save cash by partnering with suppliers on sweetener or texturant optimisation processes that could lead to significant production savings, which can be passed on to consumers, while delivering a final product with an improved health profile, according to Tate & Lyle.

4. Functional Ingredients

Food isn’t just what’s on the plate. The added value of the ingredients used in products has gained a starring role. Consumers are seeking foods that deliver benefits against multiple conditions, such as added-fiber products promoting digestive health and appetite-curbing benefits or probiotics.

5. Comfort Foods

Many foodies are saying farewell to nightly dining at restaurants in favour of preparing meals at home. Consumers are also going back to foods that are reminiscent of their childhood in a sign that they are hoping to gain an experience from the meals they eat.

6. Simple Ingredients, Clean Labels

The International Food Information Council (IFIC) reported in its 2008 Health and Wellness survey that 51 per cent of consumers look at ingredients on the label when determining what to purchase and eat. The report also indicated that 52 per cent of consumers are looking for fibre and 40 per cent are seeking protein. Foods with functional, recognisable ingredients on the label are in. Ingredients requiring an advanced degree in biochemistry to understand are out.

7. Healthy Indulgence

Consumers want to have their “indulgent cake and eat it too.” Decadent foods with a healthy twist are sparking great interest. Consumers are seeking their favourite desserts, like ice cream and cookies, fortified with nutrients to enjoy without the residual guilt.