Chicago was host to the Institute of Food Technologists’ annual meeting and food expo — an ideal venue for tracking trends and learning about new product innovations. Analysts from two market intelligence agencies, Mintel and Innova Market Insights, discussed the food and flavor trends they’ve been noticing—and the buzzworthy ingredients they think will take off. Here are some of the highlights.
Soursop or guanabana, the new salted caramel
This tropical fruit is described as a combination of strawberry and pineapple, with notes of sour citrus and a creaminess similar to that of coconut or banana. Part of the appeal of guanabana is that the tree is native to Mexico and Cuba, countries that are on the minds of many American consumers. You can find the fruit in Fage Total 0% mango-guanabana Greek yogurt and Vitamin Water Zero strawberry-guanoabana enhanced water — but expect it to be popping up in even more new products. Similarly, salted caramel products are booming, featured in breakfast cereals, dairy, snacks, desserts and drinks.
Harissa, the next sriracha
I absolutely adore harissa, a staple in North African and Middle Eastern cooking that combines hot chili peppers, garlic, cumin, coriander, caraway and mint. Most of the new products featuring harissa are sold in Europe, but Lynn Dornblaser from Mintel said several North American launches have taken the flavor beyond its primary category of sauces into hummus, frozen entrees, and chips.
Jackfruit, the next superfruit
I’ve written about jackfruit in the past. This Southeast Asian tree fruit has been a standout in lots of recent trade shows, and several brands have introduced innovative products featuring jackfruit, such as Upton’s Naturals, the Jackfruit Co., and Yves Veggie Cuisine. Jackfruit is often dressed in savory sauces to replace meat in tacos or sandwiches.
Yes, it’s simply the liquid from cooked chickpeas, but somehow aquafaba has been generating lots of buzz. The protein-laden liquid has egg-like properties so you’ll find lots of vegan recipes using the liquid from canned chickpeas, including baked goods and desserts. One new product on the market using the trendy ingredient is Sir Kensington’s Fabanaise, a vegan mayo. The company describes aquafaba as “chickpeas’ greatest gift since hummus.” Ha. Love that.
The humble pea is the hot new protein ingredient and it’s showing up in dairy-free beverages, snacks and vegan spreads. Ripple Foods introduced a “plant-based milk” using pea protein and boasting about eight times the protein of almond milk. This pea milk is also fortified with omega-3s.
New ‘natural’ processing
No doubt, the concept of processing has gotten a bad rap. But I think it’s wrong to condemn all “processed food.” Even so, fermentation, high-pressure processing (HPP), and other processing methods perceived as “natural” are gaining favor among consumers seeking alternatives to artificial preservatives.
Creating a ‘real’ link
Increasingly, people want to know about the people behind the product. The number of global product launches tracked with an origin claim nearly quadrupled between 2011 and 2015, as more companies feature farmers and use “local” descriptors.
Beyond the athlete
The sports nutrition market has broadened its appeal to mainstream consumers seeking protein and energy ingredients for a healthier lifestyle, according to Lu Ann Williams, director of innovation at Innova Market Insights. So that means more people are drawn to sports nutrition products, especially because the category now offers more novelty and flavor variety.
The indulgence alibi
Health-conscious consumers are seeking indulgent snacks with wholesome ingredients or smaller portion sizes. So that means more chocolate-covered fruits and nuts, along with mini-treats.
Tastes for new experiences
New products are featuring more front-of-pack texture claims, like Chobani’s new Simply 100 Crunch. Other texture claims include velvety, silky, rich and oozy.
Images: courtesy of manufacturers and iStock