The rise of the adventurous consumer and other trends Innova expects to be key in 2019

No surprises that snacking, plant-based and sustainability also top the list.

5 December 2018
image credit: Getty Images

Targeting increasingly adventurous consumers set on new discoveries and experiences will be key to developments in the food industry in 2019, according to Innova Market Insights.

Here are six trends the research company thinks will be big next year.

1. Discovery: the adventurous consumer

Consumers are moving out of their comfort zones to explore bolder flavours and multi-sensory food experiences. Two in three UK, US and Chinese consumers love discovering new tastes, Innova research found. Food has become part of the entertainment culture as well, from experience-led restaurants, fusion foods and tasting menus to retail meal kits and delivery-only brands.

There is a focus on heightened sensory experiences, often combined with an element of the unexpected – and not just for millennials either. Many parents are providing their children with more adventurous eats too.

Between 2016 and 2017, there was a 35% increase in new product launches that urged consumers to try something new. A prime example is Kettle’s launch of its Discoveries crisps range, featuring flavours like salted caramel and double cream; New York deli with pastrami, dill pickle and mustard; Gressingham duck, plum sauce and spring onion; and Yorkshire Wensleydale cheese and Cox apple chutney.

But it’s not just about unexpected flavour blends, it’s also about playing with things like texture – such as the Torres crisps that incorporate popping candy – and even temperatures: in the US, Skittles launched a version of its signature sweet with a touch of heat, while Naga's chilli chocolate bar increases in heat as you eat it.

There are also multi-sensory experiences like Hershey’s glow-in-the-dark packaging.

2. The plant kingdom

The plant-based market shows no signs of slowing down. Companies and brands are greening up their portfolios to attract mainstream consumers who want to add more meat-free options to their diets.

For many, going plant-based is about achieving a healthy and sustainable balance between meat and vegetables, rather than adopting an all-or-nothing way of eating.

On average, there has been a 46% annual growth of food and beverage launches with a vegan claim between 2013 and 2017.

But there’s also an anti-trend, with a rise in premium meat products like wagyu black Angus burgers.

3. Alternatives to all

As more consumers pay attention to health and sustainability, replacement foods and ingredients are on the rise. Health remains the number-one reason to buy alternatives to bread, meat or dairy. Globally, there has been a 17% growth in dairy alternatives between 2013 and 2017 and an 11% increase in meat substitutes. But consumers are also attracted to novelty products in this area.

The search for alternative proteins has resulted in a rising use of black beans, lentils, peas, rice, nuts, seeds, chickpea and even insects as protein ingredients for foods. There is also development in new sources such as duckweed and water lentils.

Alternative options are also spreading to more categories like fish, pizza, pasta and non/low-alcohol beverages.

4. Green appeal

Customers have expectations around sustainability and this is driving corporate goals as manufacturers commit to product and packaging development with a range of initiatives.

This includes waste reduction through upcycled ingredients and post-consumer recycling, as well as improved biodegradability and new technology, such as compostable capsules and vegetable inks.

Innova research found that 64% of US and UK consumers expect companies to invest in sustainability.

5. Snacking: the definitive occasion

For most consumers, snacking is a part of daily life and always has been, but what is changing is the way people think about snacking and what is considered a snack.

Snacking is no longer the optional extra, but the definitive occasion. It is a central focus of innovation across all food and beverage categories, with 10% average annual growth of global food and beverage launches with a snacking claim over the past five years.

6. Small player mindset

Big food manufacturers will have to think like small companies if they are going to compete for the hearts and minds of consumers, which also means innovating faster.

To add to that, adventurous consumers can fact check anything, so everything has to have a story behind it.

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