“New year, new food” should be the correct saying. Just like the fashion world, the food industry experiences new and exciting trends each year. Food companies are forced to innovate and produce food products that will meet consumer demand. So, the question becomes, what do consumers want on their plate in 2018? According to empirical data and industry insight, these are the top food, flavour, and ingredient trends to look out for this year.
The Switch to Alternative Protein Sources
It is no surprise that one of the most popular food trends of 2017 was the push for alternative protein sources, more specifically, plant-based proteins. Experts predict this to continue to trend in 2018. According to a recent global survey, 23% of consumers are seeking new plant- based protein sources. In addition, 43% of Canadians and 39% of Americans are actively incorporating more plant-based foods and protein sources in their diet, suggesting that this trend reaches past the vegetarian and vegan populations. Other evidence to support this trend includes the decline in meat consumption, specifically beef and pork. In the last 10 years, the Canadian beef and pork industries have experienced an 18% and 11% reduction in consumption, respectively. This trend is predicted to stick around in 2018 as Maple Leaf Foods, a front-runner in meat products, are investing in the plant-based protein market.
Health and Convenience
Consumers want convenient, quick, and healthy food options in 2018 and meal delivery kits address all of those wants. Meal delivery kits started to gain some traction at the end of 2017 and are predicted to increase in popularity this year. According to Mintel research, 36% of Americans say that planning meals consumes more time and energy than they would prefer, which acts as the main motivation for subscribing to meal delivery kits such as Hello Fresh and Blue Apron. It is no surprise that industry giants, like Amazon and Kroger, are entering the subscription box market in 2018.
Online (Grocery) Shopping
An upcoming trend that goes hand-in-hand with meal delivery kits is the increased presence of e-commerce sales in the food industry. While currently, e-commerce grocery sales compromise 2% of all grocery sales, it is forecasted to grow to 20% by the year 2025. Many sources state that the marriage of Amazon and Whole Foods will be the force that pushes e-commerce food grocery sales. Research conducted by Mintel states that 77% of Chinese consumers have shopped at online grocers for home delivery purposes and 65% do so regularly. As the e-commerce market for food grows in Canada, it is predicted that Canadians will adopt this trend.
What’s Not in Your Food?
An increasing percentage of consumers are actively avoiding certain ingredients in the products that they purchase. In result, food companies are adding “free-from” claims to their products to appeal to this large group of consumers. “Free-from” claims encompass products that state that they contain no artificial ingredients or additives and also products that speak to customizations, like containing no gluten, GMOs, soy, dairy, egg, or nuts. Whether the motivation is dietary restrictions or by preference, the “free-from” category is expected to grow in 2018. Currently, 24% of Canadian consumers now report a dietary restriction or food sensitivity. Additionally, “free-from” claims appeared on 29% of global food and drink launches from September 2016 to August 2017, which increased by 17% compared to 10 years prior. Any categories of food are able to state these claims as long as they adhere to the appropriate regulations stated by Health Canada.
Mushrooms seem to be a popular ingredient in forecasted trends for 2018, mainly due to their functionality. According to the Neilson 2015 Global Health Report, 80% of respondents are seeking ingredients that have high functionality. Mushrooms are making appearances in beverages, such as mushroom coffee by Four Sigmatic, and natural health products, like lotion and soaps.
According to Whole Foods, floral flavours are also predicted to trend in 2018. Some products that highlight these flavours include granola, beverages, tea, and frozen desserts. This trend follows the food industry’s move towards “natural” products. Expect flavours such as lavender, orange blossom, elderflower, and violet in 2018.
Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada
Nourish Trend report 2018. Nourish Food Marketing. January 2018.
Nourish Trend report 2017. Nourish Food Marketing. January 2017.
Global Food and Drink Trends 2018. Mintel. 2017.
Nielson Global Health and Wellness Report. Nielson. January 2015.
Senior Analyst, Food & Food Systems