Probiotics move from yogurt containers to “wellness bars,” like these chocolate bars and granola bars from Attune Foods.
KAREN HOCHMAN is Editorial Director of THE NIBBLE.
2008 Food Trends
More Of 2007, Plus The Yumberry
Now that the 2008 trends and predictions are pouring in, they’re not much different from the 2007 trends and predictions—probiotics, organics, superfruits, green production. However, here’s an update from Datamonitor, whose ProductScan database monitors new product introductions worldwide.
1. Bolder Flavors. Sense of taste and smell diminish as populations grow older (read: Baby Boomers), and consumers demand more palate excitement. Look for bolder, hotter, spicier flavors. ProductScan has measured increased sales of hot and spicy salsas, with a doubling of the word “spicy” on new foods and beverages introduced between 2003 and 2006. In Portugal, Adagio Moments Yogurt Drink launched a flavor blend of chocolate chips, strawberries and chile peppers. In the U.S., sales are up for bolder cheeses, with retail sales of blue cheese rising 6.3% in 2006, according to the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board. Discover some wonderfully bold cheese in our Cheese section.
2. Organics For Kids
At organic trade shows, these products have been around for years—baby food, cookies, juices, cereals, chicken nuggets—and natural food stores like Whole Foods Markets and Wild Oats are full of them. The big brand names that have been involved in controversial marketing practices to children are going after the organic market now. Organic products targeted to youngsters is expected to hit the mainstream, as large manufacturers aggressively target the kids’ market. You can keep on top of organic trends in our NutriNibbles section as well as at Blog.Thenibble.Com (search NutriNibbles in the index).
Earth’s Best is owned by the Hain-Celestial Group. General Mills owns organic brands Cascadian Farms, Muir Glen and Small Planet Foods.
The number of new food products launched in the U.S. that either use or are designed to use steam as a cooking method tripled between 2005 and 2007, according to Productscan Online. Read about our favorite easy-steaming products from Ziploc.
How new can this be? We’ve been getting açaí’d and goji’d for three years now. While you may have heard a lot about high-nutrient “superfruits” such as açaí, goji berries, noni, only pomegranates are generally found in mainstream supermarkets. They are found not just in juice and ice cream, but also in everything from mustard to salad dressing. Look for the rest of the crew to go mainstream in 2008, as larger companies get into the game and distribute to your local supermarket—first via juices. (Açaí is too perishable to be found as fresh fruit, so look for it in juice blends, sorbet, etc. Noni is too “exotic” tasting to be palatable except as a juice blend. There are dozens of species of dried goji berries, some more palatable than others. The sweet ones do well in dried fruit and nut blends.) Also look for the yumberry,* a subtropical fruit originally from China, with high antioxidant content and a cranberry-like flavor. In the U.S., beverages such as Frutzzo Natural Juice including Yumberry Cherry and Yumberry Pomegranate blends can be found. Read more about açaí and other antioxidant-rich foods.
*A.k.a. Chinese Bayberry, Japanese Bayberry, Red Bayberry, the Chinese strawberry tree, yamamomo, or yangmei; botanical name Myrica rubra. Photo of yumberry courtesy of Wikipedia.org.
5. Ethnic Ingredients
New ethnic ingredients will hit the scene, this year from Africa. Look for African hot peppers and couscous to gain in popularity—first in restaurant dishes. (Note though, prognosticators, that last year’s hotly-predicted ethic food, peri-peri sauce from Peru, is still waiting to happen.)
6. Probiotic Foods
The gut-friendly bacteria are expected to move from yogurt to mainstream. Already around are Kraft LiveActive Cheese and specialty food company Attune Foods has probiotic chocolate bars and granola bars (called “wellness bars”). Giant chocolate supplier Barry Callebaut has a new technology that enables the creation of a probiotic chocolate bar. Read our full article on probiotic food.
7. Crunchy Foods
People love crunchy foods. The number of worldwide new products claiming to be “crunchy” or “crispy” doubled between 2002 and 2006, according to Productscan. For our favorite crunch, see our Snack Foods section.
8. Stress-Relief Foods
The growing body of evidence linking sleeping habits and obesity encourages manufacturers to tap into the market for sleep aids and stress-relieving products that promote sleep. Datamonitor expects an increase in the use of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), the amino acid lauded for its stress-relieving properties. The U.S. rights to the ingredient were recently secured by Jones Soda, and a new “stress-relieving” beverage is expected. In Japan, the buzz is about Nakazawa Adult Milk, made from cows milked at the break of dawn and more naturally high in melatonin.
9. Coffee-less Caffeinated Foods
Need caffeine but don’t like coffee? In 2007 alone, caffeine was formulated into jellybeans, instant oatmeal, mints and potato chips. It’s been slow in coming: we remember when Joe Water, caffeinated bottled water, first came out 20 years ago (and went nowhere—we think it was before its time).
10. Green-Produced Foods
Environmentally-friendly ways of producing packaged foods are expected to become popular with consumers, who will seek the Green-e certification on product packages. This trend is taking hold around the world, states Datamonitor. This trend is worldwide: from Himalayan sea salt to Limetti soft drink in Finland to Stonegate Farmers egg production in the U.K. Other green products are Procter & Gamble’s Pur Flavor Options. This enables consumers to flavor water as it comes out of the tap instead of purchasing bottled water that creates landfill waste. Another option is our favorite Better Drinking Water Filter, a biodegradable plastic bottle with a built-in filter that takes the place of 90 purchased bottles of water.
Himala products, focusing on pink Himalayan salt, are certified Green-e (plus kosher).