With 2015 coming to an end, it is that time to look ahead to see what food trends will be the movers and shakers for 2016. Although there are many trends to watch for next year, one was consistently predominant in the industry surveys and has proven to be a major corporate initiative for the country’s large food manufacturers in 2015. What is this super, hot food trend for 2016?
The #1 Food Trend for 2016: Natural, Simpler Ingredient Statements
Simpler more transparent ingredients not only hit the top of Mintel’s Food & Beverage survey for 2016, but Innova Market Insights’ - as well. It is no coincidence that both of these market research leaders have this as a key influencer for next year.
As the “clean eating” trend keeps growing more and more, Americans are scrutinizing food labels when they grocery shop. An opinion article in the New York Times explains that America’s eating habits are shifting. Since 2009, sales for fresh foods have increased 30% and fresh vegetables have also had an increase of 10% - while sales of processed foods in the middle of the store have declined. This shift in consumer shopping has caught the major food companies’ attention.
In their opening statement for their 2016 Top Ten Trends List press release, Innova Market Insights states, “The ‘clean eating’ trend has inspired a back to basics approach in product development and is an overarching theme.” “Clear labeling” had established itself last year in Innova’s 2015 survey, and for 2016 with a shift in transparency and a demand for simpler non-artificial ingredients – “clear labeling” continues to gain importance. Lu Ann Williams, Director at Innova Market Insights, explains further, “Clean and clear labeling and 'free from' foods have all gained traction and moved on to the next level during 2015.”
This health focused momentum shows little signs of slowing down. Campbell, Kellogg, Nestle, and General Mills all vowed in 2015 to remove artificial ingredients from products. Hershey’s promised to move towards simpler ingredients on their key products including Hershey’s Kisses Milk Chocolates, Hershey’s Milk Chocolate Bars, and Brookside Dark Chocolate Fruit & Nut Bars. In a company statement, Hershey president and CEO John P. Bilbrey, explained, “As consumers, our relationship with food is changing…We all want and deserve to know what’s in our food.”
Still not convinced this is the hottest trend for 2016? Last year, Kraft pledged to reformulate their iconic mac and cheese to remove synthetic colors and preservatives by January 2016. What would prompt Kraft to change this American staple? Their consumers are demanding improved nutrition and “simpler ingredients.”
Even after cleaning out their artificial ingredients, big companies are taking it a step further and buying organic based food companies to strengthen their platform offerings in this simple foods trend. General Mills bought Annie’s Homegrown, a popular organic mac and cheese company, for $820 million last year. Also in 2015, Pinnacle Foods bought Boulder Brands in $975 million deal.
It seems gluten-free is everywhere these days. Most of us probably know at least one person who has taken gluten (a wheat protein) out of their diet, whether for medical reasons or as part of a diet-health craze. Personally, I know 3 people who are gluten-free because of celiac disease. I have, myself, experimented with removing gluten from my diet because of suspicions about digestion issues when I eat certain foods.
The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans state that you should have less than 2,300 mg of sodium a day. If you are over 51 or have some health concerns such as high blood pressure or diabetes, then the recommended amount is 1,500 mg a day.
The Mayo Clinic reports that Americans consume an average of 3,400 mg of sodium a day, most of which comes from processed foods. So how can you be ‘salt savvy’ when shopping? They recommend that you read the food label and understand what the following FDA mandated nutritional claims mean:
Sodium-free: less than 5 mg per serving
Very low sodium: 35 mg or less per serving
Low sodium: 140 mg or less per serving
Reduced Sodium: Sodium has been reduced by 25% from regular version
Light in Sodium: Sodium has been reduced by 50% from regular version
Unsalted: Doesn't mean “sodium-free”, just hasn't had any salt added to the processing