I am writing this column as 2021 nears its end and 2022 awaits on the horizon. The timing coincides with the publication of numerous lists of trends that will drive food and beverage innovation in 2022 — from companies ranging from market research firms to ingredient suppliers.
A number of those trends spell opportunity for new product development within the dairy space. In this column, I cover what I view as the most significant of them for the dairy sector.
On March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic. I think few of us could imagine back then that the pandemic would still be top of mind across the globe almost two years later. As we ring in the new year, however, it most definitely is.
So it should come as no surprise that gut health — and its role in boosting immunity — is a major trend on several lists. In its second annual list of global consumer trends, for example, Chicago-based ingredient supplier ADM names the “Microbiome as the Root of Wellness” among its top eight global consumer trends. The trend list is based on in-depth research from the company’s proprietary Outside Voice consumer insights platform.
“Data from ADM Outside Voice indicates that 58% of global consumers are aware of the potential benefits that bacteria in the digestive system can have on their overall health,” ADM says. “Today’s consumers are looking for foods, beverages, and supplements that support gut health and overall wellbeing. Linked by consumers to immune function, aspects of metabolic health and even mood, mental acuity, and feeling energized, consumers’ approach to supporting a healthy gut is evolving from reactive — seeking foods to alleviate discomfort — to proactive — tailored and customized pre-, pro-and postbiotic solutions.”
A number of dairy products already are associated with gut health. So innovative, proactive solutions to gut health and immunity should be a logical — and potentially lucrative — product development focus for dairy processors in 2022.
London-based ingredient supplier Tate & Lyle, meanwhile, calls out better-for-you snacking in its list of six key trends shaping consumer product innovation within the global food and beverage market.
“Consumers are prioritizing their health,” the company notes. “Better-for-you snacking products are an obvious choice to meet consumers’ health needs.”
The COVID-19 pandemic is an influencer behind this trend, too. According to a September 2021 publication from the Packaged Facts division of Rockville, Md.-based MarketResearch.com, 31% of surveyed consumers report increasing their snacking activity because of the coronavirus. Consumers are also eating foods that are more healthful in general during the pandemic.
For dairy, this trend means opportunities tied to smaller portions (many companies within the cheese space have been innovating here), less sugar, and higher protein content.
Speaking of protein, new global research from Irish ingredient supplier Kerry found that 50% of surveyed consumers associate protein with a “healthy diet,” and 46% associate it with a “healthy lifestyle.” What’s more, 75% of surveyed consumers indicated they would pay more for protein-fortified foods and beverages.
Consumers will expect more
Perhaps the most significant trend of all is what Arnhem, Netherlands-based Innova Market Insights calls “Voice of the Consumer” in its list of the top 10 trends impacting the global food and beverage space in 2022.
“Consumers are calling the shots and expecting more engagement from brands through digital and real-world channels,” the company says. “People are looking for food and beverages that align with their political, social, and ethical values. If they can’t find them, entrepreneurial consumers are taking action to fill the gap themselves, satisfying specific market niches and co-creating products that meet their needs.”
Dairy brands that make a real effort to listen carefully to — and engage with — their consumers could find inspiration for truly innovative products.
Source : Dairy Foods Dec 2021 written by the Editor Kathie Canning