Nutrition For Non-Nutritionists assesses five growing food industry trends in innovation that could impact the next five to 10 years to come.
By Lucia Weiler, BSc, RD, PHEc
Our world is facing disruption and uncertainty. Yet in this changed world, people seek to nourish their bodies to the best of their ability. Consumers have re-evaluated their food and nutrition priorities and here, Nutrition For Non-Nutritionists (N4NN) assesses five growing trends in food innovation that will impact all food and nutrition professionals for the next five to 10 years.
- COVID-19 disruption in food purchasing
- Clean label
- Food safety
- Well-being and immunity
COVID-19 disruption in food purchasing
Consumers are looking for new ways to meet their food needs. Less time spent in grocery stores and restaurants means convenience and personalized shopping is essential.
Digital-age solutions are transforming the way grocery stores, food retailers, and restaurants operate. Pandemic-impacted brands must adapt and power through by branching out of traditional platforms to sustain consumer engagement. Discount chains are offering more food brands and premium brands at a better value. Have you seen groceries in dollar stores yet? They are priced as close to a dollar as possible.
The line between retail and restaurants continues to blur. A completely new restaurant concept dubbed as a “dark kitchen” or “virtual kitchen” is rising. These kitchens sell meals exclusively through delivery – no eating in, seating, or serving is involved. Virtual kitchens cook purely for delivery so the food that is produced there must be transported and enjoyed elsewhere. Third-party delivery and distribution channels enable these food businesses to connect with consumers quickly and effectively.
Consumers continue to seek clean labels. Although undefined by regulators, shoppers consider “clean label foods” to have familiar-sounding ingredients and to be made simply using fewer ingredients. Various claims are also sought after, including “organic,” “free from,” and health-related benefits like reduced sugars. Product innovations across all categories are now sharing messages about minimal processing and fewer chemicals as consumers don’t want to see labels packed with additives to extend shelf life. Some consumers are also evaluating foods’ environmental impact based on climate change and land/water use.
Gone are the days when plant-based was just an “alternative.” Plant-based foods are successfully crossing over into the mainstream and becoming a regular part of people’s diets. More and more consumers are looking to limit meat or dairy intake based on deeply held values such as “eco-health” or ethical reasons.
This macro trend is driving innovation for dairy and meat substitutes and fish/shellfish alternatives are expected to follow. The key ingredient of interest in food innovation for plant-based foods and beverages is protein, a trend that continues to remain strong. Consider the variety and diversity of plant-based sources of protein, including a larger selection of grains and cereals. Consumers are also expecting great taste and an eating experience that is beyond imitation.
Ensuring high food safety standards is becoming a greater concern as people focus on keeping illnesses at bay. Although there is no evidence to suggest that food is a likely source of transmission of the Covid19 virus it’s critical that all stakeholders protect food safety, animal health, plant health and market access.
Everyone has a role to play to bolster and safeguard food. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) is committed to appropriate oversight of domestic production and imported food products. Agri-food stakeholders, including farmers, are providing safe food for consumers and managing the supply chain.
Culinary professionals and consumers should continue to follow good hygiene practices during food handling and preparation including:
- Washing hands regularly.
- Cleaning and sanitizing food preparation surfaces including chopping boards and countertops.
- Cleaning fruit and vegetables before eating, cutting, or cooking, and washing them under running water. (Do NOT use soap or detergents or other chemicals on food.)
- Keeping fruits and vegetables separate from raw foods that come from animals such as meat poultry and seafood and avoiding potential cross-contamination between cooked and uncooked foods.
- Cooking meat thoroughly and using a meat thermometer to ensure safe cooking temperatures.
Sources: Health Canada, CFIA, CDC
Well-being & immunity
Research shows that many consumers have at least one health goal that they are looking to reach and are actively seeking healthier foods. Well-being is a common goal and functional ingredients like prebiotic fibre and slow-release carbohydrates are setting the stage for wellness foods. This is good news and N4NN applauds food makers who evaluate and re-formulate as needed to provide healthier food choices and optimize nutrient density.
During the pandemic, many consumers are seeking functional ingredients to boost immunity. Good nutrition is essential along the journey towards supporting immunity. Careful consideration must be given to maintaining the integrity and credibility of the statements as food makers formulate food and drinks to empower consumers’ lives. Contact N4NN for credible and legally sound advice on food labelling and claims.
Lucia Weiler is a Registered Dietitian, Nutritionist, and Co-Founder of Nutrition For Non-Nutritionists. As a leading global consulting agency, N4NN offers nutrition training workshops and learning solutions for food/beverage professionals. Work with N4NN for food innovation, menu development, labelling support, strategic marketing, trends data, and media/ambassador communications. Contact N4NN at n4nn.ca, [email protected] or on Instagram at @Nutrition4NonNutritionists.