Tasting Tomorrow: Flavour and freshness remain paramount for consumers

By Liesbet Vandepoel

From H.G. Wells’ The Time Machine to Back to the Future, people have long dreamed of seeing what the months and years to come will bring before they get here. Can you imagine the edge a sneak peek of the road ahead could give your business? In a way, that’s what Puratos’ Taste Tomorrow 2019 study can do.

Taste Tomorrow is a consumer study of unprecedented scale and scope. Work on the first edition began in 2012, and study results have been released every three years. For 2019, we spoke with more than 17,000 consumers spread across 40 countries around the world. To be sure no trend was left uncovered, we spoke with 80 foodies living in eight of the most food-forward cities on Earth. Calling the study comprehensive is like calling chocolate “popular” or Kawhi Leonard “skilled.”

“It will come as no surprise that taste trumps everything when it comes to buying bakery, patisserie and chocolate products”

Taste, freshness and health are top of mind for consumers, but appearance is right behind. After collecting reams of data, we grouped it all by market region (North America, South America, Asia-Pacific, Europe and Middle East-Africa) and identified nine key trends most meaningful to North American consumers, but also globally relevant:

  • Taste above all
  • A healthier future
  • Freshness defines the quality perception
  • Consumers crave for craft
  • Ethical food choices shape our future
  • Clear labels provide transparency
  • Ultimate convenience
  • Next level experience
  • Hyper-personalization

It will come as no surprise that taste trumps everything when it comes to buying bakery, patisserie and chocolate products. That’s unchanged since 2015. What’s fascinating is that appearance ranked just behind freshness and health considerations in terms of what’s important to consumers. In North America, 58 per cent said what tastes good ought to look good, too. No doubt you have social media to thank for that.

So, what tastes good to Canadians? Given that we live in a multicultural and globally connected society, discovering that 55 per cent of Canadian respondents enjoy trying exotic, international flavours was not unexpected. Intriguingly, though, nearly four-fifths are still big on traditional tastes. It’s an exciting, anything-goes time to be in the baking and chocolate industry!

Craft-made products are still buzzing, and Canadians love to read labels
In other trends, the popularity of craft products continues, though at a slower pace in Canada than in the rest of North America. Sixty-five per cent of Canadians value authentic recipes and production methods, and 62 per cent are willing to pay a premium for handcrafted products. These are substantial numbers, but in both categories, we’re lagging behind both Mexico and the United States.

“Indeed, it seems that bricks and mortar still win the hearts and minds of Canadians”

It seems consumers are increasingly concerned about and aware of what they’re putting in their bodies. More than half like to know something of the history and heritage of a product, and a whopping 88 per cent of North Americans read the packaging. In Canada, the focus is on the ingredients list and the nutritional information each read by 65 per cent of respondents. Things consumers love to see on a label are whole grains, evidence of locally sourced ingredients and a transparent journey from farm to fork. By the way, that package they’re reading? They prefer to see less of it; one in two Canadians want a reduction in plastic food packaging.

Casting our eyes further into the future, North American consumers seem inconsistent about their acceptance of new technology. While 69 per cent expect more food to be bought online by 2030, only 4 per cent currently do it weekly. Indeed, it seems that bricks and mortar still win the hearts and minds of Canadians; 75 per cent are opposed to the disappearance of “real” stores. Artificial intelligence and store and delivery automation are treated with considerable skepticism, and only 17 per cent would switch to lab-grown meat, the latter despite a growing desire for eco-friendly products.

That’s just a taste of the actionable, targeted data Puratos and Taste Tomorrow 2019 has to offer businesses in Canada. If you missed the North American presentation in Chicago, you can learn more about the study at https://www.tastetomorrow.com/about.

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